Last night this blog hit a milestone moment: I got my first thoroughly negative, personally insulting comment. It was yesterday’s post that brought it in, and I’m looking at it as a good thing — first, because it means that people other than my relatives and friends are reading what I wrote, and also because it means that I’m touching nerves and writing about important things.
My comment was from a person who called himself Cliff, and this is what he wrote*:
“Thankyou for nothing, I am a grandfather, I do watch kids at the park, have even picked them up when they have fallen from the play aminities. Big deal, if you think that every grand father is a sick sod well thats your life, but dont taint us all with your warped mind. just because I enjoyu watching kids have fun, should not open me up to your tirad. not all men are out to harm children. as for your icecream man, poor sods wondering if a complaint from you will end his job.
Do your self a favour, go back to the doc and tell him your sick of the meds you have been buying on the street and you need help.”
I am going to ignore his unkind personal remarks about me and respond to what I think is his point — that he is offended by the idea that, as a perfectly innocent grandfather who enjoys being around children, he might be stereotyped as a pedophile. Fair enough. I can see where he is coming from — people tend to consider pedophiles to be the scum of the earth and I can’t imagine that anyone who isn’t one would want to feel as though he or she is being classed as one.
To clarify my own point, however, I don’t think that all older gentlemen who find joy in watching children play are pedophiles or weirdos. In fact, I generally welcome kind words from men (and women) young and old when they compliment or show benevolent interest in my children. It wasn’t my intention in yesterday’s post to suggest that I feel otherwise.
Still, “Cliff” has a point, which, though I don’t think he realized it, highlights the sort of internal conflict that I was trying to convey. I don’t want to stereotype people. I don’t want to think that all old men are untrustworthy and I don’t want my children to think that either.
But I am my children’s one and only mother and it is my job — my most vitally important job — to keep them safe. And I won’t apologize for the times when I become overly cautious because someone, man or woman, young or old, black, brown, or white, human or non-human, makes me feel uncomfortable.
From the other comments I have received, both here and on my Facebook page, I can see that most other parents feel as challenged as I do when it comes to developing both confidence and caution in our children. But I have also seen that, as these very wise people have pointed out, the most important thing is that we foster communication about these issues with our kids. There is no single path to follow. We will always be challenged with the task of keeping our kids safe. I’m 35, and I can tell that my own father has been worried about me ever since I posted about the shady contractor trying to take advantage of me and my husband. I suppose we won’t ever have all the answers, but, thanks to those of you who have shared your insights with me, I now understand two of the most important things we can do for our children: constant — and compassionate — vigilance paired with constant, and two-sided, communication.
* I copied his comment directly. You won’t find it with the other comments on my earlier post because he wrote it on my Contact Me page.