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The Perils of Sociability

September 16th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  6 Comments

180px-Daria_logoOur son’s latest developmental stage involves greeting random people. “Hi!” he says, to us, to store clerks, to ladies on the street. Last night on the way home, reports my wife, he waved and shouted “hi!” to two middle-aged ladies on the steps of a nearby church, and completely flattened them with his cuteness. (As well he should, being that he’s the cutest child on earth.)

I should be delighted by this, and I usually am, particularly when I walk in the front door to a big smiley greeting. Yet it does trigger a faint troubling tickle at the very back of my mind. What he’s doing is, when you get down to it, Talking to Strangers, and I’ve seen more than my share of After-School Specials, so I know that talking to strangers is not good. It’s fine now, when he’s 18 months old and stroller-bound. Soon enough, though, he won’t be, and then I guess we have to start addressing that.

Don’t you wish we didn’t have to mess up a perfectly sweet moment with these dark thoughts? As Daria used to note, it’s a sick sad world out there.


Responses

  1. Chris Rugen says:

    September 16th, 2010at 10:25 am(#)

    I’ve felt the same way. But she always seems to bring smiles to people, so how could it be bad?

    I also don’t want to teach my daughter that every person she meets is dangerous by default. It’s a tough balance. It’s much harder to teach discretion than it is to teach rules.

  2. Perpetua says:

    September 16th, 2010at 1:42 pm(#)

    Oh, us too, with the hellos to nobodies! It makes me really uncomfortable, but I’m trying not to show it. However, I’m having a tough time reconciling the real need to make him a socially normal child with the number of times I’ve seen _I Know My First Name is Steven_.

  3. dadwagon says:

    September 16th, 2010at 1:54 pm(#)

    You guys are nutso, in my professional opinion. There’s a big difference between a friendly toddler and a someone who hops in a van with candy (the latter should be something you can warn the kid against, right?). Enjoy the fact that they are open and trusting. It will change anyhow. Just my two cents as your co-blogger. –Nathan

  4. karen says:

    September 16th, 2010at 4:45 pm(#)

    I’m with the nutso comment. I say hello to random people I meet (that’s how I met Matt, after all) and refuse to live in fear. I also know that kid disappearances etc are rare, usually involve someone your kid is familiar (even slightly) with, and rarely ladies on church steps.

    Listen. I hail from a suburb of Vancouver where a true serial killer OF KIDS was on the loose (North Delta) in the late 70s, early 80s. The kid who sat in front of me in my grade 8 social studies class was one of his victims. (Colleen Daignault, RIP) I will never, ever mention his name, as it gives him too much attention and he looks for that, but I figure I have more right than the average person to be afraid of stranger danger but I am not. Because, unlike the rest of you overthinkers, I understand that the kids that went missing were, with an exception, youth at risk. I also know that we watch WAY TOO MUCH CRIME TV for entertainment purposes and that totally skews our understanding of what dangers really lurk for our children, as opposed to boogie men (or women) who are few, far between, and more often than not related to their victims.

    If more of us said hello to the people we encounter, with a smile, the world would be a better place. Just look at Matt and me. And. Get. Over. It.

  5. karen says:

    September 16th, 2010at 4:47 pm(#)

    Oh. and VOTE, for fucks sake. If not for Justin Bieber, than for the rest of us Canadians who want you guys to keep the flipping loonies at bay. THOSE PEOPLE are way more of a threat to your kids’ welfare than a boogieman/woman/werewolf. Seriously.

  6. Nathan says:

    September 17th, 2010at 10:03 am(#)

    That’s why I love ya, Karen. Brushes with child serial killers (how awful, though, really) do not faze you. And yes, we in the media are largely guilty of hyping the dangers. Though the consumers are just so damn hungry for it…

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