I thought it necessary to finally sit down and have THE TALK with Ava. She's wise beyond her three years so I thought it appropriate to put it all out there. So, I sat her down today, armed with a book and my own maternal knowledge and decided to finally have THE TALK... not that one (get your head out of the gutter)... the STRANGER DANGER talk.
I should preface this story by saying that nothing scares me more than losing one of my children. I've reported on enough child abductions in my years in the news business to be scared for the rest of my life. That's not to say my children live in a bubble. However, I'll be the first to admit I'm a little extra-cautious.
Ava is a very friendly little girl, constantly greeting and waving at just about anyone. She's quick to tell complete strangers about her age, what she liked to eat for dinner, how to spell her baby brother's name... you name it. It's sweet and, I'm sure, most everyone she shares random information with has no interest in stealing her... but, you can never be too sure. So, I thought now was an appropriate time to talk to her about strangers.
I checked out the Berenstain Bears Stranger Book from the library, we read it, we discussed it. "Mommy, I only talk to a stranger if you're talking to them. But I never talk to a stranger by myself. And I don't eat a stranger's candy, even if it's a gummy worm. And I don't go anywhere with a stranger." It seemed to sink in.
But then, as we waited in line at Babies R Us she left my side and stood right next to the woman who was checking out and began telling her about the "Tinkerbell" movie (which was at the register). Initially, I thought, "I can see her, no biggie." But then I thought better of it and decided that if I was going to get my point across about strangers, I needed to nip it in the bud. I called her back over, told her I knew she was being friendly and that the woman seemed nice, but that it's important that she stay with me. I don't want to frighten her and make her think everyone is a bad guy, but I want her to be aware.
So, later, we go to Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. As we were in an aisle an elderly man came up and began talking to Jax. He said some kinda questionable things, "He knows I'm a grandpa," "I have a whole room of trains at my house," "Grandpas just love to cuddle and take naps." I, of course, was extremely uncomfortable with this man and began walking away with my kids when Ava turns around and says, "You're a stranger!"
I turned away and smiled. I don't know if she sensed just how creepy this man was or if this should be the reaction I should come to expect anytime anyone unfamiliar speaks to my kids. I asked her why she thought the man was a stranger. She said, "We don't know him. He shouldn't talk to Jax unless he asks you because you're the Mommy." So proud!