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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Something happened at lunch recess

Empty swingOn Tuesdays, I pick my son up early from school to go to his weekly OT sessions. This week, on the ride up there, he proceeded to tell me how there was a stranger on the playground at lunch recess.

He described the person as a man wearing a black coat and a hood who was "mean and yelling at the kids". I asked him if he had seen this person before and he stated that no one knew who this was.

I asked him if they told an adult (there's supposed to be an adult supervisor on each "playscape" but sometimes they need to take a child into the office because of injury, etc. so you never know...) and he said the kids were too busy playing. This is a kindergartner reporting here, so accuracy can sometimes be sketchy. He mentioned something about the man talking to the kids about not wearing clothes, which got me a little concerned.

Now, normally I'm not exactly paranoid and my first gut instinct is that there's always some explanation for things but, since there was one recess left in the day I felt it wise to call the office and report this so they can be on the lookout for strangers. One other thing that made me a little suspicious is that the church a few blocks away is hosting a "tent city" for the homeless.

I know this makes me sound horribly prejudiced, and I frankly don't have a problem with them being nearby, but given my sons' rather insistent report I was wondering if one of the tenants had wandered down to the school. There are a lot of homeless people in Ballard and the occasional one can get somewhat aggressive. Just ask my Mom who was traumatically chased down the street by one of them last year.

Anyway, I dutifully called the school office and started telling the woman who answered the phone about my son's report of a strange man on the playground wearing a black coat with a hood who was yelling at the kids. I mentioned that this was coming from a kindergartner so I couldn't exactly vouch for the validity of this information. I didn't get to the "mean, acting crazy man" part as she cut me off with the response, "well, I think that was me."

Turns out, she was new and out on the playground, telling kids to put their coats on. My son, during this conversation, kept interrupting with "who are you talking to" and then finally "that sounds like the man who was telling the kids to put their coats on." Aha. Coats on. Not clothes off.

Needless to say, I was pretty damn embarrassed to have accused her of being a strange man on the playground. I felt like a crazy person, but she was totally cool about it. Of course, I didn't get far enough into the story to sound too nutty.

What would you have done? What's the most embarrassing thing your kids have gotten you into?

26 comments:

margaret said...

Don't worry, being a mom has got me used to sounding crazy as well. Better that than sorry. And your son knows that when something happens, his mom listens to him and takes him seriously. Good for you!

DC said...

I would have done exactly the same thing. I'd risk being embarrassed a thousand times rather than risk not saying or doing something once when I really needed to. You did the right thing, Crunchy.

organicneedle said...

You were actually sane about it. In all honesty, I probably would have skipped the OT and went back and looked around for myself like a crazy woman...and then would continue to show up at playtime until oh say....graduate school. I second what Margaret said, by following through you taught him to go to you when something doesn't seem right to him.

Becky @ Boys Rule My Life said...

You absolutely 100% did the right thing - because that's what I would have done, too! :)

Seriously, though, kindergarteners can come up with some whoppers, but it's better to check something like that out. Good job, mom!

BTW, love the new picture of you!

Deb G said...

As someone who works with young children and has been in charge of childcare centers, you did the right thing and presented it in the right way. As long as you aren't doing that every week, no one should give you a difficult time about calling in something like that. :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone else, you did the right thing.

Katie said...

What's the most embarassing thing my kids have gotten me into? Where to begin?? I think my personal favorite was the time I got a call from the school asking if we needed anything because of the fire. Could the school do anything to help?

I was totally befuddled because we'd had no fire. I was pretty sure that I would have noticed a house fire and the ensuing damage.

It turns out my daughter, who was about 9 at the time and had speech language delays, was trying to recount the story of a very minor fire that had occured years before, while we were camping. BTW, there was no damage from the fire at all and it lasted less than 5 minutes.

Then there was the time my son came home from school with a picture he'd drawn of me holding a glass up that said "My mommy likes drinking champagne". He was in kindergarten if I recall correctly. I was so embarassed and I don't even drink very often!

The list goes on and on...

Tameson O'Brien said...

You did the right thing Crunchy. I would have called too, and I not a crazy woman at all (well not in that way). My oldest daughter had drawn a picture in her "journal" in like first or second grade - we had just gotten a new dishwaher and she was playing the box, and my husband shook the box (like a monster) and she bit her lip so the picure caption said "my daddy put me in the box and hurt me" with a drawing of her in a box with a frown and a gigantic tear - boy was that emabrrassing.

connie said...

You did the right thing.

My embarrassing story...

When my high maintenance daughter was in kindergarten, she had spent the afternoon with her Grandma. Grandma showed her that she could lick red pistachios and use them for lipstick and blush (yeah it makes me cringe, do they even sell red pistachios anymore?). Being in kindergarten, Miss High Maintenance was not very neat about it and ended up with random stains all over her face.
When we got home that night, our pipes were frozen. I cleaned her up the best I could with baby wipes, but her face was still stained.
The next morning the school asked little Miss HM how she got the marks on her face. She said some nuts at Grandma's house did it, and Grandma did it too.
The school called me demanding to know "who" these nuts were!

Crunchy Domestic Goddess said...

definitely better safe than sorry. you did the right thing. :)
it's so funny and interesting to hear how our kids interpret different things.
glad the woman was cool about it.

Lee said...

glad that turned into a story we can giggle about!
You absolutely did the right thing!

Greenpa said...

You did good. This stuff is never fun. My sister is a child shrink- and I get to hear "and nobody would listen, because she/he was a child..." - a lot.

Susan said...

I would've done the same thing. And I'm sure the new secretary has to have a pretty thick skin to be working with elementary schoolers, so I'm sure she didn't take any offense!

Tara said...

I think this falls under the category of being a good mom. I would have done the same.

Vickie said...

oh my god, i so would have done exactly the same thing, short of arriving there all crazy. i have a 5 year old and i know that you can't always know what is the full truth but i would act and if it turns out as your story did then great, a little embarrasement, much better to be safe.

i'm glad it turned out that way!

love your blog!

Krissy said...

Did the right thing Crunchy. He did get the wrong idea but he was right that it was a strange person talking about clothes. It shows that he is paying attention to his surrondings and it is better to be safe than sorry. How many news reports are there of strange people confronting children at schools? You don't have to have homeless nearby to have wackos nearby. The schools here always want to hear about anyone who is out of place near our schools. I'm glad it was a false alarm.

Beany said...

I would have done the same thing. Although...I would have made a scene and really embarrassed myself.

Grad Green said...

One day my daughter went outside through the sliding door while I was taking a shower. She was very little (under 2) and I could see her wandering off through the window in the shower. So I jumped out, still soapy, wrapped up in a towel, and went running after her. Keep in mind that I live in an apartment complex.... :)

BTW Crunchy...good call.

danica said...

That is ABSOLUTELY the right thing and I am proud of you. One of the things that I am spending a lot of time working on and writing about is how people can help kids who are being abused and help end the cycle of abuse.

So many people hear things like that from kids and don't know what to do, or don't take action out of fear of sounding crazy or out of the belief that nobody will take them seriously, or just write off what young children say. But this is EXACTLY what adults should do if a kid says something like this: you took him seriously, you asked questions, you contacted the school and asked THEM questions....

You were lucky that in this case the story turned out to be very different than the images it originally brought up! And the way you handled it meant that you found out what happened right away, your kid got to see that you do everything you can to make sure that nothing bad is happening on the playground, and the school got to see that you are listening to your kid and keeping an eye out and got to give you the information that let you figure out what was going on. And if something else HAD been happening they would have heard about it and been able to take action to protect the kids and help them deal with whatever happened.

Robj98168 said...

You did right and luckily there was no problem this time. More parents need to report simular incidents. With out the information Schools can't weed out the pervs from the good people at the school playground. So what if you sound crazy and paranoid.BFD.

oakling said...

I can't even think of embarrassing situations my kid has gotten me into off the top of my head, because I never think of stuff like this as embarrassing. I figure that people might or might not think anything I'm doing for or with my kid is foolish, but their opinion doesn't matter as long as I know that I'm standing up for and sticking with my kid. Whether it's following up on a scary story or walking around pretending we are noisy kittycats in the middle of a subway station or whatever else :)

Laura said...

Totally on mark, Crunch. You gotta listen to kids, even/especially the littlest ones. It is so important.

And if it's not too rude to ask... OT?

camp mom said...

I think you did the right thing! We may feel silly late right now but hey better to feel slly than have soemthing really crazy happen!

Valerie said...

You cannot be too careful. I would have done the same thing. That is scary.

Maeve said...

I would have called the school immediately, no question there. Too many pervs are out there stalking kids, and worse, to take something like that with anything less than 100% seriousness.

I'd have been a bit embarrassed, but not really, because the alternative? Is much worse.

And it isn't prejudiced to have concerns over the homeless people. I don't know about your state, but Montana has an online database that lists all the violent and sexual offenders... it was a bit non-plussing to see that sexual and violent offenders are listed as "homeless" and "non-compliant".

Jane said...

As a teacher, I think you were absolutely right to call. It takes a village!

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