I have yet to blog about the awesome Ride for Wishes we rode in yesterday, but first I need to blog about this because we've been discussing it on my FB wall. Strangers. Or better, when strangers adore your children. (And you know they all do!)
Ok, we have cute/funny kids. We know this. We're over the "cute" part now, most of the time. Except for Asher cuz he is SO stink'in cute!
So at the end of the ride is is a street dance. NINE bands playing, something 16-year-old Angela just can't resist. Angela is a dance queen, and people who attend this event every year KNOW that she will always be the first one on the dance floor, and if we allowed her to stay she'd be the last one to fall at the end of the night. But this IS a biker event combined with music and dancing. It's not something a lot of people would bring their kids to (to hear the f-bomb flying all over is not for everyone I suppose), but we bring ours because this is part of our community. These are our friends. The biker community is like that, just like the Down Syndrome community is.
But still, there are a lot of total strangers around. LOTS of strangers. I once heard a statistic that at a public gathering, out of every 100 peoplem there is a pedophile. There are over a thousand people at this event, which means statistically could be a lot of really creepy people walking around and our kids are prime targets! Here's why...
I was taking this video of Angela dancing to the pre-band music. A lot of people were standing around laughing at her adorable-ness. (And really, they were ENJOYING her free spirit in a genuine way.) See the man in the foreground? I don't know him. Never met him before in my life (though he told me later he remembers Angela from previous years at this event). He seems like very nice guy who was just sitting around waiting for the bands to start. He danced with her a couple different times after this video. Now imagine that dance area filled with a couple hundred people, Angela in the middle of it all, right up near the speakers where she likes to dance! Just think how quickly and easily we could lose her... and she'd go willingly. (My apologies to the guy for using him as an example)
And then it happened. A total stranger picked up my child. She didn't ask. In fact, she TOOK him from me.
I'm standing there holding Asher's hand as he danced next to me, while with my other hand I was recording Angela and Axel dancing. I was HOLDING his hand. I thought Dean had picked him up, only turned to find a total stranger had not only picked up my child, but was walking away with him.
[Editor's Note: Please note you can't see the woman pick up Asher. Make sure your sound is turned up and listen to Leah's voice at the end of the video.]
The video is short, and ends when I address the woman very nicely. (actually I address Asher first). It wasn't so pretty after that. This woman chose to argue with me about why I won't "encourage him to recognize people with good hearts." REALLY????? Not only that, but as I went to take Asher from her, she PUSHED his head back into her shoulder. The discussion became a bit heated at that point until I finally told her, in a very scary mad mom warning tone of voice, "I am done discussing this with you and YOU need to move away." (The other kids were still dancing and I didn't want to take my eyes off them.) Apparently Dean could SEE the tone of voice on my face and came to take Asher from me, at which time I removed myself.
I don't get why total strangers think they can just walk up and hug on someone's kid, or pick them up. I would NEVER consider doing that to some strangers kid! I really was tempted to call one of the MANY security guards over to us, but it would have meant taking my eyes off the other kids.
I think it took about an hour for me to come down off that adrenaline rush.
Normally at this point we go home for awhile, change clothes, eat dinner and get the car. (The other kids had been brought to the dance by our sitter.) Angela LOVES to go back to the dance when the bands are playing. She knows them all. But this night we didn't go back. I was done dealing with strangers for the day.
What would you have done? Have you picked up a stranger's child?
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