Saturday, November 14, 2015

The World is Her Oyster

Read any childcare or developmental psych book - heck just spend some time with people and you know - there are many ways to approach the world. Some take stock of the action for a bit, and when they feel the rhythm join the dance. Others find comfort in narrating, watching, listening, keeping to the edge of the floor, but still feeling involved. Yet others come to the party dancing. For these kids there seems to be no hesitation, no waiting to feel the beat - they just run with it.

And they scare the hell out of their parents.

At the park, grocery store, or church this is the kid that talks to every stranger in sight, often punctuated by "See, Dad, he was a nice stranger." No amount of calmly delivered expectations or anecdotes will keep this child from her gregarious nature. 

A while ago I was at the grocery store with 3 out of 4 kids. Youngest sitting happily in the cart noticed a few tables in the cafe area were full, and she had an idea. "Mom, just let me down to say hi those people." Hmmm - nope. Boy began the stranger danger talk and Tween uttered her dismay. 

With exasperation beyond her years, and speaking very slowly as though we didn't share languages, she explained "It is good. I will go sit at a tablet and talk to those nice people. The bad people are not here. When you are done you get me here and it is fine." 

As a one time anecdote this is a precious example of the pure innocence of childhood.

As a life approach for a 4 year-old it is akin to juggling dynamite. Without any warning this is the child that sees a smile from across the auditorium and between one line of the play and the next has made his way under 3 rows of seating to say hello to the family down the way - typically just as his sibling is delivering his big line in the school play.

Child leashes were created for this kid. You see the self-conscious parents at theme parks avoiding dirty looks and hating the need for it, but knowing within the depths of their souls that their child will be the one who is on the 6 o'clock news at the bottom of the gorilla cage without such precautions - because they are nice in Tarzan you know.

So I found myself spit-balling some ideas to create more stranger aversion with Boy last night. And this was his idea...Have a friend that she doesn't know follow us at the grocery store and then, when Youngest talks to this person have it arranged that she takes Youngest away and says mean things to her all day. A staged kidnapping! Ahhh - NO. 

So he said we could do the same thing, but just have the friend be mean and grumpy to her - scare her while we are there. I get where he's going - but I'm not sure shattering the oyster that is her world is the best approach. Until we find the solution that keeps her uniquely her and us relatively sane, you may see me scurrying by in the class chorus concert on my knees as I try to extract my daughter from conversation with some hapless stranger.