Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Strangers and Bad Guys"

(no pregnancy news - he's still content in my belly)

On Friday evening we headed out to the mall and a bookstore. Daughter is a friendly type - always saying hi and waving to people. She talks to every store clerk and anyone that says Hi to her. Before five minutes are up, they know her full name (first, middle and last), that I have a baby in my stomach (just in case they missed the huge belly) and that he is a boy.

I love her infectious, happy attitude. When we went to the baby store Friday, one clerk remembered her from our last trip. She remarked to me just how happy Daughter is and how it made her evening to see a happy child. She told us "see you later" and Daughter said, "Yep see you next trip."

I don't want to curtail my daughter's enthusiasm. However, I am cognizant that she is giving away quite a bit of information. In the amount of time it takes me to pay, she has given someone her name, address, phone number, my name, Husband's name and our dog's name. They know we are having a baby boy and what his name will be.

Friday night at the mall we passed a bookstore. Husband wanted to browse the magazines. So I took Daughter to the childrens' section and we read the Berenstain Bears book about strangers. We talked about the book and about our Rules --- Do not talk to Strangers, Do not take things from Strangers, Do not go anywhere with Strangers. Then we talked about who were Strangers. For instance, check out clerks are fine to talk with if a grown-up is with you. The book also had a section in the back about other rules - rules about private areas and bad touch/good touch. So we touched on that issue too. I kept that conversation pretty brief - we've had that talk before and I didn't want to overwhelm her. (for a good blog post on this subject and a book recommendation see Perfect's post here - I just ordered it).

We had an opportunity yesterday to practice our Rules. I took Daughter grocery shopping. She was sitting in the cart. As I turned to the side to pick up some fruit, I heard an elderly gentleman talk to my daughter. She chatted back. He handed her a quarter and told her to save it for a rainy day. I told Daughter to say Thank You. Then we talked about why it was okay for her to take it (because I was there and said she could). That if it had been food, how we would not have eaten it. We talked about what she would have done if he had asked her to walk down the next aisle to get a treat (yell "NO" and "You are not my Mommy" and run to find me).

I'm saddened that I have to restrict Daughter's gregarious outgoing personality even a little. But I do feel better having had this conversation. I'm also glad to see that her daycare is teaching her fire prevention, how to call 911, address and phone numbers, and other valuable information. By making these conversations fairly routine and not overwhelming she is learning a lot.

This morning, Daughter came into our bedroom and crawled in for morning snuggles (my favorite time of the day). Out of the blue she asked, "When is Grandma's husband coming to visit?" I'm not at all sure where this came from. I took a deep breath and told her that we didn't let him visit. She asked "why" and I reminded her of the Stranger book we had read. I explained that he was a "bad guy" and that he had "done bad things." I told her that it was Mommy and Daddy's job to keep her safe from bad people and that we were not going to let him around her. So he would not be visiting. But Grandma could visit and would come after the baby got here.

She didn't have any more questions. At some point she'll ask more, I'm sure. My sister's children (2 - 5 years older) are at the "inappropriate with children" stage. Her oldest has equated that phrase with "like Michael Jackson" - not exactly sure where he got that from, but I suspect it is from school friends.

My mother will be visiting soon - after the baby gets here. I'm curious whether or not Daughter will bring up the "bad guy" Mom is married too. It will sure be interesting.

I can tell I've grown. The conversations with my Daughter made me a bit uneasy - but I suspect that is "normal." They did not, however, send me into a state of panic. I'm not overly anxious about anything my Daughter raises with my mother. I refuse to get embarrassed or ashamed of anything I told Daughter. I refuse to let my mother discount things either. Let her turn red and fumble for words - I will not.

Another piece of evidence about progress - my mother called about an hour after this conversation with my Daughter. I knew she was calling for a "baby update." I didn't want to talk to her. I don't need her lectures about how "you just need to be patient" and "the baby will come when he is ready" and "be sure to call me" and "I am sure the doctor's know what they are doing.....but...." So when the phone rang and I just knew it was her, I told Husband that I was unavailable. He told her I was in the shower and gave her the "status quo" update. Best evidence of progress - I didn't even feel guilty!


dm said...

I love reading posts like this and seeing you grow as a person! (no pun intended) :-)

lawyerchik said...

You did a great job with her, Enola! That was fabulous! Plus, I have to say it: I loved the "like Michael Jackson" comment! Sad, but at least it's a way of explaining so that kids understand, without overwhelming them with information they might not be old enough to process yet.

I still remember the tying in of the "stranger" talk with Patty Hearst's kidnapping..... Yipe.

Keeping my fingers crossed that you have your baby today!!

Anonymous said...

Oy... you did well with all this.

I remember my mother telling me about strangers, going so far as to warn me that they might tie me to a tree with my shoelaces... did she really need such details? And they didn't really help me get the right message, either.

I hate every little thing that requires us to let our children know that there is evil in the world, evil they don't even guess at yet.

Tamara said...

Oh, (((((Enola))))). You did such a wonderful job with your daughter. It is very sad to have to inhibit the enthusiasm and natural friendliness of any children but unfortunately it is necessary. You are doing such a beautiful job of teaching her a bit at a time and then reinforcing it in real life. Way to go!

Good for you, too, that you didn't let your mother upset you. You are taking some fantastic steps towards healing.

I get so excited when I read about survivors healing from their childhoods. We all deserve to reach a place where our lives are full of health, happiness and peace.

Many hugs,

Hope that little boy shows up soon!

Perfect said...

Awesome job. I'm glad you found a good book; I know you've been wanting to introduce the strangers talk. Yes, it's sad that sick people in this world make it necessary for us to restrict certain behaviors in our kids. But you are being such a wonderful, loving and protective Mom by doing so.

Come on, baby boy.....I have a package ready to ship off to you & your big sis! Come on out so you can get some presents! :o)

Angel said...

It sounds like a good talk you two had, and isn't it amazing how kids will pick up on things? Your mother's reaction should be interesting, if your d does say something to her/in front of her.

She sounds like such a happy, open child. You're doing a great job with her.

Baby boy needs to be getting antsy. Wouldn't he like to be out so he can have more room to play? I love babies, it's the beginning of such precious times. You are so blessed!

keepers said...

Dear Enola

not feeling guilty, amazing and wonderful! we are very proud of you for not feeling guilty.You are getting stronger all the time.

peace and blessings


p.s. hope the little fella makes his entry to our world soon!