"Then, this afternoon, I found out he is a registered sexual offender."
So...that's the conversation I had with my neighbor. Fun, right? Y'all are jealous, huh?
I had tapped on my neighbor's door to ask if I could carry a garage sale, Little Tike type of kid's tree house through his backyard. His father answered the door, and then his parents told me that they were just visiting, and weren't sure where the keys might be, so would I please come back and ask their son, my neighbor.
When my neighbor returned, he not only agreed, but, he helped me carry it. My feel for him is that he is a nice guy. I was grateful. What can I say? I like him. He always offers to help me carry heavy groceries, etc. By all counts, a good neighbor.
Then another neighbor dropped by, and another, and another. "Have you met John Smith's parents?" I readily said yes and that they seemed like nice people. "Did you know that his father is a registered sexual offender? The website says he is living here now."
So, um...what do you say to that? I went with, "Thanks for telling me."
I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do. Pull my kids inside. Add a lock to the door. Buy thicker drapes. Move. Finally, I decided to calm down and go with just talking to my neighbor. I don't believe in talking about people behind their backs, and because he struck me as the kind of guy who would have knocked on my door and said, "My parents are coming to visit for awhile, and there is something you should know..." When I talked to my neighbor, he acted like I had lost my mind. I wondered if he knew? He had to know, right?
Then a knock on my door. My neighbor was back, with an explanation. His father had "stepped out of line" with a 16 year old he was counseling. He lost his job, his retirement, respect and had now lived with the consequences of his actions, for the past 15 years. He apologized for not telling me earlier, but, that he hadn't known that it was permanently linked to his father's record.
I feel better. I asked for permission to repeat what he had shared with me, and he gave it to me, he also suggested that I give anyone who would feel better talking to him about it, one of his business cards, and to tell them, to feel free to contact him. I respect that. I respect him.
I have also now been shunned as 'the irresponsible mom' because nobody else is interested in details. They are all in the 'high alert' phase, where they are acting like our street is a ticking time bomb, waiting to go off and claim their children.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but, my personal policy is to educate my children to use caution with people that they don't know, and even people that they do. I don't suggest taking it to crazy levels, nor do I want them to live in fear. I want them to approach it like driving. Vehicles are dangerous. Necessary, potentially fun, but also lethal in the right circumstances. Have a healthy respect, proceed with caution, don't do anything stupid...and keep on trucking.
Now tell me, does that make me irresponsible? How would you feel? What would you do?