Stranger Danger is such a tricky thing to teach children. I once received a message from Harbors school that someone was reported lingering around the grounds and it forced me to have the conversation.
Unfortunately Harbor isn’t a great listener and with what seemed like an iminant threat of abduction I went in strong. He ended up crying and now asks if he can talk to people or if they will take him away.
The thing is at some age we stop the stranger danger rules and suddenly have to embrace the nutters and weirdos for the fear of looking impolite. I can’t pinpoint when that is but after yesterday I wish I’d still had the balls to say ‘sorry but my mum says not to talk to strangers’
You see I took the boys blackberry picking early in the morning and there was a man cutting his hedge. He came over and started putting things in the boys baskets. Flowers manly. I know what you’re thinking ‘flowers? Shit Cara why didn’t you run?!’ But my point isn’t that I thought he was a threat, it was being exposed for the child bomb. (Those moments where children have an opinion)
As the man bent down to put flowers in Sonnys basket Sonny said ‘you have a smelly head‘ I am very used to these type of comments and being naturally quick witted I normally can deflect the situation by repeating a sentence that sounds similar without the cruelty. This time I was stumped. The silence that followed was agonising. The man looked to me as if for some reassurance that his head infact didn’t smell. Which obviously didn’t happen because yes my son says stupid things but he’s my tribe and I’ll back him to the death. So if he says your head smells mate then it smells.
We had to leave. I didn’t see anyway to recover and the stranger stayed, lingering. (As strangers do)
I guess that’s the beauty of having children. You pick an innocent activity and they find a way to make it stressful. I much preferred the walk home anyway, they turned their baskets into mini shields and shouted ‘I’m gonna get you Cat Man’ all the way home – Bliss.