I like Friends Cafe on the Mayaguez square. They make nice drinks. But it happens every time. EVERY time. That creepy guy is always there. Creepy guys I can handle. Creepy guys who slide on over to touch my girl’s head even though she winces, shies away and sometimes cries when he does it, I can’t handle.
I don’t go to Friends Cafe very often. Maybe twice a month. And every time I tell myself I won’t let it happen. I’ll let my Mama Bear explode and my demur Midwestern Polite Girl take a hike. Thoughts like, “he’s harmless…he’s just toughing her head…he doesn’t mean anything…” permeate my thoughts. But no. What does my daughter think? Maybe he really is harmless. But all she feels is scared, violated, insecure, and unsafe. She’s two years old.
But I let it happen again! I even told the friends I was with, “There’s the guy who always comes over to touch P’s hair.” And then he appeared. He brought over napkins for the kids (nice enough). I should’ve read her body language right there as she cowered into her chair. But before I knew it his hand was on her head, which she was trying to hide, and she began to cry silently. Why the hell didn’t I say something? I’m too damn nice. He didn’t mean harm. I thought maybe this time he wouldn’t. I don’t know how to say “Get the hell away from my child can’t you see she hates you and your actions?” in Spanish. And I’m too damn nice.
No more. I let my daughter down, and I knew it. I picked her up, told her she doesn’t have to let ANY one touch her if she didn’t want to. I told her I was sorry, that she was safe now, and I’ll do better in the future. Of course, all my blathering while trying to keep myself from crying made her reaction worse. She cried and cried because she could still see him sitting at a nearby table. As I started to gather our things the man came back, picked up her abandoned smoothie and tried to hand it to her. Maybe he felt bad? But jeez, take a hint and LEAVE US ALONE! I took it outta his hand and said “no toques” which means “don’t touch”. I think I’ll have to skip being subtle. It’s clearly not working. We hit the shoe store across the street where moods improved dramatically. But if you’re at Friend’s Cafe sometime next week when we have more visitors coming, you might hear me being assertive with my new Spanish phrases: Dejala quieta and Ella no le gusta su atencion. And if those don’t work, I’ll just use English. And I won’t be subtle.
I think this struck me so intensely because a) I didn’t take action even though I knew what would happen and b) I let shyness/language barriers get the best of me. Lessons learned.