“Great, tell the entire beach his name!” he says, throwing his hands in the air. Carlo works in law enforcement, has seen some scary stuff regarding children and is VERY protective of JD, as am I, so much that he is never out of my eye sight. I am not a helicopter mom—but I am an aware one.
Did I let JD play on the play structure on the beach without standing over him this summer? You bet, but I turned my chair in its direction and watched him the entire time. Did I let him fill his bucket with water and not parade after him? Yes, but I stood up and watched him walk to and from the water.
Since Carlo doesn’t want me to call him by his name in public, I often joke, “OK, come here, Al Pachino, let me wipe your face.” But, recently something happened and it freaked me out and I started to think about Carlo’s point: JD and I were having pizza at our usual Friday night spot. A young couple walked in. (I think they were high, which might make this story make some sense.)
They were probably early 20’s. They sat near us and started laughing at JD’s 400 questions to me. Instead of addressing me, the girl addressed my child. “Yooooo, so you’re gonna be a superhero for Halloween?” she said. “Who’s your favorite?” JD engaged her. The guy turned around and started talking to him and again, not me. It really gave me an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Usually, I’m involved in conversations. They asked him his name. He told them. Great!
I told him to turn around. They didn’t stop with the Qs. They wanted his age. “Eat your food,” I said to JD. “Guys,” I said smiling, “I need him to eat, sorry.” I thought that would end it. I thought I shut it down.
Two minutes later, they asked his age AGAIN. Before I could control him, he yelled “5! I just turned 5!!!” They wanted his school and he went to tell them, but I shut it DOWN. “Please stop asking my child questions. Where he attends school is none of your business. I don’t mean to be rude.”
They gave me a look like I was insane and maybe I was acting … insane, or I just wasn’t high and on their level. But total strangers now knew my kid’s full name, including middle, his age, that he is being Spiderman for Halloween—now they wanted his school. What was next? Our home address?
I waited until they left. I didn’t want them seeing our car or license plate #. The guys at the pizza place know us and to cut JD’s slice in half when I order. “You OK? That was weird!” pizza man said.
They were probably just being nice, but I got that “not right feeling.” I trust that “not right feeling.” I don’t get it that often. When I do … it’s on.
On the way home we discussed strangers:
- Never talk to strangers
- If a stranger ever comes near you, run and scream, HELP
- Tell me, your family or teachers if a stranger ever comes near you
- Never trust a stranger—even if they have a ninja toy or ice cream
- And remember, I am the secret keeper. You can tell me anything and I will always help you and be on your side.
- Strangers are bad, unless mommy says they are OK to talk to.
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