Stranger Danger

One of the grand challenges of parenting is letting go.  As your children sprout, it’s important to let them expand their boundaries, working toward that magical day when they are able to get the fuck out of your basement live independently, without fear or insecurity, in an increasingly complex and magical world.

By the time The Boy was around 10 years old, i had gradually increased his exploration range – first letting him ride his bike in our quiet neighborhood, but later allowing him room to roam further afield, scooting up to the strip malls about a quarter mile down the main drag.  This required him to safely traverse a busy four-lane road.

One lazy Saturday afternoon, he had negotiated an expedition to the strip mall, which included a grocery store, comic book store, several fast food restaurants among other things*.  He’d been gone perhaps a half hour, when i got  a call…

The Boy:  Hey, there are some new Magic cards at the comic book store – can I get an advance on my allowance?

daisyfae:  Sure, but you realize that leaves you short next week if anything comes up?

The Boy:  Whatever.  Would you be willing to bring it up to me?  I’m in front of the grocery store.

daisyfae:  OK.  Not doing much else at the moment**.

Hopped in the car – which at the time was my juicy-sweet little sports car – 225 bhp of asphalt-munching sex-on-wheels.   Spotted him, pulled up to the curb, and opened the passenger side door to hand him the cash.  Being chock-full of mother hormones, i also used the opportunity to nag remind him of the need to be careful crossing the streets, negotiating parking lots and the like.

He listened for a minute or two.  The eyes started rolling.  i kept on with the parental nudge.  Having had enough of my yammering, he deployed a rather brilliant tactic…

The Boy:  [loudly] Stranger!  Bad Touch!  I DON’T KNOW YOU!

daisyfae: ….

very funny, you little shitweasel...

very funny, you little shitweasel...

* We have a theory that EVERY strip mall in the state has at least TWO of the following THREE establishments:  Nail Salon, Tanning Salon, “RipOff” Payday Lender.  Have yet to find an exception to this… Most have all three…

** Besides, it gave me a chance to check up on him, follow him to see where he crossed, etc.  To quote Mr. Reagan: “trust, but verify”.

19 thoughts on “Stranger Danger

  1. brilliant. i wish i was such a shitweasel when i was a boy. i may have gotten more lego and candy out of my parents.

    ** i think your strip mall theory is spot-on.

  2. Sometimes I think the stranger danger thing has gone a bit too far in this country. Last year I was almost brought to tears by a mummy telling her little girl not to talk to me (and then actually moving seats) on a bus – even though the child was actually sitting on her mum’s lap at the time, and we were having a perfectly innocent chat about her doll’s name. Yes, important that children know the risks, but surely a bridge too far in a safe environment with a parent present?

  3. Ha ha. Funny story! Smart (ass) kid, too.

    I went on my first “expedition” when I was about four years old (me and a couple of buddies) and we were oblivious to the fact that we prompted all points bulletins and search parties.

    When we were “found” my dad kicked my ass all the way home. That stuck with me for a while…..

  4. Several years ago, I was a coach for an Odyssey of the Mind team at an elementary school. I was also snaking one of the teachers…that doesn’t have any bearing on the story, I just wanted to brag. I was invited to attend the year end awards assembly. The assembly ended a little early, and they sent all the kids to playground to await the arrival of the buses. My assistant coaches husband came to pick up their kids. Their son wasn’t quite ready to go home. His father went and retreived him. As he picked the little varmint up to carry him away, his son started yelling, “stranger danger!” His mother was mortified, but not a single teacher batted any eye to come to his aid.

  5. alex – yes. my fear is that the little bugger was paying too much attention…

    kyknoord – it stops working after your about 18. then it’s just creepy…

    daveavenue – this is the little guy that was loansharking his sister when he was 5. they are not made, they are born… and i’m pretty sure it was my two kids who came up with the original ‘strip mall theorem’. i may have added the payday lending thing…

    unbearable banishment – bittersweet moments… the entire goal is to get them out in the world, living independently and with a sense of purpose and adventure. but man, does it fuck with our own sense of purpose when we succeed… that’s why i’m taking up expensive and dangerous hobbies.

    cat – absolutely agree with you! in the US, we’ve raised our children to be fearful, suspicious and skittish. as a result, they do not develop REAL filters for genuine danger. how can they develop instincts properly when the media, overprotective parents and liability-conscious schools terrorize them with non-threats? sad story about the child on the bus…

    rob – *snort* we never had to call the cops… but by developing age-appropriate freedom of movement, with some parental oversight and controls, he managed his independence fairly well. and i never really had to kick his ass… for that one, anyway….

    uncle keith – there were people looking at the sports car, curbside door open, 10 year old yelling. i was wondering if i’d get tailed… but in fact, no one did anything. kind of makes you wonder what the hell we terrorize our kids for… oh, feel free to brag. that’s why we loves our uncle keith!

  6. we need to teach our children a bit more about internet safety–I brought my 13yr to tears a few months ago….went to the mall w/ a buddy to meet some girl–turns out neither of them even knew her in real life. Someone who knew someone who knew someone on “myspace” claims to know her. Ripped him a new one and discussed what would have/could have happened if it had been some creepy guy waiting in the mall parking lot for the two of them. of course at first he claimed that his buddy could protect him until I pointed out that even I could take out his friend with one well placed kick..then it’s just a matter of clocking him in the head, throw him in the van and take off with noone the wiser….stupid stupid kid—ripped his father a new one for lack of internet monitoring..and not knowing where his son was.

    sorry its so long–

  7. My parents never had any idea of where we were when we left the house. I remember being four or five and roaming like a free range chicken without so much as a “be careful out there”.

  8. Oh, don’t get me started. Of course, I lived out in the boonies when I was a kid, and had a quarter-mile of land to play on. With snakes and things out there. I would probably be locked up inside today.The only thing we got our asses kicked for was going near the irrigation ditch that ran alongside our house. And yet, I managed to pull at least one sibling out of the water.

    What I hate about today is that a five year old boy can’t hug a five year old girl without a sexual harassment suit.

  9. when I was about 11 I excitedly waited for my mom to get home from work so I could show her my newest after-school activity… a latch-key kid living waaaay outside of town I made my entertainment in the surrounding woods (and neighbors’ neglected back properties).

    much to my mother’s horror, her only child had discovered not just how to climb the indigenous digger pine, but also how to get to the very tippy-top of the narrowing young trunk and then swing it back and forth like I was at the end of a flexible metronome, proudly getting nearly horizontal in my efforts.

    I think the fact that we didn’t have health insurance had a lot to do with the ensuing ban on tree climbing.

    at least in CA, I’ve also noticed that the PayDay LoanSharks are always located next to some sort of public transit stop and/or liquor store…..I’d like to see what the sales figures would be if the loansharks started selling lottery tickets and international calling cards.

  10. hisqueen – children need to be taught how to think rationally, think ahead and do “risk management”. the hard part is working the balance to teach them how to measure/manage risk, while not leaving them in fear of living a life of adventure and joy…

    dolce – totally asking mom for an advance on my inheritance! need to get to my share before the other relatives bleed it dry! *snort*

    annie – amazing that we survived, isn’t it? in the summer it was “Go outside and play” until lunch, sandwiches and kool-aid on the picnic table, then out again til dinner. After dinner? Yep. Until “twilight call”, when the parents would start calling their children in for the night…

    silverstar – agree that we’ve managed to let fear fuck up childhood. a playground kiss can now get an elementary school kid expelled. and to think, it was something to look forward to and dream about when i was 8 or so…

    jenuine – always happy to see you de-lurk! the tree climbing sounds FABULOUS! we had cable-vines over creekbeds that led to several broken bones. i was never athletic enough to do the serious climbing… and i have noticed the ‘payday lender’/’liquor store’ connect in CA. in OH, they just put a cap on interest – keeping it at 28%. Used to be in the 300-350% range for some of those places. Vampires…

  11. Here in Washington, the Payday Loan Sharks do have international calling cards. Or at least the one by the bus stop downtown does. No lottery tickets yet. I think they are trying to get an interest cap passed here, but don’t know so far.

  12. Pingback: Sign language « Trailer Park Refugee

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s