Growing up until I was 7 years old, I lived in this small house with a medium sized backyard that had a fence that met the neighbors yard.
This fence also ran down to a narrow and long garage that lined the rest of what separated the next door neighbors yard and mine.
Looking back on this I realize how bad this could have gone but as a kid I was very trusting.
When I got to the age that I could play in the fully fenced yard on my own, around 6 yrs, my dad told me I could only play in certain areas and to not go in others,
one of them being anywhere near that fence line. Well whether I forgot his rule or didn't think it mattered in this situation, I remember one day a man coming to that fence line to greet me.
He seemed very nice and friendly, and since my parents had raised me with a strong respect for adults, I saw no reason to go say hi, as I was a very social kid.
We talked and then he left and that was it....
This just talking happened for awhile, when it was nice out and I was alone, he would sometimes come to the fence and say hi, not a lot, but over the course of a summer maybe 10 times.
I truthfully can't remember what the conversations were like, but I do remember feeling like he was one of my closest friends. I didn't know it then but he was grooming me.
A summer of this ended and eventually the next summer came with me being a year older, and still very naive.
I believe I had told my mom about my "friend" in the backyard, but she thought I was talking about an imaginary friend, or the neighbor girl that would come over sometimes.
For that summer the same greetings began.
This summer though, he began inviting me over, saying he had a pool and that we could go swimming, which sounded so fun to me, but I knew my parents wouldn't let me, so I said no... many times.
One time when I was at the fence line talking to the neighbor, my dad came out and I told him to meet my friend.
My dad became absolutely furious! He raced over and told me to never ever talk to him ever again, that he was a very bad man, and for me to go into the house.
When I was heading for the house I remember listening to him yell at the neighbor with threats to never talk to me again. I wasn't talked to about it after that.
Well because I felt angry with my dad for yelling at me (he had a temper) and saying the next door neighbor was a bad man,
I decided I would continue to talk to the neighbor because I thought deep in my heart he was good.
The next time we met at the fence he gave me a moon ring, saying it was his late wife's and I deserved it because I was pretty.
Then a few times after that when he asked for me to come over to go swimming I gave in and said why not, because I REALLY wanted to go swimming.
I got my bathing suit from home to bring it over, and I walked around the fence and began walking to behind his house where there was a pool with the man.
My dad had randomly decided to go outside to the garage and saw me walking with him. He ran over, grabbed me, yelling in the process, and called the cops.
Cops showed up, he got arrested and sent to jail for a little bit, and my dad finally told me the truth.
Apparently he was a registered child sex offender with a nasty charger, and wasn't allowed to talk to kids at all for the rest of his life or he would be sent back to jail for some time.
Also apparently there was no water in his pool, I later found out.
I feel like the icing on the cake is that my dad being the only one that new the situation, did a horrible job of explaining the danger, and instead made me want to prove him wrong out of anger.
Later on in life when my parents got divorced, my dad, brother and I were all invited to a swimming party at their house, with the guy there fresh out of jail.
And my dad was okay with the situation cause he would be there, but not only that, really wanted us all to go as a family. I said no because I felt scared even though my dad persisted.
Parents please don't be selfish.