Sunday, October 10, 2004

Guest blogger Mommoose here again with...

Stranger Danger – Part Two

Terrifying my own children was actually the polar opposite of the values we consciously tried to impart to them when they were young. Rather than warning them about potential dangers lurking around every corner of life, we tried to give them the sense that life is a full-on adventure, where exciting discoveries are just around the bend. Of course, every good adventure is fraught with some degree of peril (a fact of life my death-defying older son continues to point out to me on a frighteningly regular basis) but for the most part, life’s a blast, and the people we meet along the way are really pretty cool. We taught our kids when they were on the verge of occasional independence, that if ever they were in a situation where they were afraid, or felt uncomfortable for any reason, they could safely go up to any passing stranger and ask for help. We taught them to be keen observers of people’s apparent personality, and we sometimes played “who would you ask” when we were on streets or in shopping malls, pointing out that if available, other families with kids would be most likely to respond to a child in need. We taught them to be wary and alert if an unknown adult ever approached them for any reason, but never to worry about initiating the approach to an adult they chose to trust. Trust seemed a far more precious commodity than fear, and hopefully one that would be more frequently employed by them in later years. Seeking the good in people, rather than the bad. Confidence, coupled with pragmatism. That’s what my little boys were made of!

Other than the aforementioned playground incident, I’m not aware that either son ever had reason to utilize those “stranger danger” teachings. Which goes to show, we must have been at least a bit right about the balance of good and evil in the world. Not that you’d necessarily know it from reading the newspapers. But on a stroll down the street? You betcha!

Our Badger has paid me a profound compliment -- she’s left me with the key to her blog home, and the trust that I will not abuse the privilege and will treat it with care. Something one might do for a friend, of course, but, we’ve never met. Does that make us strangers? Not by my definition. I’ve never met the young man in Shanghai who feels like a true son to me. I’ve never met the woman in New Hampshire whose daughter loves to read, but if she lived just down my street we’d be fast friends. I’ve never met the new mother in North Carolina, or the young woman in St. Louis whose babies sure could use an extra grandma some days. I’ve never met the doctor who put my older son’s face back together after a distant mountain biking accident, to whom I owe far more than my everlasting gratitude. I’ve never met the dear friend in Chicago who is close to the very top of my list of special people. And I’ve never met the family in Japan who hosted our younger son during his ‘round the world study-abroad adventure, and who treated him like one of their own. Until they ring our doorbell, I haven’t met the friends to whom our older son gives directions to our house in case they need a bed for the night or some cookies, or just a hug when they pass by in this direction. Until we rang their doorbell, we hadn’t met the families in New Zealand who gave us beds and hugs (and cookies!) when we stayed with them as part of our globalfreeloaders adventure.

Stranger danger? Not so much. But friends I haven’t met yet? Oh yeah!

I’ll be back tomorrow with something a little lighter that I think you might enjoy. In the meantime, if anyone besides my far-away friend Louise is really out there, give me some practice with the comments thing, OK? I’ve never fooled around with this before, but since UB’s avowed intent was to try and get me hooked… Sly creatures, those badgers, eh? But friendly!

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