You have to be careful about the literal sense in which children take the things you say. Or at least I do. I try not to talk much to little kids I’m not related to. (I was never really hip to strangers trying to talk to my kids.) I may have even stunted their social skills a little by teaching them about “stranger danger” with examples straight from “America’s Most Wanted.”
Our daughter nearly caused an international incident in the Piggly Wiggly when she was three, as I turned my back on her to look for Duke’s mayonnaise. A little old man tried to give her a penny and she screamed “stranger!” so loud, two guys from WRAFB security police ran over, ready to clobber him. In the span of about three seconds, a screaming three-year-old, shocked-as-hell old man, and off-duty base security police all jumbled up in front of the mayonnaise display at the Pig. It was stressful and memories of it cause me to be very cautious about talking to children I’m not fairly well acquainted with.
So of course I broke my own rule, and while nothing as loud or close to violence happened, it reaffirmed my vow of silence to strange children.
George is in Florida this week. I still can’t go to Florida without feeling ill. I may never be able to enjoy Florida again, so I stayed home. This put me alone on Valentine’s Day, which I would whine about but I don’t really care. We’ve been married a long time and he never misses a day telling me he loves me — Valentine’s is kind of redundant in our world.
So for Valentine’s Day, I took myself to Kroger to get dog food and be shocked at how many people go to Kroger on Valentine’s Day. I was attempting to meander around the produce section, but it was so crowded meandering was impeded. I had stopped, and was watching a little girl and her mom look at the dragon fruit. The kid was fascinated with it. She had obviously never seen one, and couldn’t imagine where it came from. Her mom told her it came from far away, and since I knew the next question would be, “How?”, I opened my stupid stranger mouth to give some trucking education.
“They come on a truck, like almost everything in the store. My husband and I have a lot of friends who haul produce, the truckers bring all this stuff.”
Thankfully, the kid didn’t scream stranger! but instead asked, “All of it?”
“Yes. They load at the ports all over, and bring all this neat stuff we can’t grow in Ohio.”
“Even the babies?”
“What? No. They don’t bring babies.”
Why do little kids immediately go to the baby thing? Twice now I’ve had a kid ask me if what truckers brought included babies. It’s weird. I don’t recall wondering where babies came from enough to ask random strangers when I was a kid. It’s also an immediately taboo subject, so I smiled and made a meander path right on out of there before the security police showed up.
Sometimes, educating is hard.