Friday, July 17, 2009

Whatever happened to Stranger Danger?

Small children adore my husband. It's not something I've always fully understood, as he's generally quiet, a bit shy, and looks nothing like Barney the dinosaur, but it just is what it is. Our friends' kids have always taken to Daniel immediately, even though he's not remotely the type to strike up a convo with a kid he doesn't know. I, on the other hand, have always seemed to be wearing a sign that says "trying too hard." I remember one time, I was babysitting my good friends' kids and I decided I would do my best to be as lovable as they found my husband. Maybe, just maybe, I could get them to stop referring to us as "Daniel, and Daniel's friend." It didn't fly, and their daughter ended up sitting and watching Daniel study rather than do play-doh with me. Talk about an ego blow. Really.

It usually doesn't bother me that kids like to hang with Daniel. With kids he knows really well, like our nieces and nephews, he's the fun Uncle that tosses them in the air, and plays chase or catch in Grandma's backyard. It's adorable to watch.

However, lately, when he tries to take Sam to the park to play, strange children have started following us around. By strange, I mean kids we don't know from Adam, not that the kids are weird--at least not any weirder than the general weirdness of feeling completely at ease bugging strangers. They appear out of seemingly nowhere, so they must live within view of the park, and they just come over and make themselves comfortable with our toys and talk Daniel's ear off. And the extra weird thing is they come all by themselves, not a parent in sight, not even on the porches or in the windows of nearby houses. What the heck is up with that? Haven't these people ever heard of stranger danger? I mean, yes, I know that Daniel is an incredibly nice guy who would never hurt their kids, but they don't know anything about us! This isn't an isolated incident either, I personally have seen it happen twice in recent weeks, in two different parks in our neighborhood, and it's not the same kid!
It's insanely awkward for several reasons, not the least of which is that Daniel is not cool with being alone with kids he doesn't know, and who can blame him for not wanting to appear on Dateline because some kid decided to show up and be his best friend? So instead of him staying at the park with Sam like he planned, he ends up making me come supervise instead of cooking dinner, or he just has to leave and head home earlier than planned.
Leaving gets complicated too, because we don't just want to leave some kid standing alone in the park at dusk (unlike their own parents, we actually do have concerns about their kid's safety), but we also don't feel comfortable asking where they live to take them home. Who knows but that the kids who don't seem to understand the concept of not talking to strangers will in fact freak out if a stranger asks their address? I hate that these parents are ditching me with a sense of responsibility that they don't seem to have for their own children. Plus, when these kids come to play with our toys, good luck getting them to cough them back over so we can go home! Just last night, some kid was holding our remote control car hostage until Daniel would tell him what night we would be coming back to the park to play (yeah, right, like we'll show up when we said we would, strange little child)! How insanely nuts is that? I was in no mood to play his little game, because we forgot Sam's water and she was getting overheated, so I just started walking away. I had to get my baby some water, and I wasn't about to let someone else's crappy parenting stop me. A few minutes later, I heard Daniel literally running behind me to catch up. When he got there he said "Geez, you can't leave me alone with a strange kid! What is with nosy kids today, did you hear all the stuff he felt okay asking me about!?"
Instead of a nice day at the park, we were ticked off. I was mad because with work and school Daniel gets maybe 45 minutes a day to just play with Sam, and instead, he had to spend it with a kid taking his attention away from her by taking her toys and asking rude questions! He was mad because he doesn't want to be put in a situation he's uncomfortable with, and there's no one to talk to about stopping it because the parents are all ghosts or something. Sam was the only one happy because while Daddy and I were distracted by Captian Obnoxious, she found a mud puddle to step in.

I want to know what the crap these parents are thinking to just let their children wander around with total strangers. If you think I watch too many crime shows and don't care about your kid's safety, then at the very least, have the social decency to keep them from endlessly irritating people you don't know!!!

Am I crazy? Do we still live in a world where you can be totally chill with your kids going up to people you don't know without you present to keep an eye on them? I really don't think we do, but what's your take?


Kym said...

I'll let the boys run off to a friends house or ride their bikes around the block (just Tanner and Jayden; I'd go with Ethan if he wanted to), but I don't allow them to go to the park without me. There was a child molestation in a park nearby us. I took have seen the random child who isn't afraid to talk to strangers. I saw it at my old apartment complex, too and that kid was just a two year old baby. I was horrified. I was worried about the child, because he was obviously upset, but I didn't know what to do. I had my own baby to watch.

Luann said...

How old are these kids? I'm sure you have to let your child off on their own at a certain age, but I'd assume that age would occur when they were past the whole "perstering someone with stupid questions" phase. I can't imagine letting Greg on his own until at least 10 or 11, and definitely not to just hang out at the park.

Carly said...

They're only like 6-8, somewhere in there. Young enough that I'm not comfortable leaving them alone.