My Best 4 Years

 “I remember your bare feet, down the hallway. I remember your little laugh.” 


      I have to talk about something hard today, because my heart has been hurting.

     My little brother came into the world on September 24th of 2012, and made my heart so full of love. He was the child of my father and his wife, so my half-brother, but I never felt so close to someone. He had bright blue eyes, and the second I saw them I was locked in. He was so perfect and pure. He hadn’t made any mistakes yet, and didn’t have time behind him where the world messed him up. I vowed to protect him, no matter what, and never stop loving him. 

     Having my little brother made the time spent with my father easier. He made me laugh and smile, and I knew I would be okay because he lit up the room with his smile, or dancing. 

     He gave me the best hugs.

      He was ticklish on the bottom of his left foot, and he used to scream when I blew raspberries on his tummy. He couldn’t function right if he didn’t have juice when he woke up in the morning. The thing I loved most about him was when he squeezed my pinky finger with his tiny, tight fist.

I can still feel you hold my hand, little man.

     Things got tough in the few years I was with him, as most of you know. I made a very hard decision to leave my father’s house after the abuse got too bad. 

     With that, came the consequence of losing my precious, baby brother. I knew this. I thought I was prepared to leave without him. 

I remember your blue eyes, looking into mine, like we had our own secret club.

     When I knew what decision I had to make, I couldn’t stand to look at him. One of the nights before I left, I ended up having to babysit him. He was with me in the living room, dancing to Pharrell’s “Happy”, his favorite song at the time, when I just burst into hysterics. He stopped dancing and sat in my lap with his Cheerios. He didn’t understand why I was crying. I didn’t want him to understand.

     He started laughing, then realized I was crying and put his fingers on my chin. “Tay Tay, was wrong?” I didn’t answer, obviously, because that made me cry even more. He then put out his finger, circling it around my nose and making a bzzzzzBOOP noise, something we did to each other. “Tay Tay okay?”

      I just smiled at him, tears falling down my face like Niagara Falls at this point. “Tay Tay okay.” 

     He stood up, wobbling on his heels and bent down, kissing me with his eyes open. 

      “I love you, I love you, I love you.” I remember repeating to him. 

      “I wuv you too.” He said, stretching out to escape my hug. He walked away and started playing with his firetruck. 

     That was the last conversation I remember having with him. I wish, more than anything, I would have made it last longer. I would have made him hang on a little longer. I would have kissed him harder. But I didn’t.

     I don’t regret leaving my father’s house a bit. With any decision comes consequences. And this is a consequence I will forever have to deal with. 

     I can’t protect him anymore. I can’t see him anymore. My sister updates me all of the time on how he is, what he’s learning in preschool, what joke he made. Without her, I wouldn’t even know he was alive. He doesn’t know that I am who I am. He refers to me as “Amber’s sister.”

     That breaks my heart.

     I have a song for him, that I listen to when I miss him more than usual. I encourage you to read the lyrics, though they don’t fully pertain to my situation. I’ll post a link to the song as well.

I remember your bare feet down the hallway
I remember your little laugh
Race cars on the kitchen floor, plastic dinosaurs
I love you to the moon and back

I remember your blue eyes looking into mine
Like we had our own secret club
I remember you dancing before bed time
Then jumping on me, waking me up

I can still feel you hold my hand, little man
And even the moment I knew
You fought it hard like an army guy
Remember I leaned in and whispered to you

Come on baby with me, we’re gonna fly away from here
You were my best four years

I remember the drive home
When the blind hope turned to crying and screaming “Why?”
Flowers pile up in the worst way, no one knows what to say
About a beautiful boy who died

And it’s about to be Halloween
You could be anything you wanted if you were still here
I remember the last day when I kissed your face
And whispered in your ear

Come on baby with me, we’re gonna fly away from here
Out of this curtained room in this hospital grey, we’ll just disappear
Come on baby with me, we’re gonna fly away from here
You were my best four years

What if I’m standing in your closet trying to talk to you?
What if I kept the hand-me-downs you won’t grow into?
And what if I really thought some miracle would see us through?
What if the miracle was even getting one moment with you?

Come on baby with me, we’re gonna fly away from here
Come on baby with me, we’re gonna fly away from here
You were my best four years

I remember your bare feet down the hallway
I love you to the moon and back

https://youtu.be/7WiGTaD1VRc

     Tay Tay always loves you, Austin Ray. To the moon and back.
Until next time,

Tay❤

Take a Risk, Take a Chance, Make a Change

“I spread my wings and I learn how to fly.”

     Today’s blog is relatively cut and dry, because I just needed to get this all out there. I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media about how people are “scared to do this” or “scared to do that.” People. We can’t let fear run our lives. 

     While fear can keep you safe, it’s not exactly your best friend when you’re attempting to broaden your horizons. 

     It’s not easy to step into unknown territory, where you’re not exactly sure how far it is until your feet hit the ground. Some stay away from the idea of New, because it’s out of their comfort zone. 

     But what if no one ever tried anything New? What if our entire lives amounted to nothing, because we were too frightened to step outside of The Comfort Zone? There would be no Picasso, no Shakespeare, no Johnathan Larson. The world would never know of Beethoven, or even Oprah Winfrey.  

     These names are known to the world because they all had the courage to do something that scared them, and became successful because of it. 

     Not every single one of us are destined to be widely known and infamous for our choices in life. It’s just not realistic. We can still take away from those that are, and establish the notion into our own lives. 

     Maybe if you take a chance, you’ll earn a promotion at work. Or take the risk of wanting to go cliff diving. There are benefits to every experience you have. Sometimes, that benefit may just end up being the life lesson of “well I’m never doing that again..” In the end, you learn and grow, and that is the most valuable thing. 

     If you don’t take risks, you’ll forever be sitting in your bed with the sheets to your chin. You won’t have a life. 

     Swallow the fear and jump into the water head first. 

     Just imagine what life would be like if no one took chances. It would be a colorless, monotone world to live in. How sad that really is. 

     Get out there into the world, and pack fear into your suitcase. 

      Stop living your life just because you’re scared. You may be on the brink of something so incredibly beautiful.
Until next time, 
Tay❤

I Hope You’re Somewhere Praying

       (One year since the publishing of You Will Not Win)

     People always ask me “If you could change what’s happened to you, would you take it all back and redo?” And in all honesty, I have a lot of difficulty with an answer for that question.

Well, you almost had me fooled. Told me that I was nothing without you.

     It’s been hard not having my dad. I used to see fathers with their little girls, hand-in-hand in the street and go cry for 30 minutes in my car. Sometimes, I still do. It isn’t easy. I didn’t have him to teach me how to change a flat tire, and I will never have the father/daughter relationships you see on TV. I see baby pictures of us or hear stories from my birth and just want to cry. My friends have their fathers on Father’s Day, and for me it is the saddest day on earth. It is hard sometimes to not be wanted by someone who is supposed to want you.

      No child deserves to be abused in any form, whether it be physical or verbal. I wish I could have hugged my father, or felt like he loved me back. I wish I had that.

..and after everything you’ve done, I can thank you for how strong I have become 

     But, I don’t think I would be the same person I am right now had I not been through the abuse situation with my father. It has changed me in so many ways, I don’t even know how to count them. Through this experience of sharing my story, I have encountered many people, who I would not have had the opportunity to meet had this not have happened. 

(I was obviously not doing too well. 2015)

     While I had a lack of a father, I was raised on the idea that I don’t need a man to survive. My mother and my aunt were always around, and they are two of the strongest women I know in this world. Sometimes, when there are bugs or car trouble, we may buffer out for a moment, but we always figure it out.

     I am a stronger person because of everything that has happened in my life.

     So no, to answer that question, I don’t think I would take anything back for one second. 

     The healing process over the past year hasn’t been easy. There have been bumps and scrapes and stalls, even points where I thought I didn’t want to go on any longer. 

Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell. I had to learn how to fight for myself. And we both know all the truth I could tell. I’ll just say this is I wish you farewell.

      In my original post of You Will Not Win, https://taylorenicholl.com/2016/06/16/you-will-not-win/ this poem was supposed to be included, but at the time I felt too vulnerable to post it. I’d like to share it with you now because I feel it is important.

    Blue collars and

     Strong cologne.

     I skip to the door as you arrive home. 

     And you smile.

     And we laugh.

     And you love me.

     Blue collars and

     Strong cologne

     You say I’m in trouble through the telephone.

     And you’re mad.

     And I cry.

     And you spank me.

     Blue collars and

     Strong cologne

     I stay up crying into my pillow

     And you sleep.

     And I sleep.

     And I still love you.

     Blue collars and

     Strong cologne

      It’s 5 years later and I’m home alone

     And you’re drunk

    And I’m scared

    And I’m lonely.

     Blue collars and

     Strong cologne 

     You’re bringing home girls that I don’t know

    And you kiss

    And I think

    And you don’t know.

     Blue collars and

     Strong cologne 

      You’re in a fit since I was on my cell phone

     And you’re red

     And I’m bleeding

     And I don’t know if you love me.

     Blue collars and

     Strong cologne

     I’m the one drunk and you don’t know.

     And you’re always mad

     And I’m always sad.

     And you don’t care.

     Blue collars and

     Strong cologne

      I’ve gone too many bruises to hold

     And your knuckles

     And my shoulder

    And my heart.

  

     Blue collars and

     Strong cologne

     I’m finally free of your cruel chokehold

     And I finally know

     That the truth was

      You never

       Loved me.

     Child abuse affects more than people tend to realize. It isn’t just physical scars left on you. Scabs heal and bruises fade away, but what we are left with is calluses on our heart and injuries to our brains that stay for a lifetime. 

     I am forever changed, forever healing. As much as I have tried to convince myself otherwise, I will always be healing. There will always be pieces of my puzzle that need to be reinforced, or parts that are missing. I could spend all of this time filled with anger towards my father for the way I am, but I have come to the conclusion that I can’t change it. When I’m scared of men, or I flinch with loud noises, I must be patient with myself.

 (These people are very important to me.❤)

    We can sit around all day and play What If with our lives. What if we chose this path instead? What if it worked out the other way? What if we hadn’t experienced this? 

     At the end of the day, I am me. And even if I wasn’t enough for him, I’m going to be enough for me, no matter what. Anyone else who comes along can either take it or leave it.

I hope you’re somewhere praying, praying.

I hope your soul is changing, changing.

     I refuse to be bitter, I will only be better. I won’t be defined by the demons of my past, despite how dark and twisty they may be. 

Sometimes I pray for you at night.

Some day maybe you’ll see the light.

Some say you’re gonna get what you give…

     I won’t spend my time on earth hating what used to be. 

    The past year since I published You Will Not Win has been an eye opener for sure. I have too many people to thank to put in this blog, so if you’re reading this and you need to be thanked, thank you ❤

     It’s been 2 years since I left my dad’s house, and it is only now that I am starting to feel truly free. 

     

    …but some things only God can forgive.


     Until next time,
     Tay❤
This song means everything to me:

Praying by Kesha

https://youtu.be/v-Dur3uXXCQ

Things Have Changed For Me, and That’s Okay

“Things are shaping up to be pretty odd.”
     I gotta tell you guys, life is strange. I’m in situations I would have never dreamed of being in with people I never thought I would be close with. You never expect life to happen and then it does. How exactly do you prepare for that?

     Answer is, you don’t. You can’t prepare for curveballs in life. And in complete honesty, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Life turns around and says “Well, what about this instead?” to you, and you just have to run with it. It’s not a bad thing at all, just totally unexpected.

     I’ve recently found that being terrified and running away from situations out of my comfort zone doesn’t benefit me in any way, whatsoever. What kind of life do you lead if you’re always running?

       I’m not the type of girl who takes risks without first delving into both pros and cons seriously. I sit in the depths of my blankets and write out every possible negative and positive outcome in my journal and assess what damage may come to me and the people around me. I’m used to routine and having the “same” all of the time. It’s safe that way, I’ve always thought. No one can get hurt that way. 

     While being prepared is an extreme asset to have in jobs and school, sometimes you don’t always need to use it in life. Take the road less traveled, or do something without 100% preparing for it. 

     I’m not prepared when people who promised to stick by my side forever suddenly disappear. It’s out of my norm. They were supposed to stay. It was routine for them to be there, and now they’re not. In that situation, it’s hard for me to come to acceptance of what is and embrace my change. 

     Change is difficult, no matter what the circumstances are. It’s scary, and exhilirating. Change is a ball of feeling alive and fearing the unknown wrapped up into one. But here’s the plus side.

     Change is okay.

      If you’re struggling with change, here is my advice to you. Embrace it as whole-heartedly as you can, even if you are scared. At the end of the day, try to have your love and excitement for life and everything it has to offer trump your fear for the unknown. Personally, I go into every opportunity with the mindset that everything will work out the way it is supposed to.

     Life is extremely short. Try your best not to waste what precious time we are given being afraid of change. What would happen if we all held ourselves back because we were scared?

  • We would stay in our beds because we would be afraid to walk in fear of breaking our leg on something.
  • We wouldn’t leave our houses in fear of catching an illness outside.
  • We wouldn’t get in a car in fear of being involved in a car accident.

     Things are constantly changing, and listen up: it is okay. My life, your life, your neighbor’s life. Embrace it. 

      Life is so good, and it’s going to be greater.
Until next time,
Tay❤
PS::

     Here is a tweet from June 20, 2016. I tweeted “I’ve lost all feelings. Numb af” And exactly one year later, I quoted the tweet and said “It’s been a year and things are looking up for me. It gets better.” I just wanted to share that with you in hopes that you’ll see that really, they do. They do get better.

DJ Strong

     “How do you smile, when you don’t want to? How do you laugh when it’s easy to cry?” 

     I would like to share with you, a story that has completely touched my heart and soul, as I’m sure it has others as well. 

     Diweni Jituboh is a 15 year old girl who is inspiring in the most incredible ways. She’s beautiful and witty, and so beyond her years in intelligence. 

     I first heard about Diweni as I drove through town one night and saw all of these blue signs everywhere outside of the high school. I didn’t pay any attention to it until one night I saw all of my coworkers posting on Snapchat pictures in these blue and pink T-shirts. 

     What was going on? What big event had I missed that A.) We were allowed to wear something other than sweaty, black, uniforms, and B.) I wasn’t informed of.

      When my brother and mother arrived home that night, they were grinning ear to ear in their matching shirts, and I bombarded them with questions.

     My brother said that as he was walking into work that night, a woman in an SUV handed him a shirt and a bracelet and said “Put this on.” He was a little thrown off he said, as I would be too if a stranger threw me a shirt in the parking lot of my work. When he walked into the restaurant, he noticed that all of our coworkers were wearing the same, matching shirts. 

     He said that a girl who had “some big surgery” came into Cotton Patch to eat tonight, and it had been an amazing evening for everyone. 

(Picture taken from her CaringBridge)

     I’m not going to lie. I was angry that I missed it, and that I didn’t get to be apart of it and wear the cool shirts. Fortunately for me, my brother said I could have his shirt. But I had a question ringing in the back of my head as to who this girl was.

     I spent the next hours looking up the hashtags, #PRAYFORDIWENI and #DJStrong on every social media platform I own, and what I found changed my perspective on so many things about life and beauty and appreciation for the little things.

There’s a girl who grew up playing soccer. She could put David Beckham to shame. She’d like to win, but she’d rather inspire. She plays for the love of the game.

     Diweni lives, playing soccer. This game is her lifeline, and I understand what something like that means to a person. And she wasn’t just any old soccer player, this girl was good. One night during a game, Diweni sustained an injury with another player in her knee. She shook it off and finished the game, despite the throbbing in her knee. She went home, she iced it. No big deal. It would go away, right? Well, it didn’t. It didn’t go away. Diweni was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma. That’s a lot to take in as a 14 year old girl. 

(Picture taken from her CaringBridge)

     Even with all of the bad news in her life so far, Diweni still maintains her happy persona and strives to smile. I give her mega props, because I know I would be an absolute wreck. I could never handle anything even remotely similar to this. 

 (Picture taken from her CaringBridge)

     Today, Diweni’s life will change, yet again, as she goes in to have a surgery that will remove her tumor from her knee and replace it. I write this blog in hopes that you will hear this young woman’s strong story, and keep her in your thoughts throughout your day today in the midst of what ever it is that you may be doing.

You’ve been through a lot, but there’s a fire you’ve got inside.

     You may not believe in religion or prayer, and that’s okay. Please just send her and her loved ones well wishes and positive vibes, as well as the doctors that will be surrounding her during the operation. 

     Dallas Children’s Hospital is one incredible place, I know in my heart that you are in good hands.

(Pictures taken from her CaringBridge)

      As for you, Diweni, if you happen to be reading this, I do hope you know that your story touched my heart and made me sit back and think about the things I tend to take for granted in my everyday life. Here I was, mad at the fact that I didn’t get a T-shirt, when I didn’t even stop to think what the cause was even about. I think you’re incredibly strong, and all together beautiful. This isn’t what your typical freshman year of high school is like. But hopefully your years will become easier and you will be allowed to enjoy the rest of your time as a teenager without having to worry about cancer. 

     I’d like to take the time to dedicate this song to you, and hope that you find time to hear it before your operation today. You truly are a force to be reckoned with. 

https://youtu.be/bMIYCofzhF0

I know you won’t ever stop, you’ll do more than walk, you’ll fly.

     Stay strong! Keep fighting!!
Until next time,
Tay❤
P.S. Here is the link to Diweni’s GoFundMe, if you are able to donate to her cause. If not, I encourage you to please share her story and her smile to your friends and family. She needs your thoughts. 

https://www.gofundme.com/no-one-fights-alone-djstrong 

(Screenshot of Diweni’s Twitter account)

Escaping on The World’s Longest Lazy River?!

Bucket List

       The past few weeks of my life have not been a breeze, I can tell you that much. Stress has been a key factor in my daily life, as well as with my family. We have been so overtaken with weight on our shoulders from life and the way it works sometimes. We really needed a get away, a time where we could just relax.

     This week was Amber’s 15th birthday, and as a surprise, we decided to take her to do something a little more adventurous than your typical dinner and dessert. Who needs 15 servers clapping simultaneously as your cheeks flush with embarrassment when you can spend all day floating in the sun on the world’s longest lazy river? 

     We really ended up killing two birds with one stone, as it was a present for Amber and a time for us all to unwind and just be at peace for a while, even if it was for a few hours.

     In the midst of June in Texas, it is a blazing sauna anywhere you go outdoors. What better way to combat those high temperatures than to spend it all day at a water park? What better way to escape your issues for a few hours than to float away from them, really?

     The night before Amber’s birthday, we finally revealed where we were taking her, and what our plan was for the day. 

     BSR Cable Park is located in the far back roads of Waco, Texas. We first found out about it after seeing one of our friends on Facebook share a post about it. My mom had been dying to go ever since. If you ever have the opportunity to go, I suggest you try it out, because it’s worth the drive. The location is definitely something that threw us off. Through our last few turns before the GPS dropped us off, we went down some sketchy looking back roads. Our initial thoughts were “Great, this place is going to be some POS dump people use to trap naive kids who jump at Facebook posts.” But it was the exact opposite!

     It is a large, gated, community in the back. Once you enter the gates, you can very well see how lovely it all looks. We had planned to do everything that day, including their renowned Royal Flush slide. 

 (Taken from bsrcablepark.com)

     Upon our arrival to the park, however, we came to realize that there was a little mix up in the prices stated on the website and the prices stated in front of our eyes. You pay for each thing you wish to do, but you only have to pay once. Once you pay for one thing, you get a bracelet that shows you can ride the Royal Flush or chill in the lazy river, etc., as much as you please. Because of the off prices from what our knowledge was, we did not have enough money to do both. It was kind of a bummer, but we all decided we would float the lazy river and just make the best of what we had. Besides, we were already there, two hours away. 

     Now, this lazy river was sort of amazing in my book. The first time we went through, it took us a whole hour to make it back to the starting point. Which, actually made me pretty anxious towards the middle of the river because I don’t like not knowing where I am, or how long I’ll be there for.  However, it was gorgeous and had such a clean aura.

     After floating for an hour, we got hungry. We didn’t want to leave the river though. Fortunately for us, at BSR they have these nifty devices you can bring along in the water with you. They have cooler floats! That’s right, a float for your cooler. It has handles on the sides, so while you’re relaxing in your tube, you can just hold on to it.

     We didn’t have a cooler, so we put all of our snacks and drinks into Andrew’s duffle bag and plopped it into the cooler float. Bam. Problem solved. We no longer were withering away. Andrew also decided to bring his Bluetooth speaker with him in the cooler float, so we had our jams as well.

     Just to lay in the float and relax, I felt the weight of the world roll off my shoulders for a moment. I didn’t have to think about anything other than being there with my family and enjoying my day, so that was really nice for a change. If I could take a day and go float the river every week, I think my stress would be better maintained.

     We ended up going around the lazy river 3 times, and then walking over to the pool they have around the Royal Flush. We were all exhausted at this point from the sun and the water. Our original plan was to stay in the park from when we got there at 1, to when the park closed at 7. But at 5:30, we were burned and wanted to go home and shower off the lake water.

     We don’t get many family days, or even days where we do out-of-routine things in general. It was so nice. Of course our problems were still there waiting for us when we got home, and they still lingered in the air as we enjoyed our day at BSR. 

     Sometimes you just have to get away. So go. It doesn’t have to be far. We only went 2 hours. You could go hiking 30 minutes from your driveway, or you could go on a summer road trip 18 hours away. If you’re overwhelmed and can’t seem to catch a break in life, go. Make a break for yourself that you deserve. We all need an escape sometimes. 

     Go.
Until next time,

Tay❤

The One Where We Stop a Child Predator

**Public disclaimer: these decisions I made were based solely on allegations I had seen reported on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, and are written as to express the opinions of myself and my brother, not Royse City or anyone else associated with the premises of it. I feel as though my decisions were what were right, in case anything were to happen. This is just my truth, and my truth only. Things may be different to others. Enjoy.**

      You never think that it will happen to your town. Someone says “child predator” and everyone thinks movies and documentaries, never real life situations involving you or anyone you know. This past week, I felt as if I was living in a Criminal Minds episode. Where’s Spencer Reid when you really need him? 

     Royse City, Texas is an extremely small town where the most criminal thing to ever happen was a murder-suicide a while back. We aren’t very crime driven, but since we are so small, it is easy to know a newcomer when they appear. This past week, a strange vehicle was spotted and instantly talked about in a public group on Facebook after he was found in a kid’s park trying to lure children to his vehicle with stuffed animals he had lined in the inside of his car.

      My brother and I are apart of this Facebook group and instantly took notice of it. We were freaked out that it would, first of all, happen in our town, and second of all happen at all. The man was seen at our local Splash Pad water park, where dozens of kids play at everyday. It’s creepy. It sends shivers down my spine.

(The original posts we saw)


     A few days after this initial post was made, we had some running around to do. My brother, our friend Alexa, and I were caught in some traffic on the road that leads right by the Splash Pad. He had just made a remark about how relaxing the water looked trickling down on all of the kid’s backs. I look up and see the truck sitting there in the back of the parking lot almost instantly.

     “Oh my gosh…” I gasp. “That’s that truck, Andrew. That creep who lures kids with stuffed animals, that’s his truck is it not?”

      Andrew and Alexa proceed to squint to the distant Splash Pad. Neither of them can tell at this point, and traffic has us bumper-to-bumper at about 2 miles an hour. In the midst of their confusion and the slow traffic, I find the time to pull up the Facebook post and compare trucks. By the time I do, we have made it to the entrance, and Andrew and Alexa gasp in unison. Without hesitation, he slams on the breaks and whips in to the parking lot. 

     Sure enough, it is him. The truck. The license plate. He’s there, and in the flesh, just parked at the back of the parking lot. My heart starts racing and I feel sick. Sick in a way you never, ever want to feel.  

     He isn’t alone, however. There is a woman parked next to him, and she is sitting with him in his car.

      “Taylore..” Andrew says to me. And before he can even tell me to get out my phone, my camera app is pulled up.

 (Picture taken by me.)

    The woman doesn’t stay long. They talk for a while before she gets out of his truck, and pops her trunk open. And then he climbs out of his truck. And I go numb with fright. Andrew yells at me to take pictures, to take videos of him, but all I can do is just sit and watch him. 

     He is scary. He walks with a limp. The man opens his tailgate and removes a white trash bag filled with stuffed animals. He wearily walks to the lady’s car and stuffs the bag into her trunk, and goes to walk away, holding on to his back as he does. Before she closes it, he turns and snatches a teddy bear that is sticking out of the top of the bag and holds it like a child missing his mother. He grins. The man grins. 

     The woman drives away and the man climbs back into his truck.

     I want to be sick.

 (Picture taken by me.)

     It is a Tuesday afternoon in June in Texas, AKA it is blazing hot outside. The Splash Pad is swarming with children of all ages and their exhausted parents. That is the first thing I take note of upon my examination of the park itself. I’m too scared to look over at the red truck that sits to my left again.

     The second thing that catches my attention is the children running around on their own in the parking lot. They are in their swimsuits. Some of them old. Some of them as young as diaper ages. They are no adults within at least 20 yards from them. They keep running in between cars and disappearing from my sight, forcing my heart into my stomach every time that they do.  I find the courage to look at the man again and I look just in time to watch as he is lowering his passenger seat down to watch the children run around.

     “He’s watching them. Oh my god, he’s watching them.” Andrew says over and over again with his own choice of swears each time inserted wherever he likes. 

     I’m rocking back and forth with my head between my knees, trying to calm myself down enough to make an executive decision. “I know. I know. Just stop telling me that, okay? What should we do?”

     “I don’t know, take a baseball bat to his car?”

     We all know Andrew is smarter than that. 

     I sit up and breathe. “Like the post said, everyone has called the police hundreds of times. If we call, they will just come and tell us that he isn’t doing anything wrong by just sitting here. But he’s clearly watching them and enjoying his time by doing so.”

     “If he tries to approach one of these kids, you best bet I’m not staying in this car for one second.” Alexa then says.

     We sit in silence for the next few minutes, watching him and watching as the kids run around. I imagine if I were a parent sitting on one of the benches, watching their kid playing, not having a single clue that there was a child perpetrator just yards away from me, enjoying watching and seeing my child in their bathing suit. Thinking of the innocence in their minds absolutely killed me.

     “If I were one of those parents I would want to know. I would want someone to tell me.” I say.  “None of them have any idea that he is just sitting there.”

     “So what should we do?” 

     I unbuckle my seatbelt. “We have to go tell them. We can’t just have them sit there not knowing.” 

     “Okay, but you’re doing all of the talking, Miss I Have a Solution for Everything.” Andrew says, his eye still on the man.

     Within seconds, the three of us are out of the car and walking towards the Splash Pad. I feel his eyes burning on us as we do and I wonder if he knows that we know. We can’t decide who to start talking to, or how to start. I decide to pull up the Facebook post to make my life a lot easier., I approach a friendly looking woman sitting on one of the benches. 

     “Excuse me, ma’am. Do you have children playing here right now?” 

     She looks up at me and smiles. “Yes, I do.”

     I sit down next to her and explain the Facebook post and the suspicions on the man in the red truck sitting in the back of the parking lot as we speak. She gasps and looks for her child. When she finds her, she thanks me dearly and explains that she is actually the wife of the high school principal and that she comes here with her kids a lot. She says thank you about five more times and we walk to the next family.

     The sickening feeling started to go away with more people I reached out to. I talked to at least ten parents that day, each of them so relieved to know about it. Some of them left the park immediately. Here is the scariest part of it all:

     None of them knew.

     I no longer felt responsible for anything there at the park that day. If I had logged onto Facebook that night and seen a child had been abducted, I could never live with myself.

      As we are walking to our car, the man is watching us this time instead of the prancing little kids. I feel all of the hairs on my skin stand up and do a shake. Andrew can’t unlock the car fast enough it seems.  

     The man drives off, and before I know it, Andrew is following him. I’m shouting at him to stop, but he says he wants to make sure he never goes back to that park ever again. He follows him at a distance, but close enough to make sure he doesn’t decide to turn around and go back just because we are gone. The man goes to Denny’s and parks there.

     He hasn’t returned to the Splash Pad since.
     This whole situation could have turned out extremely different in multiple ways. I don’t encourage anyone to ever approach someone you think could be a child predator, or any predator at all for that matter. 

       On the other hand, if you feel in your gut that you need to do something about a situation that could possibly turn out badly, listen to what that feeling says. You feel it for a reason. 

       No offense to Andrew or Alexa, but I definitely would have preferred to work on this case with Spencer Reid instead. 

     Call me Detective Tay, I guess!
Until next time,

(Detective)Tay❤