Mad, mad, mad! Is how I felt after an experience last weekend.
That particular phrase comes from a Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood episode. Our family’s love of Daniel Tiger and things we’ve learned from his show is enough material for another post. For now I’ll just say that in an episode about anger, the character stomps her foot and says she is mad, mad, mad.
So, here’s what happened… J and I ventured out to the OKC Dodgers “First Look Fan Fest” in Bricktown. Morgan couldn’t come with us, so in spite of some reservation about being alone downtown we went for it. The event looked fun and it was in the middle of the day. J fell asleep as I exited the freeway downtown, so after parking in the Joe Carter lot, I started reading a new book on my phone and let her finish her nap. I love the Overdrive Media app that lets me check out books from our local library and read them anywhere. We had plenty of time for the nap since we arrived a bit after noon and the event lasted till 3. And, if you’ve followed us at all you know that my girl needs her sleep -life is better for all of us when she is well-rested.
So, after a nice time reading my book and letting her sleep we exited the car and headed to the park. It wasn’t very far, we could see where we were headed, but we did have quite a bit of filled parking lot to pass through.
A bit into our walk through the lot a man (dressed in shorts and a hooded sweatshirt) approached us and said something to the effect of “here, this is for you” to me as he tried to hand me something that looked like a roll of dimes. I said no thank you (I didn’t know for sure what it was, and whatever it was I figured I didn’t need). He continued to try to get me to take it in spite of my refusal and then he moved on to speaking to my 3 1/2 year old daughter and trying to get her to take it. I’m a bit proud to say that she followed my lead and refused – didn’t reach for it, and said no thanks. At that point after saying no again I told her “come on, it’s time to go to the game” and we walked away. He went another direction.
As we continued across the lot I tried to keep a bit of an eye on him so that I knew whether or not he was approaching us again. I saw him beside a truck and couldn’t tell if he knew the person inside or was also offering them something. As we split ways another man seemed to be just coming upon us and looked a bit like he may have been watching to see if we were ok. He didn’t appear to be working as a lot attendant or anything, just a regular guy heading to a car and could tell that maybe something was amiss with our exchange. We made it across the rest of the lot and into the park without further incident.
While reading this you may think “what’s the big deal? a dude in the parking lot talks to you and then it takes awhile for him to go away”. Oh, but that’s not how it was for me! See, after being attacked years ago I am even more cautious about my surroundings. There have been other events downtown that I’ve thought about attending, ones that have looked like J and I would enjoy them. But, they are downtown during the day when the 2 of us would have to go alone. Parking can be complicated, we may have to walk a bit, and that leaves us out, exposed, and vulnerable. So I choose not to go, to find something else closer to home and more familiar to do. And then, I take a chance to do something and those reservations are proven true -an unsettling encounter happened. I don’t want those concerns to be the reality. I want reality to be that I can take my daughter to any event that looks fun without thinking twice about how far we may have to walk through an area that may be “sketchy” or make us vulnerable. I want to be able to take care of any errand when it’s convenient to me without having to think about if it’s a safe place for a girl to go alone. But, unfortunately, experience has told me that there are dangers, that evil is real.
So, part of the “mad, mad, mad!” is that after this experience I have to deal with figuring out whether it was unreasonable to think it would be a good idea to go to the Fan Fest. Or, is that something that any other adult would consider a perfectly good idea and it’s just my personal past that makes me question it. And, if it’s that, if it’s my experience of being attacked that makes it problematic, then dangit – maybe there’s still more healing that needs to happen, maybe those guys’ actions are still affecting life today. And, that is not what I want to be true.
A week later I find myself mad, mad, mad that my 3 year old is asking me questions about why a stranger tried to give us something in the parking lot. Mad, mad, mad, that in her incomplete English she is explaining to me that when a stranger comes we say NO and walk away, I repeat that and she says “no mommy, you have to say it louder!”. This is happening in our car, as we drive all our normal places. Due to that dude approaching us my girl is processing how to deal with stranger danger before we’ve even had that conversation. That makes me mad, mad, mad. I want her world to feel safe still, I want concerns about safety and strangers to be concerns for me and her Daddy for now, I want her to just enjoy the experiences and the view. But, this encounter confirms that she needs to know we have a plan.
I’m mad, mad, mad to find that during Sexual Assault Awareness month I’m having my own new experience that reminds me of previous tragedy and vulnerability. I want the continued healing that makes new encounters not bring up old trauma. Though I’m mad, mad, mad I’m thankful that we do have a month for people to think about to support survivors of sexual assault.