Protecting Our Children

It was a beautiful day. To take advantage of it I thought I’d walk over to the field where every Tuesday and Thursday there was a game of ultimate frisbee. I was told the game was at four, I got there fifteen minutes late, but the field was occupied by a middle school soccer team. I sat on the bleachers and stretched out thinking it was only a matter of time before the kids would be off and fun time could begin. I laid on my back trying to bring my knee to my chest when the coach of the soccer team stood over me.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“Yeah, can you let me know when I’ve been stretching for thirty seconds.”

“No, I mean what are you doing on the field? Are you a parent of one of the players?”

“No, I’m just waiting for the frisbee game.”

“These kids are only playing soccer today. I think you’re a little big to be playing with them anyway.”

“There’s supposed to be thirty year olds coming out here to play.”

“Sure, there are. I’m going to have to ask you to leave. My principal is over there and she can’t see a strange pedophile, I mean, frisbee player out here scouting out the kids.”

I didn’t put up a fight defending myself. I guess it did look peculiar, a grown man hanging outside a kid’s practice. I’m naive about these sorts of things. I remembered one time in a creative writing class we read the JD Salinger story, A  Perfect Day For Bananafish. It’s a great story about Seymour Glass who’s out at a Florida beach and meets a kid in the waves and tells her to look out for the bananafish.  My only complaint was I didn’t like how at the end of the story the protagonist abruptly killed himself. When I voiced that opinion in class a fellow student said, “It’s because he can’t stand himself for getting dirty with a kid.”

I was incredulous. “Seymour Glass wouldn’t do that.”

“Come on, it’s obvious, the bananafish is his penis.”

I was shocked that this sick mind would consider that, but no one else in the class disagreed with this interpretation. Perhaps these unholy unions happen more often than we think. Just about every week some celebrity in the news says he was molested as a child and there was that whole Penn State fiasco, so I was glad when I came back to the field a half hour later the soccer kids were gone. But the frisbee men were still nowhere to be seen. Then a ten year old kid came over to me. He started talking to me and all of a sudden I felt scared to talk back. Would I be branded as a pervert if I spoke back to him? He was a friendly, talkative kid who moved here from Spain and  said the frisbee players are usually here, but I had bad luck today. He asked if I wanted to kick the soccer ball with him. We kicked it back and forth and then we took turns playing goalie as the other person tried to kick the ball into the goal. We had fun. I guess it looked like too much fun because the coach came over in his golf cart shaking his head,  “God damned sicko frisbee players.”

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4 thoughts on “Protecting Our Children

  1. You know what is truly bad in all of this, you had no bad intentions, the kid sought you out, you didn’t go out of your way to attract or lure them in, and the coach automatically assumes you’re up to no good.

    And what someone should have been truly asking that kid in your class that said that is, “Why would you even think something like that?” Sounds like that kid had been around the block a time or two with that very thing. Hopefully someone took them to the counselor and had a talking with them about their home life. But, probably not as this would somehow be perceived as a sign of intelligence these days.

    To me, kids know WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much these days, and it’s probably because they have been exposed to things they shouldn’t thanks to sitting in front of televisions, listening to radioes, and having the internet especially. So, naturally, everyone is considered a pedophile just for even talking to a child, even if it’s about sports.

  2. You can thank Sandusky for ruining the sports talk further as now any coach, parent, or person willing to “play” with a child will ultimately draw hypersensitive scrutiny around every corner, with no hope of truly proving innocence. Just like you did, they’ll simply have to keep quite and back away. There is no such thing anymore as innocence until proven guilty. It’s definitely guilty until proven innocent, if you’re lucky.

    And if you did find someone innocent of such acts, then you as the juror would fall under heavy scrutiny as possibly being a pedophile yourself. Just a lose-lose situation.

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