Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Friendliness and the cynical parent.

My pre-schooler is showing signs of a very friendly personality. At the grocery store last weekend he waved cheerfully and yelled "hi" at the top of his voice to anyone we met in an aisle. He chatted tirelessly with the cashier, asking if she knew where the chocolate Easter eggs were.

This afternoon I caught him leaning out the open window (on the ground floor, don't worry), waving and yelling to someone across the street - a woman walking her dog. The woman had stopped to smile and wave back at him, perhaps not wanting to seem rude, perhaps a little embarrassed.

Wherever we are, he wants to talk to people. He talks all day long: to me, to the dog, to our next-door neighbours, the mail man, the guy at the grocery store, the old lady at the park - whoever happens to be there at the time.

Only a child, or the mentally unsound, could stop a complete stranger and start up a random conversation that begins with an anecdote about diggers, moves onto the airplane in the sky above, and promptly switches with extreme enthusiasm to the squirrel climbing the tree across the street.

It's too bad that, despite being utterly proud, my mind naturally swerves to the idea that his friendliness could, potentially, pose a risk to him, and that maybe I should reign in his outgoing personality a little.

It's a shame it has to be this way. If only I could guaruntee the world would respond in the kind, genuine way he believes it will. If only I could protect him forever.

We haven't had to tackle the issue of talking to strangers. We haven't needed to.

How and when did you tackle it?
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Sara Plays House said...

I will be watching your comments with GREAT interest! My daughter walks up to everybody with "I'm Avery. I'm four years old. Some dinosaurs are herbivores blah blah blah."
So I've been thinking about the whole Stranger Danger thing lately too.

Lady Mama said...

Sara Plays House - that's so funny! Sounds exactly like the kind of thing my son would say.

Some kind of Wondermom said...

I think we have the same child. My 3yo son talks to everybody we meet. He goes up to complete strangers and says 'Hi my name is ' Then he says it again. And again. And again. Soon I bet he'll be adding 'And I live at .' On one hand I know he won't have trouble making friends at school, but I too worry about him talking to strangers.

Stesha said...

We live in a small town, and basically know everyone...or we try to convince ourselves that we do. Anyway, our children are super friendly, and will start conversations with anyone that we come in contact with. Lately, my husband and I, have started discussing with the younger children about strangers, and it's really hard. They don't understand that the postman is actually a stranger. The cashier at our local Walmart is a stranger. These are people that they see often, and to them they are their friends. Sigh. It's hard, but eventually it will become easier for them to understand. My goal is not to scare them, but make them more aware.

Hugs and Mocha,

Lady Mama said...

Some kind of Wondermom - too bad being so sociable has to be tainted with the worry of stranger danger.

Stesha - that's tough, as you say, how do you explain that these people really are strangers even though they see them often? I think you're right in trying to create awareness without scaring them. So hard!

gringationcancun said...

I think it's ok. People in this day in age worry so much about very improbable things, that they don't get to know eachother anymore. Some won't even let kids play outside in the neighborhood.

I think as long as you're keeping an eye on him, it's awesome! Wish I were that fearless.

Angela said...

I've got the same in my 4 YO DD. But like gringatuiocancun says....I wish I were that fearless. My daughter charms everyone she meets, and if she brings a smile to someone's day, I let her.

In time, I believe she will learn by our actions, and the behaviour she witnesses in her more-reserved older brother, what is appropriate and what is not. Also, she will clue in to other people's "signs" that perhaps they aren't that interested in what she has to say.

Until then, I fully embrace her innocence and happiness (and watch for signs that grumpy old man at the grocery store has had enough...)!

Mwa said...

I hate that conversation, because you have to spoil their trust in humanity somewhat. I have tried to have it, but I think it can't really be explained to small children that well. I'm always trying to tell my 5yr old he can only go with persons X,Y,Z, and then the lady in the shop asks if he wants a sweetie and he disappears into the back room with her without warning me. And it's the slightly familiar people I reckon could potentially be the most dangerous.

So - while I still try, I'm going with the "have some faith in the world" approach. While bad things may happen, I'm sure a simple chat with a 5yr old would be no match for evil intent. Sadly. But there you go.

Sorry, rambling, and depressingly at that.

Kristy said...

My son does the same thing and I love that he is so social. It is a good thing. I think maybe that you worry about the stranger thing when your child is able to spend any time alone unsupervised (like in the neighborhood), or as soon as your child is able to comprehend that kind of conversation.

Kim - In Search of Me in Mommy said...

I am so with you! I have a 5 and 4 year old boys...and I feel very inept about this. My sons chitchat with anyone, and I SO don't want to scare them - especially my over-reacter

Recently our Early Childhood PTA had someone come in and talk about the whole saftey issue and children. He was GREAT and really made sese to me. He is affiliated with a national program. I am thinking about signing my boys up...

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Captain Dumbass said...

I don't remember when we first brought it up with ours. Probably when they started wandering off from us at the mall.

If I Could Escape . . . said...

Well, I had to talk to my littlest one about stranger danger when he copied a little girl and hugged her dad. Who we'd never met before in our lives! =(

Tammy said...

I've heard that the outgoing ones are actually less likely to get in trouble so maybe it's a good thing.. :)