Thursday, April 9, 2009

Stranger Danger and Sarcasm

We had a bit of a plumbing problem this morning, so the kids and I were trapped downstairs all morning (and well into the afternoon) while the plumber replaced some pipes in the kitchen.

When he finally finished up at close to 3pm, we were all going stir-crazy. Since it's a beautiful day, I headed to the local park with the kids. (It's nice to finally get some nice weather; it was in the 30's and snowing just a couple days ago. I grumbled about it and my son informed me "Nature's rhythms can be very unpredictable, Mommy.")

The first thing you should know about my kids is: they are NOT shy. In fact, they are incredibly forward. Something I worry about constantly as I try to instill the concept of 'stranger danger' without completely killing their joy in life and other people. So before I've even got Oksana out of her car seat, Drake is on the playground, running up to everyone and telling them "that's my Mommy, Kristi Dorson, and my sister, Oksana Dorson; I'm Drake Owen Dorson. The plumber was at our house ALL MORNING so we're here to play at the park." Don't forget to give them our address, my social, and my mother's maiden name while you're at it, Drake.

Then he runs up to me and tells me "I just told all those people hello and that the plumber was over today. Don't worry, they're all nice." I remind him that you can't TELL if people are nice or not and that he's not allowed to talk to strangers unless Mommy or Daddy are with him. "But Mommy, ALL the people at the park ARE nice!" I remind him that you can't assume that people are nice just because they're at the park; that bad people would come to the park if they wanted to hurt kids because there are lots of kids at the park. "But Mommy, I KNOW they were all nice; they all SMILED!" And I remind him that you can't tell if people are nice just because they're smiling at you; bad people will try to trick you into thinking they are nice.

It kills me, KILLS me, to constantly have to tell my kid things like that. It kills me that we live in a world where kids have to be cautious about talking to people at the park. But it kills me more to think of someone doing something to hurt my child.

Of course everyone at the park WAS nice, and he played with some great kids and we had a great time. He also played with his imaginary friends for a while; and I love that he has no issues telling older kids "my imaginary friend Ginny is swinging on this swing, so please don't swing on it". And that my daughter has no issues with bossing those same older kids around; "come and play wit me! this way! no, let's go this way! come ON!" Though I imagine working on having better 'friend' manners is going to be a struggle with that feisty little one.

On the way out of the park, Drake picks something up in the dirt. "A bottle cap! I'm going to bring this home for you, Mommy, because Daddy told me you like to collect them." (I do, under some misguided belief that I will one day create some sort of art or craft with them.) "I'll take it home and wash it off for you." The bottle cap is, naturally, pretty filthy. "Thank you," I say drily.
Drake looks at me suspiciously. "Is that the OPPOSITE of thank you?" Ah, Drake, your first lesson in sarcasm. I soften it up a bit. "No, honey, I really mean 'thank you'".
"OK," he says happily. "Then you're welcome. And I spit on it to help clean it off for you."

Thank you, Drake.

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