To the nice man I met on our morning walk:
I apologize for acting extremely stand-offish, and dismissive…but you make me nervous (and not in a good way). I’m sure you are a very nice man. You are probably a father or an uncle, maybe even a teacher. Or maybe you just like kids. Or perhaps you are just incredibly friendly. I’m sorry that you make me incredibly nervous. I’m sorry that I immediately think about every horrific news story, made for TV movie or possible worst case scenario.
It’s not you. I promise. Or maybe it is…I don’t know. And that’s the problem.
It’s just that when a man I don’t know is by himself and walks across the street to say hello to my child, asks his name, his age, whether he goes to school…it makes all of my mommy-defense instincts go on high alert. I’m sure you probably know my husband. You have a dog, we have a dog…my husband speaks to total strangers with ease. He makes besties on the sidewalk. Finds new pals in the coffee line. Perhaps you saw me walking our dog this morning because Micah had to go to work early and didn’t have time to take her out and thought you would say hi…meet the wife and kid. Perhaps you were just feeling social. Perhaps you had only the most innocent of intentions.
I’m sorry, but no matter how nice or normal you are, I will never be comfortable with a strange man approaching my child on his bike and asking him personal questions…especially about where he goes to school. All I could think was THANK GOODNESS the kid has no idea what the name of his new school is.
Unfortunately, I felt the need to ‘warn’ my babysitter that came this morning about you. Unfortunately, I felt the need to wander a couple blocks over so that you wouldn’t know which street we lived on. Unfortunately, I made a mental note that is ingrained in my mind of your face, your build, your appearance. I also may have checked the national sex offender registry for your face.
Unfortunately, I will spend the rest of this week revisiting all of our favorite “stranger danger” books.
I’m sure if Micah was with us he would have told me how ridiculous I am being. Just like when the older man approached us at the park and played catch with my son. Or when the nice man wanted to peek in and see him while he was sleeping on a stroller walk. Or when I lose sight of the kiddo for less than a second when we are out in a busy public place.
Every time I’m quick to judge like this, I think about my father or my husband, both of whom are incredibly friendly and kid-loving. I think about them approaching someone else’s adorable child and asking them questions. I think about myself asking kids I come across about themselves. I think about how incredibly harmless you could be. But reason doesn’t overcome the icky feeling I get when I think about how it might not be so innocent. And call me overprotective, but I will always err on the side of immensely fierce mama bear levels of protection.
I’m sorry if this makes me sexist, or judgmental or absolutely overbearingly insane. But it’s the way it is.
Again. I’m sure you are very nice. But when you make a point to cross the street to talk to my toddler. Well, you come across as a super-duper creeper. So next time I see you, if I hurry in the other direction, don’t be offended. Or do be. I don’t really mind either way. I would rather have you think I’m an anti-social crazy person than possibly allow you to develop a “friendly” relationship with my son. Because, unless I know you, and I mean REALLY know you. You don’t get to know my kids. End of story.