So once upon a time when we lived in the Big Bad City where police helicopters were more plentiful than stars in the smoggy LA night sky, my ex told me about this magical place where children roam free and everyone knows everyone and it’s like Mayberry only in Hebrew and with shmarim instead of apple pie, and blah blah blah.
And after a particularly hectic week of shuttling back and forth in the car from the pediatrician’s office to Rite Aid, and then to Coffee Bean, and then to the Barnes and Noble play area and then back to the pediatrician’s office (don’t ask), I bought the dream. I wanted to move to a place where children play all day and come home only when the stars come out. A place where the grocery store, the clinic, the park, and the pool are all a stones throw away from each other. A place where the green lawns are unblemished by picket fences that separate neighbors, where everyone weighs in on the goings-on of everyone else, because that’s how you roll in a community, where everyone feels that they have a personal stake in the successes and failures of each freaking avocado tree, let alone each child.
And the fact that my kids are thriving here makes me love this place.
But it turns out I was sold bucolic bumblefuck under false pretenses: This place isn’t safe.
And our little fairytale bubble just burst and now there’s unicorn shit everywhere.
It turns out, there’s a convicted rapist strolling around here from lawn to lawn, because–remember–we ain’t got no fences. And, oh, wait, here’s the kicker–he isn’t “just” a rapist: He’s a rapist who brutalized the body of a girl my daughter’s age.
And he’s here.
He isn’t a member of the kibbutz. Instead, he’s here under the care of a kibbutz member who works with him as part of a program to rehabilitate former criminals and bring them back into society. Wow, doesn’t that sound nice? Fine. You know what? Yeah, there are some criminals who can be rehabiliated. Gangbangers? Drug addicts? Investment bankers? After a loooooooooot of therapy and a looooooooot of supervision, then maybe. I’m down with that. But “people” (and I use that term loosely) who not only force themselves on someone sexually, but do it to a freaking child? No. Never. Not in a million years.
And statistics back me up. Men and women who get off on children are broken beyond repair. Save me any speeches about forgiveness and redemption. These folks almost always go on to do it again. And again. And again. And I don’t care why they became the way they did–whether they were beaten or molested or they’re just missing a chunk of basic humanity–I really don’t give a shit. There are some things that I can never understand. Or forgive. Or want near my children.
And evidently, the kibbutz feels the same way. Because after a meeting they decided that this guy is not allowed on the premises. At all. Ever. Which is awesome.
But before we all join hands and dance the hora, we must realize that this is a wakeup call. Evil does exist in this world–even on a kibbutz where everyone knows everyone. And just because this piece of scum is gone doesn’t mean that there aren’t people living near my kids who would seek to harm them.
And statistically speaking, there probably are.
So what do I do? Do I tell my kids that they can’t run outside and around the corner to their friend’s house? Do I tell my daughter that she can’t hug the male family friend she’s known almost her enitre life because what if–GOD FORBID–he’s waaaaaaay too into that kind of thing? Should I follow my kids around like a shadow, smothering their self-confidence because I’m afraid that something might happen to them?
Hell, might as well move back to LA where every second is scheduled, where kids are never left alone, and where child psychologists are a dime a dozen.
But I won’t.
Because this place is good for them. And with the right guidelines–like, 1. Let me know where you are going. 2. Stay together and 3. Come home before the stars come out–maybe I can find that balance between keeping them physically safe and emotionally secure.
But all that said, if the man who raped that little girl comes anywhere near my children? Well, then this kibbutz will probably have to add a murderer to their list of on-premise felons.