On Friday it was finally warm enough for us to take Genoa's new trike out for a ride. Even though she kept climbing off and on it, she LOVED it. I have to say that the feature wherein I get to completely control the handlebars without having to bend my ancient arse over to do it? Is AWESOME and totally worth the extra fifteen bucks!
Together we did a big lap around our neighborhood. I like to look at the houses; Genoa is on the prowl for puppies and meow-ers; Alex hunts for power tools.
Sadly, the only person we encountered that day was the neighborhood's sole registered sex offender. In a crazy but timely conversion of circumstances, I had only learned about this man's existence 24 hours earlier. A friend had mentioned him and Dave and I had just looked him up the night before. He was arrested for "Rape of a minor" fifteen years ago. I'm not sure how much time he served, but I can tell you the eerie feeling I got walking past the man after just having witnessed his creepy mug shot.
Another neighbor had been out walking her fluffy white dog, the very dog that made the bike ride worth the price of gas for Genoa, and this neighbor stopped in front of the rapist's house to chat with him. He was outside working in his yard with a leaf blower and the two of them were laughing and enjoying some friendly neighbor rapport. Alex took one look at the leaf blower, which was still on, and dismounted his bike to walk up and ask about it. Every hair on my entire body stood on end as I pushed Genoa closer and watched this man show Alex how the leaf blower worked. The entire exchange lasted no longer than ten seconds before I hurried Alex along and told him we needed to keep going.
Two blocks later when we were finally well out of earshot, I stopped Alex and told him I needed to talk to him.
"Remember that man with the leaf blower?"
"Well, he's a bad guy. You didn't know and you didn't do anything wrong, but I don't want you to talk to him ever again."
"How do you know he's a bad guy?"
"There is a place on the computer where parents can go to see if any bad guys live in our neighborhood. Last night Daddy and I looked it up and we saw a picture of that man. He once hurt a child very badly and went to jail for it."
"I won't talk to him ever again!"
"Our neighborhood is very safe, but since we know that man is a bad guy, we should just stay away from him. When Sister gets older, we'll warn her about him too, okay?"
"Okay. Can I see his picture?"
"Sure, as soon as we get home."
And as soon as we got home, I pulled up the website and showed Alex the photo. I could tell he was a little scared by the whole thing, but in my mind, that's pretty much the ideal response. In hindsight, I'm GLAD we saw him the way we did because it gave me the opportunity to point him out and warn Alex. The timing was perfect. I should also say for the record, that our neighborhood is very safe. I feel exponentially safer living in Washington state for a multitude of reasons [not the least of which is the state's dedication to the 2nd Amendment], and the number of registered sex offenders HERE is actually far far less than the number of them living near our condo in California.
The part that still leaves me annoyed was that the other neighbor was so happily chatting up the child molester. I'm going to give her a pass and assume she just didn't know, but still! Part of me wanted to scream, YOU'RE CAVORTING WITH A KNOWN CHILD RAPIST. How could she DO that?! Of course, I will never utter a single word to this man. He's a criminal and I wouldn't want him coming after me or putting my children in danger. But I'll also never walk by his house and casually nod at him, or even make any eye contact. As far as I'm concerned, he deserves to be shunned for the rest of his entire life.
[Edited to add: Y'all, he's an OLD man and he raped an under age member OF HIS OWN FAMILY. He's the WORST kind of predator, soulless enough to hurt someone he should've protected.]
I think it goes without saying that all parents should assume EVERYONE is a child molester. The only good thing about living near a registered offender is that it's the evil you know and one less person you have to guess about. Even if you don't have children, I highly recommend consulting the FBI's National Sex Offender Registry. You can never be too cautious when it comes to the safety of children.