Well hello there awesome Moxie-Dude reader!
While I was writing yesterday’s post about strangers and the power of believing in something (even if those beliefs are *cough* stupid), I got to thinking about some of the “beliefs” we take for granted – like the belief that our children automatically understand what the hell we’re talking about when we tell them something important.
I believe the correct word for this is “assume”. And even though I use this word sparingly ever since an old boss of mine enlightened me about the whole “making an ass out of you and me” elucidation, I think it’s safe to use it when you’re talking about your kids.
Just as my mother bequeathed me with the words of advice about “not talking to strangers”, years (read: YEARS) later I remember giving my own children the same sound advice. This is because at some point in our lives we all turn into our parents. This is also because strangers can be “bad people”.
The day I told my kids to “not talk to strangers” – the first time
It’s after supper on a sunny, summer day and I’m with my daughters, Melissa (6-ish) and Stephanie (3-ish), and we’re doing what we always do after supper: going for a walk. The three of us even had a song that we made up called “the trio song” because back then we were ALWAYS together. *Nostalgic sigh*
On this particular day a lady driving by in her car stops to ask for directions. Naturally, I take my girls’ hands as we take a step back on the sidewalk and I tell her to make a right at the next corner and then a left and then another left. (I’m not sure why I remember that. I don’t even remember what I had for supper last night.)
As she drives away I think, “this is a good time to have the talk.”
“So girls. You know that you NEVER talk to strangers, right?”
To which I received wide-eyed nods of understanding and we continue on our walk.
Fast-forward about 3 months later: The day I told my kids to “not talk to strangers” – the second time
Halloween is around the corner and the girls and I are on the city bus. We’re standing because it’s rush hour and naturally the bus is over-capacitated. I’m holding onto the bar and my girls are holding onto me and we’re standing in front of an older woman dressed in black. I think she’s a widow. My girls think she’s a witch.
Suddenly the widow-witch reaches into her purse and pulls out a baggie filled with chocolate chip cookies. She holds out the bag and offers them to my kids. Mesmerized by the site of, well, COOKIES, my girls begin to reach into the bag.
“No thank you,” I say as I gently yet STERNLY deflect my girls’ little hands.
My girls didn’t say anything because by then I had developed my father’s hairy-eyeball glare but when we got off the bus I was bombarded with questions.
“Remember when I told you that you should never talk to strangers? Well that includes taking cookies from strangers too. YOU NEVER TAKE ANYTHING FROM A STRANGER,” I say as though this is the most important thing I will ever tell them. Even more important than brushing their teeth.
And that’s when my eldest, Melissa, taught me the real meaning of the word “assume”.
“But mommy, I don’t know what a stranger IS.”
I like the ending – mostly because throughout the post I was thinking “kids say yes, but they don’t actually understand what a stranger is – or who they can be”.
I don’t remember this memory, but I do remember the time that I actually understood the definition of a “stranger”. I was young, with Stephanie and our father on the subway when a widow-witch and her widow-witch friend offered to share their chocolate with us. We looked at Dad, he smiled and said “go ahead girls” and we ate the chocolate.
Fast forward a few hours later and we’re home with you telling you the story of the nice little old widow-witch ladies who shared their chocolate with us on the subway, when all of a sudden you’re upset (mostly with Dad) and you re-explain how we aren’t ever to take anything from strangers. Click. Oh!!! THAT’s what a stranger is!!! ;o)