So if you a person who gets on Facebook at any point in your day I'm sure at this point you've seen the video where the guy walks up to the woman in the park as ask if he can approach her child as part of a social experiment and then he proves to her that her kid would come to him when offered looking at a puppy. The first thing that came to mind when I watched this was of course the kid went with the guy, he is the child of a mother who would let some random stranger talk to her child after just saying, "Hey I'm doing a social experiment." "Hey guy, I have an answer for you, heck no." I don't see any paperwork, I don't know you, I can't be the only person who feels this way right? Anyway I think I saw that video last week and felt totally judgmental about it, which just makes what happened Monday just even more ridiculous.
So Monday evening I'm sitting out on the driveway watching Cheetah ride her bike. Dr. J comes out and our oldest daughter starts complaining that I only let her ride her bike in our culdesac and the next one down and she wants to go to the park. The park is probably only 10 or so houses away but it is a couple streets and the idea of my kids there alone makes me nervous. Not so much that they will get kidnapped but there are often older kids playing basketball or making out and I worry someone might take their bikes, or they might see some kids going at it, or they could just get hurt, or whatever. So right now I'm not entirely comfortable with my eight year old going down there to play alone, but we were outside and my husband is the opposite of a hoover parent and he told her it was fine. While I was turning to shoot him a death stare the girl took off. To say the least I wasn't happy so Captain E took off after her and then after looking at my face for about five seconds my husband went over there to keep an eye on them. So that just left me and the Littles at home. I wanted to start dinner so I brought Cheetah inside but Peach (almost six) was playing on our driveway so I left her outside with our garage door open. I kept coming out and checking on her every few minutes and then like the third time I came out I could see her.
I called and called and called and all the sudden she pops out of a car in our four houses down neighbor's driveway. It was the car of the daughter-in-law of our neighbor but we don't know her at all and when I saw that my heart jumped into my throat. I calmly called her again and brought her into the house. I was not happy but I was trying to keep it together until her dad got home. When he walked in the door I explained the situation and we decided that another family council on stranger danger was needed. So while eating dinner we started in about the danger of strangers.
Here are some things we learned from our daughter.
1) Bunnies trump apparently everything. The lady had a baby bunny in her hand and Peach thought that was a great reason to get in the car.
2) Other kids normalize situations..."But her son was in the car, why couldn't I be?"
3) My daughter doesn't think people she's meet are strangers. If you've ever read the Child Whisperer Peach is a Fun-loving Type 1 child to a T. Everyone is her friend. We were in the grocery store last week and she hugged a little girl in the other self check out aisle before we left. I asked, "Do you guys know each other from school?" "No," she said, "We are just new friends." And that is how my daughter goes through life. Our move is just an opportunity for her to expand her friendship circle, if we go to a party she knows no one at these people are all going to be friend with her, she believes that everyone will like her immediately and for the most part she's right. She is very pleasant and is very outgoing. The problem is though she thinks if she has walked up and said hello to you and you have exchanged names you are now best buds because everyone is her best bud.
So that is kind of what we were working with here. We went over again that we do not go with strangers. We went over again that strangers are people that your family doesn't know. We went over the fact that we never ever get into a car or follow after a person (even if it is someone we know because it became obvious to us that Peach's definition of stranger was just not going to change) unless we had talked to mom or dad and they had okay-ed the move, even if they had a puppy, even if they were asking for help, even if they had a baby bunny. We went over the fact that we don't take candy or food from people unless we've talked to our parents first.
And this is when G Bear asked, "Why can't we go with strangers?"
"Well they could be trying to kidnap or hurt you?"
"Why would they do that?"
"Well sometimes people want to hurt kids?"
"Hurt kids how? Break their bones? What? What will they do?"
J and I give each other a look. We've had conversations about abuse with our kids before. I don't want to get too personal here but in my family growing up we learned the hard way that you can't always trust the people who should be taking care of you so we've made sure that our kids understand about good touch/bad touch, about what is their private parts, about who is allowed to touch them (themselves, the doctor when mom or dad are in the room, when they are little mom or dad real quick during bath time but when they are older this "honor" returns to just them.) We've explained to them that no adult or child, family member, friend, stranger has the right to touch those parts and that if someone does or tries to that they need to tell us as soon as they can even if that person has tried to turn it into a secret or made a threat because people touching a child's private parts is not OK and that person "needs our help" so that they will stop. What I really want to say is that that person needs a kick in the balls by my foot but we read somewhere that sometimes when an abuser is family or a family friend kids will feel guilty about turning them in so we've tried to keep it a more neutral thing than your mom will rip the skin off their face.
So we've talked about this before but these are hard concepts to grasp when you are a child, when you don't have a basic understanding about sexuality, what is normal, what is not, what is legal, what is not, what is moral, what is not. Talking to children about sexuality is a balancing act I think that even with four kids I just don't feel like I've completely mastered yet. Lord help me as we enter the teenage years and please help Peach remember to ask mom before jumping into people's cars...especially one's her mother considers a stranger.