Saturday, May 3, 2008

guest post: irrigation, irritation, irradiation

The following is a guest post from one of my favorite bloggers, who finds herself in a dilemma:

Friends. I need some guidance.
If you are a regular visitor here, please advise.
If you are a lurker, please de-lurk and advise.
Anonymous comments are on. That doesn't mean anony can be mean.

We live in a rural area. We are surrounded by farms.
My boys, who are almost 16 and 13 were offered a job working on some acreage near us--moving irrigation pipe throughout the summer. The pay would work out to be significantly above minimum wage. It would not be every day, but just during the farmer's water turn. It would be 3 or 4 mornings (5:30-6:30 am) and then again in the evening (6:00-7:00 pm) several times throughout the watering months.

This all sounded great, until I found out who their foreman would be.

We have a Sex Offender in our area. We discovered this by searching the Sex Offenders' Web Site. We check out the site every time somebody new comes into the area or when the kids want to hang out at a new friend's house. If you are not scoping it should.

As you have probably guessed, Chester is the foreman. I don't know what the situation is, all I know is that it happened in 1999 and his target is female minors.

When I stated my objection to offering up my boys to a secksual predator, I was met with eyerolling and some SERIOUS flack. "You have no idea what the situation was!" and "Jeez, give the guy a break!" and "MOM!! You're being ridiculous!" "Yeah, like we're gonna let him do anything to us!"

After a big discussion with the boys about never going anywhere with him and how predators work, etc. I agreed to let them go to work.

The other day, I got home from work and the boys told me they had their first day irrigating. I was kind of surprised that it had started already, but said (again with hesitation), "So, how was he?" (again with the eyerolling) "Okay," I said "As long as you don't ever get in a car with him." The boys looked at each other and said, "Too late." Mr. Chester has offered to come and pick us up and bring us home each time. (red flag) (this would mean about a 7 mile round trip for him twice a day).

I told them to call Mr. Chester and tell him I would be driving them. I drove them to the farm (2 miles straight down the road from us) and waited for them to finish. Hoss pulled up while I was waiting and wondered why I had brought them. "Chester offered to drive them." I blinked a few times and said, "Do you really think that is a good idea?" (eyerolling) "He's been re-baptized and repented and forgiven. It happened a long time ago. Give the guy a break.....haven't you ever done anything wrong before?"

"I have never diddled a child." was my answer.

He kept telling me that I was being ridiculous. I talked him through a few scenarios before saying, "Hoss. Let's just say that there is a good chance nothing would happen. But if something WERE to happen, could you forgive yourself?" He had to concede at that point.

Before going to bed last night, I asked Hoss if he would be willing to take them (I've been sick with the death of pneumonia and asthma and still continuing to work full time). "They can walk, or ride the bike." I reminded him we have one bike, two boys and it's freezing cold before dawn's crack. He didn't seem to mind. So, this morning at 5:15 am, I took the boys to their job, waited an hour for them to finish, and brought them home so they could be ready for school and I could get ready for work.

They all still think I'm being silly (except for Machine--he gets me, and has not given me an ounce of flack! Also, both of them were VERY grateful for a warm car to crawl into after braving the icy alfalfa this morning!).
I feel very strongly about it. As someone who was preyed upon by not just one predator-and survived to tell the tale.....I almost think I have a greater responsibility to protect my kids. I have FULL KNOWLEDGE of the risk and the fallout. I will continue to drive them (while it's cold-ish and dark) and will maybe let them ride the bike(s) when the weather gets better.

This is where you come in. Am I being ridiculous? What would you do?

Irradiate me with your wisdom.


ClistyB said...

hmmmm, tough one. thing is, your boys have probably been around worse offenders and you don't even know it. Remember that fact about how most molesters are close friends and family and people you interact with daily?
good rule of thumb would be that the boys never separate and have an emergency plan.
I know a man who was placed on the list because he was in his own fenced in yard doing yard work and took a leak in the bushes. Two nosy little girls were peeking in on him as they passed by and thus started a humongous hullabaloo. ever thought of actually approaching this guy and asking for some details straight from the source?

La Yen said...

I would ask him, too. Because it could have been a situation where it was stat. rape with an age difference of a year or two, or something like that.
But then I would be super wary. SUPER wary. You have been given experiences and feelings for a reason--don't ignore them.

Shar said...

I'd ask him too. I don't think you could ever be too careful with your children in these kinds of situations. Driving them yourself = good mommy. Letting Chester give them rides = bad mommy.

b. said...

Thanks c-dub for posting this here. I needed feedback and sort of thought my blog wasn't the place to ask, oldest would be annoyed that I put it on there.
He's an older man (late 50's). He's been fairly open about it with some people in the ward. It wasn't a good situation. I think it was a "I thought she was 18 kind of thing." Hoss knows and I am going to press him to tell me. I generally try to stay out of things like vision is not clear when it comes to sexual abuse.
I try very hard (and have done fairly well) not to parent from my own baggage.
I don't want to shun the guy, but there are things I can and should do to prevent a situation that is unhealthy.
I think driving them there, making sure they have a cell phone with them, having discussions, etc. is just sound practice.
I guess with the amount of flack I got from Hoss and Oldest, I just needed to know from other mom's that I'm not being overly cautious.
If I'm being an intolerant betch, I'm open to that too. Wouldn't be the first time!

compulsive writer said...

I think you are being careful, not ridiculous. And with good reason, too. It's great they are doing this together and that you have talked to them--being aware and therefore wary is good. (This from a mom who got eyerolls when she went to the top about a church leader who was pantsing boys at bball practice and then again when he wanted to have an overnighter at his grandpa's cabin and without two-deep leadership. Both my kid and myself got grief over spoiling that fun, but guess who's on the SO list now?)

Elizabeth-W said...

I would find out details, for sure. And I like the idea of the boys never being alone with the guy. If your sons think that abuse doesn't happen to teenage boys, you need to set them straight. Ask how they'd feel about leaving their sister alone in a car with him. Would that creep them out? Maybe then they'd get a better sense of where you're coming from in Mama Bear land.

Putz said...

it is so sad that you live in a country area, and you can't live a relax free range kid life...that is the sad is also sad that you just wrote a free range kid article and now have to face this problem...i am not giving any concrete advice am i//???????my teenage girl used to work at the malt shop and we used to let her walk home at midnight after her shift, or ride her we live in ephraim which is not as safe and in my youth tooele, which is also noww not as safe and i am 66 so what to i know????

Amy said...

hmmm.. interesting situation. Great advice, as always, from the more wise of the bunch.

My thoughts:

Do you really need to drill the guy on exactly what happened? What are the range of responses that you might get-- and how would you respond to each? If it turns out to be some little thing that might have been blown out of proportion would you okay the rides back and forth? If you feel that a particular answer/set of answers will change your thoughts/actions then it might be beneficial to be up front and ask him exactly why he is on the list. If asking him will not truly benefit either one of you, perhaps you should just leave it be.

Also, don't forget, if you're doubting whether it's mommy instinct or paranoia you are entitled to pray about and receive confirmation on it. Even counsel with your bishop on it. He will be intimately acquainted with the situation and may be able to give good counsel on the matter.

My other feeling is that you could just throw all of the above out the window and go with your initial instinct, which is, "better safe than sorry".

Really, you can't go wrong with this route. I mean, if someone had a problem with smoking would you leave packs of cigarettes around with them alone? What if they'd only smoked cigars in the past? Would it make a difference whether they smoked 20 times a day or a few times a week? Might their pride be hurt if people think they can't be trusted alone with smokes? Might it really be in everyone's best interest to just avoid any compromising situation to begin with and leave it at that?

Bad analogy.... I'm not very good at that. But I think you get the point? No harm done in working a little harder to protect your kids. I don't see how they could be hurt by having their mom drop them off/pick them up or walk/ride bikes. There COULD be a problem with Chester driving. So why bother going there??

Lisa said...

b. As a mom, I don't know how you could do anything differently. If "you don't know the circumstances" means that it would never happen again, then you need to know what those circumstances were. I don't think you are being unreasonable. You are a good mom to help your boys have work and make sure they are safe and YOU are sick and working, too. No one could say for sure how they would react unless they were in your situation. No one wants to even come close to it.

Chicken Little said...

You're doing the right thing. There's a good reason that there's a sex offenders register. Whatever did happen, and I'm not sure that the details are important, you're acting prudently to make sure that your boys are safe - exactly what a good mom should do.

JustRandi said...

De-lurking to say that I don't think you can get too far off base listening to your gut.

I liked Lisa's analogy.

I'm sorry for Chester because this will follow him for the rest of his life. But you have the responsibility to protect your kids.

Am'n2Deep said...

I only have a few minutes, so I hope I can make sense in my comment. Here goes...Okay, first, you are absolutely NOT being ridiculous. You know that I cannot separate my opinion from my personal experiences, but I also do not feel like I am irrational because of them. If anything, I feel all the more wiser for them--and so are you. Continue doing what you are doing, and keep the communication wide open. It sounds like Machine is one that you can communicate with on this. I would not let ANYONE else guide your intuition--not even a bishop because they may not have the experience needed to give guidance. And I think it's really naieve to believe that just because someone has been rebaptized, there is nothing to worry about. We both know exactly how manipulative, deceiving and dishonest a sexual predator can be. Being cautious does not mean that you are condemning this man. I am all about forgiveness. But forgiveness does not mean we go into denial. If he is not a danger, he should understand where you are coming from. If he doesn't, that is not your problem. You don't have to come from a place of judgement or fear--just wisdom, and I know you have it.

Tonya said...

I don't think you are overreacing at all. We were given our intuition as mothers for a reason. I know that people make mistakes and can change but this is just something that I wouldn't want to take a chance on.

The what if factor would be enough for me.

Mrs. Organic said...

All I know is things still happen despite our best efforts, but at least you can say you did your best to protect them.

I think you are being completely rational and a good mommy.

Klin said...

From a therapist who has worked with SO's. Not a victim of one. A trauma therapist for the victims. Mother of 4. Now that you have my resume-

The sick feeling in your gut is the Lord's gift to you. It's called mother's instinct.

Some of my current clients were victims as a teen ager.

Keep on doing what you are doing.

Tell Hoss and the boys that you are the boss and what you say goes. No questions asked. The boys will not ride with him. They are never to be alone with him, EVER. Regardless of how long ago it was he made choices that affect the choices he can make now. One of those is being alone with children of any age.

If I understand the facts correctly:
It was in 1999 and he now 50ish and he "thought" she was 18. So in his 40's he thought it was okay to be with a young lady that's 18? That is a disturbing thinking pattern.

La Yen said...

Ew. I just read Klin's comment. Ew. That is NOT ok. Ew.

I would also have the porno talk with them a lot. A LOT. Because that is something that all predators like, no matter what "type" they are.

And, have you read The Gift of Fear? Super validating.

And I am going to put you on as a regular contributor. Because you are a good mommy.

miggy said...

Are you being irrational? Not just no, hell no. You don't need to justify your reasons for protecting your children--even if it's your children who want justification.

Also, I don't agree with confronting the guy. You can't trust him--and not because he's a sexual predator but because they're your children. He may or may not give you the truth and you just can't gamble on someone else's word. Like Randy said, it's unfortunate that this choice will follow him around the rest of his life, but they're your children. And I believe if he's truly humble and repentant he would understand and not take offense that a mom wouldn't want her sons with him.

Trust yourself.


Protecting your kids is NEVER ridiculous. NEVER! In your profession you know that the predeliction towards young victims doesn't really go away.

Our friendly neighborhood pedophile is back at church after a 5 year ordered absence from his home. Terrific! He still gives me the heebs. What kind of wife allows a man back home after he's played touchy-feely with his own children?

Sparcam said...

what awesome readers/friends you have! wise people who are not leading you astray. as a baggage carrier myself, who hopes her children NEVER have to come in contact with anything so demoralizing, listen to your instinct like everyone else has said. hang in there!

swampbaby said...

You listen to your gut feelings and follow them. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or does. You are their mother for a reason, and you are entitled to that extra mom sense that no one else is. Don't second guess yourself and don't feel it necessary to explain yourself. Sometimes the answer really is just "no, because I said so."

i i eee said...

Good mommy, indeed.

I think what you're doing is best! Besides, men and/or boys like to think that they're tough and whatnot, and that something like that would never happen to them. As women, we're trained to be wary, since we're always told that someone is out there to rape us if given a chance. (Slight over-exaggeration to make my point.) So they might roll their eyes, but you're being smart.

Rynell said...

I honestly do not think you can overreact to this.

I would say more, but I think Klin did a great job of summarizing.

You are a very good mommy.

soybeanlover said...

Everyone's said it, but let's say it again. You're being smart. If the boys don't believe it can't happen to them, show them news articles of the Pope's most recent US visit and ask them why he apologized so much? Anyone can be hurt, and it is much better to be safe than sorry.

You aren't being unforgiving, it is just learning from people's past. When someone is trying to lose weight and change their eating habits they don't buy a bunch of chocolate and leave it on the kitchen table, same thing, Chester may have changed, but your just keeping the chocolate off his kitchen table.

Queen Scarlett said...

wow - just wanted to add my Amen to all the other commentors about your wisdom in listening to your gut.

The fact is...even if you were to ask the guy about the situation - you can't... well I can't trust he'd be honest. That's the reality we live in.

And... given that you said you had your experience with this - I think you're the only one who can adequately judge this situation. You know what it's like...and maybe this is one reason why you are so vigilant about checking the registry and making a huge point about taking care of your boys when you're sick. I personally hope the boys in your family (your big boy hubby too) that you are a living hero. Heroes stand up for what they believe even when everyone around them is calling them crazy.

I believe that as mothers - as responsible adults we have a RIGHT - a God given right to Judge. We are to judge the best situations for our families, ourselves. People often misunderstand the council to judge not in the scriptures. We are not to make final judgments - but we are always responsible to make judgments in our daily lives. Those judgments, how they affect us and our families are what we are responsible for...and in my limited knowledge - what we will be judged by one day.

So.. B... YOU ARE AWESOME - Proud to know you...Proud to know you followed your motherly instincts.

Queen Scarlett said...

ps. Last thing about people who think... sexual offenders..."oh big deal-it was statutory..." Really? I don't care. It doesn't matter how "ok" it may seem. There is no tolerance necessary when it comes to sexual offenders. NONE. There are some lines that you (general sense) can't cross with me. In a world of constant "tolerance"... I am one that will not bend to every whim of PC-dom. According to stats - by the time someone is convicted of sexual offense - they've already committed 12 of them. Next time you get just this piddly story ... just remember - you don't know the whole story. We are often ...too willing to be naive.

b. said...

WOW! I have been so blessed by your words of wisdom. Thank you.
I feel a lot better about doing what I knew to be the right thing.

Now a little follow up, I asked Hoss what he knew, he was told it had something to do with child porn. Child Porn.
The result was he lost everything. His family (wife and kids), his job, his home, his membership, etc.
He is making a good effort to come back and do good. I wish him all the luck this world has to offer. I think the point has been made....and very well...that we should support him in his quest by not placing temptation in his path.
He was so pleased with my boys' work ethic and ability to think for themselves, he didn't even show up last night or this morning (said he watched from his house). I will continue to be vigilant and have a little more faith in my own intuition.
You are the best!
Thank You!

Geo said...

Wish I hadn't missed this conversation earlier. But b., I want to tell you I think you're not just a good mommy, you're a great mommy. All the eye-rolling in the world can't negate your own inspiration. You should never have to apologize, not even to your husband, for being wise and careful. Because you get certain feelings doesn't mean you know exactly why, but you can be sure that those feelings are there for an important reason, and they can't lead you into trouble if you listen to them. If you're ever too sick to take kids where they need to go and Hoss won't cooperate, call me. I love driving before dawn's crack.

~j. said...

You know what to do. You're the mom.

W3 Ward Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
W3 Ward Blog said...

Let's say he WASN'T on the SO's list... would your actions be the same?

[nod your head up and down]

There's always a first time for every offender, they just need the opportunity.

Good mommy for protecting your babies.

(P.S. This is Lucky... I'm not able to change my user account)

Millie said...

Hey, I just found this blog. :)

b., I'm grateful for great moms like you to make these tricky situations a little less tricky for the rest of us. Erring on the side of caution where the babies are concerned is ALWAYS good. You don't owe this guy anything, including access to your sons, whether he's repented or not, ward member or not.

Every good mother I know would say the same.

sara said...

Not ridiculous in the least. It seems to me that you have struck a perfect balance of allowing them to work there, while calming your nerves by providing their transportation. I think you sound like an awesome mother. Yes, awesome.

Micalanne said...

Amen, amen, amen to all who advise to follow your gut. Because the offender could not keep himself within the "boundaries" of respectful, appropriate behavior, it will be required of every mother of every child who will ever be in his presence again to keep him within the "boundaries". If he never harms another person again until the day he dies, it is because there were mothers preventing it. There is no other authority to your gut feelings regarding your children but you.

Irina said...

I would not let my boys take the job, never mind getting in a car with a convicted sex offender! Better safe than sorry.

LuluBunny said...

Well, I'm not a mommy (good or bad - though I'm sure I would be a bad one) so I'm not sure I'm entitled to post on here (hopefully Homeland Security will not be knocking on my door for this intrusion, lol). But I was trying to catch up on posts I've missed reading lately, read b's original post from her blog (via bloglines) but when I went to comment on it I found it removed and posted here instead. So here I am.

Anyway, b. - it sounds to me like you've gotten loads of wonderful advice already, but I just had to tell you that IMHO - YOU RULE as a mommy. I think you TOTALLY did the right thing.

I think the details of what Chester did matter MUCH less than the fact that at some point in his past he crossed a line that should NEVER be crossed. Chester has an inability to respect basic boundaries. I wouldn't want that around ANYONE I cared about - no matter what the details are/were.

I know Chester's not the only one (my abuser is in his late 50's, married to the same woman for about 25 years, with two sons in their early twenties (and he's an ordained minister) .. he's not on a list of any sort because I never reported what he did when I was 6 and 7), but Chester IS one that you know of. And his 'repentance' process is hardly your responsibility. That's between him and God, and you're under no obligation to offer your children up to test how he handles temptation. It's not shunning him to do all you can to not leave him alone with your children, it's just being responsibly cautious.

And yes, there are a lot of reasons (some of them sort of stupid) why a person could be put on the SO list. I mean, I'm not really sure a stat. rape situation between a 21 year old guy and a consenting 16 year old girl belongs on the same list as a 45 year old man and a three year old. But I will say that one thing to consider is that I don't think the warped sexual attraction pedophiles feel toward children has much to do with a particular 'type' in the conventional sense. I don't think it matters very much to them whether the victim is male or female, or 5 years old or 15 - it's not really the child that matters, it's the power over the child that matters. So even if Chester had a history only with one particular gender or age range and it's not the gender or age of your kids - I still wouldn't leave him alone with anyone I cared about - and I don't think that's paranoid. In my mind it's a boundary issue, plain and simple, and Chester apparently can't negotiate them successfully.

Anyway, love ya b. - and you do rule! :)

mieroc said...

many people here,, huhu

Terrence Flendersen said...

Amen, amen, amen to all who advise to follow your gut. Because the offender could not keep himself within the "boundaries" of respectful, appropriate behavior, it will be required of every mother of every child who will ever be in his presence again to keep him within the "boundaries". If he never harms another person again until the day he dies, it is because there were mothers preventing it. There is no other authority to your gut feelings regarding your children but you. irrigation calgary