Ahhhh, stranger danger. The kind of conversation every mother eagerly awaits to have with her children. On pins and needles. Really. I never really thought about it much until reading Mama Kat’s funny conversation with her kiddos. Baby Bug is three now, and we do run around a lot, especially in the summertime, so she should be prepared, right? Before you say she’s too young, this kid is incredibly smart. Incredibly friendly. And loves gum. At church, she will ask every mother picking up a child in the nursery if she has gum because her own mommy does not (whoops!). Problem? Maybe not so much, but it would’t hurt her to learn a few things. Heregoesnothing.
I started off by asking her if she knew what a stranger was. She said no, and I explained that a stranger was someone we didn’t know.
A: Do they have guns?
Do they have guns?! Not exactly what I was expecting, but I knew where the question came from. The other day we were listening to Wee Bible Songs in the car and the song, “I’m in the Lord’s Army” was playing. She asked me what artillery was (lyric: “I may never shoot the artillery”) and I told her it had to do with guns, which led to the gun conversation. Fun times. Back to strangers.
I explained to her that while most strangers are not dangerous and do not have guns, there are some that are dangerous and may have guns. I asked her what she would do if we got separated at the park and someone approached her and asked her to come with him; she said she wouldn’t go. We made up a song. “You don’t gooo with people you don’t knooow. You don’t gooo with people you don’t knooow.” It’s catchy. Pick any tune you like :) I said but what if the stranger tells you his or her name and says you’re not strangers anymore? She replied with the song. Good on her.
Child predators are tricky little…uhm…nothing nice to say, so I wont’ say it, but they’re tricky. They will introduce themselves, befriend our children, and take them away. I tried to explain to A, that no matter what, she was not to go with someone unless she had clear permission from mommy or daddy beforehand (I know relatives and friends may need to pick her up one day, etc, but go with me. We’ll add concepts as we go). Even if she knew his or her name. Even if s/he said mommy and daddy said it was ok. We would let her know ahead of time should she need to go with someone else.
I decided a little role playing might illustrate the point better. I pretended to offer her gum (gasp! will she go or will she stay?!) and asked if she wantd to pet the pretty kittens in my car. She wavered. She did. But she firmly finally responded with “I say no I don’t want to pet the kittens cause I don’t go with people I don’t know.” Yes!
She started coming up with her own scenarios like, “If a girl at the aquarium (yes, aquarium) says can I have some trick-or-treats I’m sposed to say noooo.”
A (as the stranger): Do you want to come see my puppy?
Me: No thank you, I don’t go with people I don’t know.
A: But it’s a really cool puppy.
hahaah :) For a three year old, I was pleased with our progress until I asked her why we have to learn this. Her response? “Because strangers have guns and hurts us.” Yikes! I’m not sure yet where I stand on this particular outlook on strangers. I don’t want her to live in fear, but I do very much want her to live aware. So far she’s not traumatize and it hasn’t been brought up again :)
It was good for our first foray into the wild and scary reality of stranger danger.
We’ll keep working.