Friday, October 16, 2009

The Gift of Fear

There are a lot of weirdos in this world, that I know for sure.

Recently, I was approached by a very obviously mentally ill man in a dark parking lot. He was homeless, or at least looked that way and stank of urine. It was as I was leaving the grocery store. I just had Abby with me and she was still in the cart as I unloaded into the trunk.

He asked me for cash, and as he stood there, he was rambling incoherently to himself. I wasn't mean to him--the truth really was that I had no cash. But I certainly tried to put out that polite, but you-don't-want-to-mess-with-me-or-my-kid-vibe. I guess I went into "momma bear" mode.

I never looked back to see what Abby was doing while all of this was happening. Then I hear her scream "DAAAAA-DAAAAAAH" and when I turned around there she was, smiling as brightly as I've ever seen and waving frantically to this man. You see, Abby calls pretty much all men (including Rob) daaa daaah.

He didn't wave to her, or even smile back. He really didn't seem to know what was going on at all. He just stood there and stared. He ended up leaving after I gave him a bag of tortilla chips from my grocery bag and asked him leave us alone. And he went on his way, uneventfully. But it got me thinking. I know she's little, but she seemed to not pick up on my stress or the man that was CLEARLY not interested in playing her game.

I am not a scaredy cat, it just seems that lately, I've grown to be more and more paranoid about stuff. I guess it's all the media surrounding Jaycee Dugard. It also didn't help that, while I was up in the middle of the night with Ellie, I watched the Oprah from this week that featured all the missing children.

I know that my kids are probably way too young to learn about "stranger danger." I want her to still be her outgoing little self, without being so paranoid about strangers that she lives in a constant state of fear. How do we teach our kids to be safe, without being scared? Please weigh in on this issue, whether you have kids or not. Any advice?

On a side note, I read a great book a few years ago about trusting your instincts. It's called The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. It's where I learned that sometimes, in the name of safety, it's okay to be direct and ask someone to leave. He stresses that it's always a good idea to trust your instincts. They are there to protect you. He's written another book about keeping kids safe, so maybe I'll read it and do another book review...


crazy4chapstick said...

it's weird..every since i've gotten pregnant i've been super paranoid about everything..from strangers to hoping people don't hit me when i'm driving down the sick people at the store. i feel like ive got to protect this little bun in the oven..i can't imagine how i'll be once she's out in the world.