One of our jobs as parents is to keep our kids safe. From a very early age we start drilling into them the importance of not talking to strangers. I’ve had conversations that included not to help an adult find their dog or their cat, don’t give directions, in fact, don’t help any adult stranger with anything. If they’re lost they can Google their way home.
One time, when Daughter was about six, we were at the beach club. She wanted to play on the playground down on the sand. I sat at the top of the steps leading to the playground, watching her. She thought she was alone, but believe me happy to be so.
A grandmother and her granddaughter were also there. This Grandma heard me refer to Daughter by name and thought it would be okay to call Daughter over to play with her sweet, little granddaughter. Well, let me tell you what. Six-year old Daughter was having no part of that. My smart little cookie was listening when I spoke. (Oh, how I long for those days!) Daughter took a deep breath and shouted “Stranger!” Right in Grandma’s face.
Grandma was none too happy and made sure she told me, “I was a teacher for 35 years and a member of this beach club for just as long.” (You could tell from the leathery skin. Just saying.) “I love children. I’d never hurt them.”
My reply: “The six-year old doesn’t know that.”
So, if my then six-year old could learn the lesson of Don’t Talk to Strangers how come my 87 year-old grandmother can’t? Let me set the stage. My grandmother lives with my mother. We’re Italian. Living with your parents is one of the crazy things my people do.
The other day Mom was standing in the kitchen on the phone. In walks Nan, all four feet nine of her sporting her mini-skirt and tights, with a very large, very young male stranger. And no, Nan is not dating again.
Needless to say, Mom’s reaction was, “Who are you? And what are you doing in my house?” I’m sure she didn’t know if she should hang up the phone and call the police or get out the wooden spoon to hit my grandmother with.
Nan, groceries in hand and smirk on her face, marched up to her apartment with her stranger in tow. Apparently, Nan needed a little help at the grocery store and had recruited this gentleman to help her bring her groceries home.
Thankfully, this story won’t end up on an episode of Criminal Minds. More like an episode for the criminally insane, though no crime was committed. We think.
Ends up, the guy wasn’t a total stranger. He was the son of some woman my grandmother is friends with. None of us has met this woman so she could be an imaginary friend, but let’s hope not.
The moral of the story is this: Don’t Talk to Strangers whether they are a wrinkly retired teacher on a playground or a young man in a grocery store. Imaginary people, well they’re probably safe enough. We think.