Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sister Suffragette Eludes Stalker

We're clearly soldiers in petticoats
And dauntless crusaders for woman's votes
Though we adore men individually
We agree that as a group they're rather stupid!

Cast off the shackles of yesterday!
Shoulder to shoulder into the fray!
Our daughters' daughters will adore us
and they'll sing in grateful chorus
"Well done, Sister Suffragette!"

From Kensington to Billingsgate
One hears the restless cries!
From ev'ry conrer of the land:
"Womankind, arise!"
Political equality and equal rights with men!
Take heart! For Missus Pankhurst has been clapped in irons again!

No more the meek and mild subservients we!
We're fighting for our rights, militantly! 
Never you fear!

So, cast off the shackles of yesterday!
Shoulder to shoulder into the fray!
Our daughters' daughters will adore us
And they'll sing in grateful chorus
"Well done, Sister Suffragette!"

Yesterday was an adrenaline filled day.  Exhausting, alarming, and exciting all at once.

Monday night I stayed awake, past midnight.  Procrastination is not my friend, although we are very close.  I was studying up on all the candidates and issues being brought to the polls.  I refused to be an un-informed voter.

You see, yesterday was my first time voting.  I say that with quite a bit of shame, actually.  The fact that it took me 13 years to vote is despicable   But I also say it with pride, because I voted!  I did my civic duty and went to the polls, and my vote was cast, thus, helping to shape the future.

There are many reasons as to why it took me so long to vote, but what it essentially boiled down to was ignorance and fear.  I didn't know how to vote.  I was terrified of it.  I didn't know where to go, what I needed to bring, if there was a certain time I needed to be there, etc.  I was afraid of going in, and being told I was in the wrong place.  To me, it seemed like jumping through hoops, and I didn't want to deal with that.  Also, I didn't know where to go to find information on the candidates and it seemed silly for me to go in and vote for people based on the impression I received from seeing their names for the first time.  And so, because of that, I had never voted.

This time around, though, I made sure I was informed.  With the kids preschool, I am the vice chair for the policy council.  Each month we have a meeting, and in that meeting, there is some sort of training.  I insisted we have a training on how to make your voice heard in your community, thus learning how to vote, and all the ins and outs of that.  I am also planing on attending town hall meetings, now that I know more about them.  But I digress.

Monday night I stayed up very late, reading everything there was to read, writing down on a paper the names I decided to vote for.  I knew I would never be able to remember them all.  There were so many people I read about!  Tuesday morning dawned and Jeffrey woke up bright and early.  Which is not normal for him.  He is a night owl to the soul.  But for the past few nights he had been going to bed around eight because he had not been feeling well.  I suppose all the sleep finally caught up with him, and 5:30 came around to find him bright eyed and bushy tailed.  Possibly for the first time in his life!

Once I wake up in the mornings, I can't go back to sleep.  And that morning was no exception.  Besides, the excitement of going to the polls for the first time was coursing through my veins.  I, too, got up and got ready for the day.  I got the kids ready, and we were headed to the polls by 8:15.  It was wonderful.

We got to vote at Keith's school.  We walked in, signed in, and went straight to the ballot machine.  Keith helped me cast my vote.  He was very excited to vote, as well.  He listened to the debates with me, and discussed things with me about the candidates.  It was heart-warming to hear the 5 year old talk about his reasons for preferring one candidate over another.  And surprisingly enough, they were actually very good arguments.  Regardless of what anyone said about one candidate or the other, he held firm to his beliefs and I was so proud.  So it was a big deal for him to help me vote.  Faye, on the other hand, played in the curtains and ran around making as much noise as she could.  Luckily, it didn't take us long to vote, and both kids received a sticker which they wore proudly all day long.

Voting was a wonderful experience, and my heart goes out to those people (mainly in Florida) who stood in line for 8 hours, some of them, just to cast their vote.  Good for them!

After we voted, Faye and I dropped Keith off in his classroom and headed out the door.

And this is where my day took a dramatic turn.

I buckled her in, and we headed to the gym.  It was Pilates day, and I love Pilates   The gym is practically next door to the school, so we didn't have to drive far.  I got Faye out, and then juggled everything I had to take in with me.  The day care card for Faye, my water bottle, yoga mat, and gym bag, all while holding her hand in the parking lot.  We were parked a ways from the front doors as the lot was crowded.  Everyone loves Pilates   We headed for the door, and a car pulled out in front of us.  I recognized the driver.  It was one of the fathers from Keith's class.  I had talked with him a few times, but had been avoiding him because he was getting to be a bit inappropriate   I had been taking Keith out of class early for the past few weeks so I wouldn't have to see that particular dad.  I had been dropping him off late, so I could avoid him.

It all started out innocently enough.  We had talked briefly at one of the activities.  I introduced him to Jeffrey, he introduced me to his wife, we chatted for 5 minutes about the fun activity, and then went our separate ways.  A while later, while waiting for the kids to be let out of class, we began talking again.  He mentioned how fun it would be for our kids to play together, and I agreed.  He asked for my phone number, and I gave it to him, thinking going to the park would be a lot of fun for the kids.  Later that day he began to text me.  I responded, because he kept saying how important it was for him to have a friend.  Oh, I don't know if I mentioned, I speak Spanish.  He doesn't speak English.  So it was important for him to have an English speaking friend.  Someone who could help him learn the language.  Besides, I love speaking Spanish.  I love practicing and being able to communicate in a different language.  It just makes me happy.  So we texted a bit that first day.

He tried texting me the next day, and every day after that, but I didn't respond because it was weird for me.  I didn't want to be texting some guy all the time.  Especially because the things he was saying were beginning to be a little inappropriate.  So I ignored his calls and his texts.  And they stopped coming.

A few days later, he told me that he had dropped his phone in water, and so couldn't text me.  I was relieved.  But I mostly didn't see him often, because I was late getting Keith to school, and late picking him up.  And then the dad began to hang around with his daughter until I showed up to get Keith.  We would visit momentarily and then go our ways.  I was always in a hurry, since I picked up a little girl and had to take her home, too. That was my excuse, anyway.  I just didn't want to see him or talk to him.

I didn't like that he had been hanging around waiting for me to show up, so I talked to the teacher, and we arranged for me to get their early and pick Keith up before any of the other parents arrived, thus avoiding the dad.  But I didn't always get out and away before the other parents showed up.  Sometimes they showed up early, too, and would just wait for the class to get out.

Last Thursday was one of the days I didn't get away before the other parents arrived.  After I had buckled the kids in their seats, I got into my seat to drive away, and found the dad standing next to my van.  I got out, and he began talking again.  Now, it is important to understand that my Spanish skills are not what they once were.  I understand about 75% of what is said to me, but a lot of that, I don't understand until after the conversation is over.  I hear the words, but the comprehension comes later with some things.  Most conversations with him went that way.  I mean, I can keep up a conversation, but I don't understand everything until later.  I don't know if that makes sense.  Anyway, at one point in the conversation he said something about knowing it was bad, but he couldn't help it... not fully understanding, I just smiled, said, "We are just friends.  Only friends.  But I have to get the kids home." and left.  It wasn't until I was heading home that the full meaning of those words hit me.

Flash forward to yesterday at the gym.  I was already late for the class, so I was trying to hurry in.  And I didn't want to talk to him.  But believing I should always be polite and kind, I stopped briefly.  He asked me for my number because he had gotten a new phone.  My mind went blank.  I couldn't remember my number.  I told him that, told him I was in a hurry, and would talk with him later.  Then Faye and I hurried into the gym.

The whole time I was there, the situation bothered me.  I didn't have a relaxing work out.  I was more tense when I left than I was when I arrived.  Finally I figured out what was had me so worked up.  He had followed me from the school to the gym!

The creepiness of that fact would not leave my mind.  It made me uneasy.  I had never encouraged him.  He is married (I assume), and I am married, and he knows full well, I am married.  And he followed me to the gym!  I was so glad I had not returned home after dropping Keith off.  I don't want him to know where I live!

I sent Jeffrey a message telling him the situation, and he worried about me the rest of the day.  He sent me texts all day asking if we were safe.  Every time I got in the car, I noticed I was constantly checking my rear view mirror.  I took intricate ways home.  I didn't realize I was doing these things, until the day had ended and I was processing everything right before I fell asleep.

I called one of the people from the head start office (the kids preschool) and spoke with her about my concerns.  She suggested I talk with him about how inappropriate his actions are.  I agreed.  I was planning to do that anyway.

But then Jeffrey called me at lunch.  He told me to go to the school and take Keith out right then.  It was early enough that no parents should have been there.  He then told me to call the lady I had spoken with earlier and see if I could get Keith into a different school.  If not, then we would be pulling Keith from the program.  He told me, under no condition was I to ever speak with that dad again.  Not even to tell him how inappropriate he is.

After much string pulling, we found a way to possibly get Keith into a different school.  I am still waiting to hear back on which school and when.  Until then, Jeffrey doesn't want me going near the school.  I am sad, though.  Keith had just barely gotten used to school.  He was liking it, finally.  Mornings were no longer a struggle.  He enjoyed going to school and playing with the other kids there.  After all we went through to get him to like it, I am sad to have to pull him out, and possibly start all over.  But safety first!

After school, the kids and I stayed home, and read library books.  It was lovely.  Once they had gone to bed, Jeffrey and I had a long discussion about different scenarios.  What to do if being followed.  What to do if... for many different situations.  We made certain I have the police dispatch phone number in my phone.  We talked about pepper spray.  And I hated every second of it.  I loved living in a world where I believed everyone to be good.  Sometimes misunderstood, but always good.  I don't like that the naivety is being stripped from my eyes.  Sigh.  But I suppose everyone gets to a point where they have to take precautions.  It isn't safe to leave doors unlocked anymore.  It isn't safe to go out for a walk or run alone when it is dusk or dawn anymore.  It isn't safe to do a lot of things that were safe when I was a little kid.

Oh how times change!  Women voting?!  Creepy stalkers?!  For better or for worse, times have changed.  At least there are some perks because of it.


Familia Morales said...

Congratulations for your first time voting! I have always loved participating in election days-it's kind of like a holiday for me.

On the stalker thing--eek! Scary stuff. I hope Keith can transition into a new school smoothly.

Confessions of a PTO Mom said...

If only I'd had your foresight....

Susan Anderson said...

Better safe than sorry, Amy.

And Keith will make a good adjustment to a new school, over time.

Hugs to you!


Em said...

SO impressed that you did so much voting research. i usually call my cousin and have him inform on things the night before and then i make up my mind.

that is creepy. did you put out a fb emergency status to find another school yet? that's what i would do.

Emmy said...

Yes what a roller coaster post! First so glad you voted, that is awesome and now you know what it is all about so can do it again.

And the stalker- so so sorry. That is very creepy that he followed you to the gym and totally not the least bit appropriate.

And yes, glad you are doing things to protect yourself.