9.28.2010

Have You Had "The Talk?"

I had "the talk" with the girls tonight. The super intense, scare the cr*p out of them, make them cry talk. You know the one, where you furrow your brow a lot and remind them that this isn't funny and you are serious. No, we didn't have THAT talk, where we'd one day have to use phrases like "front-tushie" and "yes, one day you will want to touch that..." No, our dinner conversation was far worse.

We talked about Stranger Danger.

My girls apparently live in la-la land where they think everyone is great and they don't need to worry about anyone or anything. They meander away from me in the stores. They chit chat with everyone they encounter, especially if they have a dog. They don't even bother to look both ways when they cross a street ... for they'd never get hit. The girls just don't understand that there are a different set of rules for them now that we live in the States.

Rules like ...

... We must always wear a seat belt ...even though we'd often smush as many kids into a car as possible, regardless of whether or not we had enough car seats to go around. Or any for that matter.

... The girls must always stay by my side when we go into stores ... ignoring that in all three countries we've lived we could leave the kids in the car or let the kids play in one store while we went into another ... or another ... or another. Because while I may not be able to see them, the shop keeper, or other shoppers could. And, yes, that was normal.

... Don't talk to strangers. If I don't know them, they're a stranger. Yes, even if you know the dog and I don't know the owner, they're a stranger. Yes, even if they tell you that they know me, if I tell you I don't know them, they're a stranger. And yes, even if someone approaches you and tells you that they know me, don't believe them, because if you haven't seen me talking to them, chances are, I don't know them, and they're strangers. Yes Riley, they ARE strangers, even if I nod my head to them as we walk by them at the park or on a bike ride. Yes Sheridan, they ARE strangers even if they come to the door and ask to pet Libby while I'm taking a shower. WT?? Yes Sheridan, they ARE strangers. Will you stop asking me #$#!@#$%&*# questions.

... Knowing our address and phone number is key.... even though all the girls needed to do was tell someone, anyone they were with the US Embassy or Consulate and they'd all know who they were. Or where they lived. Even if the girls themselves didn't know.

Surprisingly, the girls do know my cell number. And our address. Whew! Two fewer things I need to worry about right now. Because not only do I worry about the crazies out there, I also worry that the girls wouldn't know what to do or who to call in case of an emergency.

So we ran through scenarios and talked about what to do if something (goodness forbid) ever happened to me while we were all home alone. We talked about whose house to go to, what neighbors to bother, and how to scream for help.

I even, dare I say it, showed both of them how to open up my iPhone, and how to dial 911. Just in case.

Though now I don't just worry about strangers. I worry about Sheridan prank calling 911.

23 comments:

The Bald Guy said...

Being a mom is so hard isn't it? I'm scared now. Worried too. And telling you yet again that I admire how courageous you are.

Good luck, and God bless your family.

Donna said...

So true, all of it! Now I think I need to do my own blog post on the topic, rather than write 950 words in your comments.

I had such trouble when we were on home leave, because my kids would take off in Target or the grocery store, with no worries. They'd run out in the street. My family couldn't understand that this was normal for the kids - it wasn't just a case of kids misbehaving. They had such freedom in China that they couldn't suddenly flip that switch.

Another story: When Shay was 5 or 6, and we were in the US, we had the stranger danger conversation. A few hours later he came in with an advertising circular. "Where'd you get that?" "The guy outside gave it to me." "That guy? He's a stranger." "No he isn't mom. He has pizza coupons!" Arghhh.

Christy said...

Wow I had no idea things were so different re: strangers in your other posts! Interesting! That's really great that they know your phone number and address already. That talk must have been even more scary for you, since you did it alone. Hugs! I'm actually really glad you wrote this - obviously this particular talk is a ways off for me, since our oldest is two, but the internet strangers - the weirdos - is what made me make my blog private yesterday. I am going to write about it soon and I'd really LOVE your honest opinion on it! Of course! Hope you have a good day today Jill! xo

Mom24 said...

It's great that you recognized how different things are for the girls here and knew to address all those things. Wow! You're back in Kansas, eh?

Glad it wasn't the other talk. :)

A Daring Adventure said...

Oh wow. WOW.

Not helpful to you at ALL will my comment be, but the first thing I thought of after reading this (and Donna's contribution) was:

Gosh, I'm sure glad my boys are old!

(Sorry. No help. But at least it's empathy?)

It gets better, Momma! The older the children get, the easier life becomes!

Bubbie said...

When I was little we had a peeping tom. That totally affected my being afraid of strangers. Good show. Isn't parenthood fun.

Bfiles said...

goodness, how scary, but good convo to have. I just ventured into the world of "who can touch your private parts?" Good times. And who can blame the kids for being confused? It's confusing.

Anna See said...

this is all good advice. i need to go over this some more!

Twenty Four At Heart said...

The Talk never stops ... as my kids headed off for college a few weeks ago we were discussing the danger of leaving drinks unattended ... or accepting a drink from someone that you didn't watch being poured. It's hard being a mom ...

Issas Crazy World said...

Gah, that must have been a nightmare. I can't even imagine not having this stuff just be knowledge from birth on. ha. But I'm from Los Angeles. I'm trained to not trust anybody. ;)

Um, you might want to warn them that calling 911 unless it's a serious need, means they may not believe you if you needed them. Somehow that worked in my girls heads. Neither has ever called for kicks.

Natalie said...

That's a tough one. Good for you for doing it. Now go have a nice glass of wine. Well earned.

Connie said...

We've talked of strangers, and not opening doors, nor giving info on the phone, and I've always been strict about them staying with me in stores and other places (if you can't see me, I can't see you, and if I can't see you, I can't help you... it works). What scared me though is the running out into traffic. We were always in a walled compound, school, club, etc. Family lives with wide open yards! Kids had no street instincts and were fast runners. We actually have a front yard and road now, and I think they're getting better.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I think about this (and worry about it) a lot. Oliver is so behind on his ability to process general complex ideas, I have no idea how to go about explaining strangers. The good news is that he's not overly friendly and would probably freak out if anyone tried to touch him. But I do need to come up with a way to start instilling these ideas... It will be easier with the twins. Right now, I keep it simple with "I need to be able to see you - I don't know the people around us so you need to be next to me." But I think they're ready for more specifics.

Emily said...

Wow. I have been thinking about this too. Thanks. Luckily both my kids are young enough that they still stick pretty close, but that day is coming soon that they will want to go off on their own.
I had to laugh at "front-tushie". My younger sister (by 12 years) used to call it her "front-bum". Nicknames for body parts still makes me giggle.

Kat said...

I know, I know. This is a hard talk. My boys always think everyone is their friend so it is very difficult for me to get through to them. I just have to keep repeating it I guess.
Plus, I don't want to scare them so badly that they walk through life in fear, ya know? It is a delicate balance. Still, it has to be done.

Daniela Swider said...

We've had to have the talk many times because our daughter has always been too friendly with strangers. In FL, we lived by a park and my mom used to take her for walks there. Nia would talk to every stranger there, especially the ones with the dogs (surprise, surprise!) I was particularly freaked out when my mom told me of Nia chatting with a stranger again (even though we had told her not to) and telling him "Oh, I live right over there and my Mommy and Daddy are at work."

I think the stranger danger is hard for kids to grasp because on the one hand we want them to be friendly and nice to people, even if they are meeting them for the first time (strangers to them) and on the other we don't want them to talk to these other people that we see as strangers but they see as magnets (a person with a cute puppy).

bettyl said...

You can't be too careful, although you don't want to be hovering all the time. My 14-year-old had a friend over and he didn't even know his own phone number!!

Jen said...

Nicholas "prank" called 911 once..thankfully they gave him a pass as he was only 6 months old...

LeesOnTheGo said...

Going to America brings out the Mother Bear in me too. There are real benefits to overseas portions of this lifestyle. That being said, we had the Nairobi version of the "Stranger Danger" talk. But ours was more along the lines of "How to Get Out Fast If Someone Puts A Gun To The Car Window". My biggest fear is that we'll get carjacked and the thugs won't know there are kids in the back. Or worse yet, the boys won't get out fast enough b/c of some favorite toy they won't leave behind.

Yea. I guess living overseas does have it's own forms of Stranger Danger too, doesn't it? Better keep my Mother Bear claws sharpened too.

NKL

Bfiles said...

Actually it's nice to hear that in some ways you feel your kids are safer abroad because all you hear is all the scary news from Mexico, etc and I keep wondering what I'm thinking sometimes.

Sara said...

Yes! Great job touching on some of these issues. I need to be reminded of this in a few years when we are home from our next overseas post. Living overseas is so different for kids. So much freedom on one hand. Right now Addie is terrified of all the Filipinos who want to touch and go gaga over her all the time so she sticks to me like glue. For now, that is.

Robin said...

Yup, we know The Talk all too well. We have to have it each time we go back to the States for a visit, and as the kids get older the why and why can't I questions get harder to answer. Sigh...

Today though we're back home in Israel after a quick vacation to Holland and my almost 7 year old just went to her friend's house (in the building) alone, with instructions to return if the other girl wasn't home.

Oh, and my son the goalie apparently hurt his hand AGAIN during a soccer game this morning, Jay has him at the doctor now, from where he will hopefully be returning without a cast or another set of x-rays. Welcome home folks...

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TulipGirl said...

I remember when my boys were younger wanting to help them be cautious without instilling fear (especially since one of them was very anxious as a child.)

One thing we did was coach them, "If you can't find mommy, then go up to another mommy and tell her, 'Hey, I can't find MY mommy!'" (I figure, other moms with little kids are likely to be the most helpful/least dangerous.)

Another thing we talked about was how we DON'T keep secrets. If someone says, "This is a secret. . . don't tell your parents" -- then you MUST come tell mommy and daddy right away. Even if it is a friend. Even if it is a teacher. Anytime someone says don't tell your parents, you need to automatically tell us. And, they've followed through on that, though thankfully, the "secrets" they've told us have been mundane.

The other day we were at a park and my 11 y/o was teaching another little boy "secret ninja stuff." As we were leaving he said, "Remember what I told you -- it's a secret. Don't tell anyone!" I reminded him of our "no secrets" rule, and he quickly said, "Well, tell your mom. . . but don't tell anyone else about our secret ninja training!"

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