Numb

I thought about whether to write about this.  I thought to myself, “you know, this is too personal. This should be between us as a family.”

But I realized, as a mom…a community advocate…a voice…it’s imperative that I share this because it may help protect your children. Or it may open your eyes…it certainly opened mine.

Something disturbing…something scary happened to us recently.

We flew back east for a summer vacation to see our family.  By the time we made our way down to baggage claim, our 6-year-old son was dancing…he needed to use the restroom.

I waited with the girls while my husband took Nico.

Nico found a urinal and my husband stood back by the wall…only a few feet away.

My son still doesn’t understand the whole method of using a urinal so when it’s time to “go”…he pulls his shorts all the way down.

That’s when my husband saw it.

An older man was standing next to Nico and my husband caught him…bending his head down and leaning in towards my son’s private parts looking at them…as if he were examining them. The man then turned his attention to my son’s buttocks.

My husband then immediately started shouting and running toward the man…who  darted out of the bathroom.

I saw my husband run out of the bathroom…pulling on my son’s hand.

In our 10 years of marriage, I have never seen my husband that angry or upset. “I want to kick his ***!!! Where is he?!! I am so sick to my stomach! What if I wasn’t in there? I didn’t know what to do!”

I remember saying, “what the hell happened?!!!”

Then he told me.  I was numb. My face felt boiling hot but my body was cold.  It was one of those moments where everything around me…all of the people and the sounds were blurry.

I went into journalist mode…peppering my husband with questions…one after the other. “What did you exactly see? Are you sure he wasn’t just looking down? Are you sure he was looking at him like THAT??”

My husband responded: “I know what I saw. I think I’m going to be sick.”

I knew at that moment just how serious it was.  You have to understand, my husband is very calm, patient, understanding…he’s never one to jump to a conclusion too quickly.

I didn’t know what to do. We found police in the airport and reported the incident. “So he didn’t touch your son…he was only staring?”

I wanted to scream. THERE WAS A STRANGE MAN OOGLING OVER MY 6-YEAR-OLD SON’S PRIVATE PARTS!! I get it…there was no actual “crime” committed…but I kept thinking…what if my husband wasn’t in there? What if that man’s leaning-in stares led to something more sinister? What if that guy goes into another bathroom and finds another little boy? Will anyone stop him in there?

Some may think I am overreacting. Some may think that I am assuming the worst.

After years and years of covering crime scenes…reading police reports…talking to detectives…it’s not that I assume the worst…I just take off the rose-colored glasses and know that I can’t be naïve as a parent. I can’t sit behind my white picket fence and think that it won’t happen to us.

When I returned to work, I immediately talked to Glenda, the Sexual Abuse Prevention Coordinator. She’s in all of the schools talking to kids about child abuse and sexual abuse. As I was telling her what happened, she was nodding her head slowly…because she has heard stories like this…time and time again. She was very calm when she said, “You did exactly what you should have done. Just talk to Nico and tell him ‘now that you’re six, it’s time you use the urinal exactly like Daddy does’. Don’t panic…just keep talking to your kids…keep going into places like the restroom with them.”

This world.

It’s crazy.

And I am constantly struggling with that fine line of being protective and guarded with my children…and letting them experience certain things on their own without hovering.

I’m not even sure where that line is anymore.

 

 

 

34 thoughts on “Numb

    1. THANK YOU FOR SHARING I think a lot more of us need to hear from one another so that we can stay strong for our children and protect one another from the evils that are lurking.

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    2. i am so sorry ur family went thru this!!! i was wondering where u went, i miss u but family comes first. u cant trust nobody now-a-days-, so glad ur hubby was there and paying attention, so many peeps would have been on there phone!!!!

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  1. Thanks for sharing this horrendous episode. It opens the eyes of all of us that are so often times so trusting in our little neck of our midwest haven.

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  2. you know what the line is…don’t ever let someone tell you differently. that line is what makes/keeps your child safe! pisses me off that we have to defend this line. what is happening in society that we are to be tolerate with ‘alternative’ lifestyles…BS! its always been a worry for me when my boys were little, i still see most moms do this, and my husband wasn’t around they went into the ladies room with me. thank you for sharing. i really hate the police response to this.

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  3. You are great parents! I always worry when I see Moms especially allowing their stand up young sons walk into the guys toilet alone! It’s so hard to keep your children safe and allow them to grow up well! Thanks for sharing, and it’s a most important share! Gramma Jean

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  4. You and Nico reacted appropriate, like good parents! One just has to be vigilante with small children, yet don’t make them paranoid. Thanks for sharing, but don’t let it consume you! ❤

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  5. “‘im not even sure where that line is anymore” was your comment at the end.
    So very true I’m sorry to say. Things are so different than they were years ago. It downright boggles my mind.

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  6. Thank you for sharing this! It’s sad that more and more things like this are happening. With the world of social media these crimes are also being more easy accessed by others. It makes me sad and angry as a mother and therapist that our children can’t even enjoy the simple things we did childhood; like going down the park, walking to the neighbors or even going to the bathroom alone without being scared to death that something bad will happen to them. With being a voice in the community I thank you for bringing light to the matter and sharing with us all. I enjoy all your blog posts and appreciate the honestly that comes with them. I can relate on so many levels!!! Thanks Amanda!!!

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  7. Amanda….thx for sharing. I unfortunately just let my 7 year old grandson go to the restroom himself. Yes, I wait & worry, but believe you me, we are going to have a talk. I would be horrified & furious if this would ever happen. So, he needs to know & what to do. I am so sorry this has happened. I hope it never happens to any of our children, but we have to keep our eyes & ears open always. Thank you very much for sharing this. God Bless your family….

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  8. Years ago my niece went to the restroom by herself, at a restaurant, and when it was taking longer than my sister thought it should she went to find her.
    A man was holding the door closed with his foot on the outside if the door.
    Thank God he wasn’t inside.
    My sister went balistic on him!!

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  9. Thanks for sharing your experience. So sorry to hear that this happened to your son and your family. It’s saddening/sickening that we live in a world where we have to be on guard constantly and things like this happen more often then we probably think. I continually tell my children to pay attention to who and what is around them whenever we are anywhere. You just never know. My children constantly want more independence but I still hoover. I’d rather they be mad at me then have something happen.

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  10. You and your husband for sure did not overreact. My nine year old son does not like going into the ladies rooms with me, but too bad. Until he gets facial hair a parent will be present in the bathroom with him. Men’s rooms are the worst. I am so sorry this happened to your child. I am thankful he has protective, involved parents to guide him through this.

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  11. Now days even as a grandma you can’t be to careful ,it is insane, I know of way to many adults that were molested by a family member, and boy does that ever break the level of trust, what is bad is when no one does anything, shove it under the rug, sorry for your son to have to go through that, it is a very good thing your husband was with him

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  12. Thank you for sharing this story. We all need to be aware. You think, “Never my child, ” but then it happens.

    It’s a sad world these days.

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  13. This is so sad. Parents need to be SO VIGILANT!!! Kids cannot be kids anymore and run free.
    I was at a concert outside at a park. I had brought my pet bunny. A co-worker’s child and a bunch of other kids were carrying him around. I was following the group of kids around making sure the bunny was OK. One mother came up to me and asked if I knew any of the kids(her son was one of them). She thought I was a child molester. Hurt my feelings but later I thought she was being vigilant. It is sad that you can’t trust anyone with kids!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  14. The man would have never RUN out of the restroom, if he wasn’t guilty of something. If he just thought it was funny that Nico pulled his pants down at the urinal, and was double-checking that he was actually seeing, what he was seeing….he would have said that to your husband. Your husband is SPOT ON with his feelings or mistrust/disgust with that man. The authorities should be checking security cameras – he COULD be doing this a LOT in that airport. I mean….it’s an AIRPORT for God’s sake….human trafficking is a REAL DEAL! So scary!

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  15. OH Dear God!!! This is why kids cannot be kids anymore! Before the cousins went missing I had my kids on a long but secure “leash”. but after the leash got very short! I struggled with the mens bathroom when my son was little so I always made him use the women’s stall until I just could not anymore. Then I made sure he was the only one in there and I stood just outside the door. It really is too bad that you and your husband could not find him, He could have been on a registry and been non compliant with restrictions! Its just scary.
    Prayers that your children will grow up with all their innocents in tact!

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  16. I am so sorry this has happened to your son . We all think this won’t happen to us or our family but in reality it is some talk about it some don’t. Times have changed or we were just blind to the fact that this has be going on for many many years. The difference is now we speak out hiding it will cause more problems later. I hope they get the guy before he can do something to someone else’s child. As a grandma to 5 both boy and girl we try very hard not to use public RR but when it happens we all go together I personally don’t care about the looks or comments I hear I want to keep them safe. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless

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  17. I hate, hate, hate that our kids can’t be innocent anymore. Thank God your husband was there and close by.

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  18. Thank you Amanda for posting this, all parents should be aware of the things that can happen so quickly. You and your husband did the right thing. I hope your little son will listen to you and “Do as Daddy does”, and that no harm ever comes to him.

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  19. so creepy!! i think your husband showed a lot of restraint, i would have decked the guy right there in the restroom..i remember when my boys were young and i would make them use the ladies restroom so i could be with them and they wouldn’t have to use the mens bathroom alone..i sometimes got the look from other women in the restroom when doing this… didn’t care cuz i was keeping my boys safe!! i have never understood the whole urinal thing, no privacy!! all restrooms should have private stalls with doors and locks..

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  20. You and your husband did exactly what you should have done! This is an eye opener for all parents. Nico is lucky that his dad went with him. Too many parents are too busy or nieve to watch closely. Thank you for persuing this with the police. If this man does do something again in the future, you are helping to build a case against him. Hopefully your diligence will protect someone else.

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  21. Thank you Amanda for sharing your horrendous experience and thank God your husband was in there. You just never know anymore about what perverts you will meet. It is so sad for kids anymore that kids can’t be kids. It could have also been an opportunity for some perv to take a picture with all the camera phones around, for someone to take a picture of some kid and pass it around on the internet if some little kid was by themself. I shudder to think about it, with all the kiddie porn out there. I am so glad your child is safe and sound!

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  22. People need to hear this story. People need to hear your voice. Keep writing, because people need to hear more of these stories so they watch a little more carefully. I’m originally from Cedar Falls and live in the Quad Cities now. This is everywhere and it seems people like this are getting braver. It’s part of the high for them. I doubled over reading this but maybe that’s what it takes to get through to our community and it’s people. ❤️

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  23. It was the right thing to do by sharing your story, and I want to thank you for that. As a parent I would have given this pervert a black eye prior to leaving. So glad your husband did the right thing by going with your son to the bathroom. You have to be your own advocate for your kids, because those “sick” people don’t give a damn. I see parents letting their young one go alone all the time and I think to myself “what are you thinking” This article will give me a stronger voice, and if I see parents letting their tikes go alone, I WILL speak to them. Thanks for sharing Amanda.

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  24. I am horrified by this. I am a father of three grown girls and five grandchildren. Three girls and two boys. I have always considered myself street wise and safe with my kids. I had the opposite issue of taking my girls and my oldest granddaughter into the men’s restroom. Mainly because public restrooms normally seem dirty to me. My oldest granddaughter is five and my oldest grandson is four. I always accompany my grandson in the restroom but recently since my granddaughter has started preferring “privacy ” I have started to let her go into the women’s restroom alone. Not too long ago my granddaughter was using the women’s restroom as I waited outside. I heard a blood curdling screen come from the restroom. Before I even realized what was going on she came to the door with pinched fingers she had caught in the stall door. That made me realize how fast something can happen before we even know it. I can safely say that non of my grandchildren will be going to the restroom without an escort until they are at least 30. That’s the age I always thought was appropriate for kids to start dating anyway. Funny how my son-in-laws think it’s a good idea “now”.

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  25. a very close family friend touched my daughter inappropriately when she was 6. She told me at age 7….it took six months for a detective to question him..as it was her word against his NOTHING was done about it….I completely understand that numb feeling….you can see and hear the world around you moving but you are stuck in that one moment feeling like all your air is gone…a year later i still struggle with the fact i failed to protect her and I have a very hard time not hovering. I learn from her dailey…she has shown me what being brave and strong truly means

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  26. Ty for sharing this. I know it was difficult to share . Thank God your husband was there. As for the police saying there wasn’t a crime committed…….there was. Your child was stared at. In an inappropriate matter and with inappropriate intentions. If this is not considered a crime then we need to make it a crime.
    It is illegal to look at children naked on the internet, yet it’s ok to do it in person in a public bathroom?
    This world has become so obsessed with defending those who are truly guilty and offending people. Now it’s to a point out children are at risk.
    I have become a terrified mom when I take my daughter shopping. What used to be fun shopping take your time to browse day has become a cautious “beware of creepers everywhere” dash.
    And what’s sad is that if your husband would have caught up to the man and punched him (which the guy more than deserved) your husband would have been in cuffs not the peeping Tom

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