On Monday, I took the day off. My wife and son were both sick, so I took my daughter somewhere to play. First, I decided that some lunch was in order. So we went to a restaurant. Normally I do Subway, but just wasn't in the mood. Went someplace I had been before, and knew the manager of the place to boot.
Anyway, my daughter and I are sitting in a booth waiting for our food to arrive. I'm sitting on the outer seat, Gracie is sitting next to me between me and the wall. I'm feeding her fishies and cheerios while we wait. Meanwhile, out of the corner of my eye, I notice a pink teddy bear had been tossed into the seat next to my daughter. The guy who did it walked by my booth and said something to me (something along the lines of "for your daughter.") I was a bit nervous that a stranger had given my daughter something randomly, but all I could say to the man was "thank you."
The waitress came up to me a little bit later and told me this guy frequents the bar in this restaurant, loves kids, and keeps a a bunch of these bears in his car to give out to the little kids in the restaurant. Made me feel a little better, but after I thought about, I felt even more weirded out by the whole experience. The guy didn't interact with my daughter at all, but still.Creepy
I remember growing up an episode of Different Strokes where the Gary Coleman character (or one of his friends) had gotten lured in by a child molester. He gave gifts, had all the cool video and pinball games, etc. Yeah, they warned you about all that stuff back then. For all I know, they still do warn about these things on TV shows occasionally. The occasional story about a child molester or rapist on the TV news is enough to keep the danger fresh in my mind, though. This experience made me realize the risk was very real and I need to stay vigilant to make sure nothing like that happens to either of my kids.
I felt so disgusted about the whole experience that I wanted to immediately throw the bear away. A friend of mine reminded me that my daughter was too young to understand and that, hopefully, she'll never have to experience our worst fears. My wife thought there was no reason to throw the bear away. Fair enough, but every time I see that bear, I will be reminded to maintain my vigilance.