So Madness’ best friend, Maehem, is starting Kindergarten this year. Obviously, that’s a huge new level of terror for Maehem’s parents who get to watch her wander off into the hands of a public school system that, I’ve often been told, is batshit crazy.
Mostly, though, it’s the next level of letting go. And part of letting go, is making damn sure nobody else can grab hold while you’re not looking. So Maehem’s mom decided it was time for the stranger talk. Let’s call her M’mom.
M’Mom – “Hey, Maehem. What do you do if a stranger comes up to you and says. ‘I have a puppy. Do you want to come meet him?”
Maehem – “I GO with him! I love puppies!”
M’mom is naturally startled by this reaction – “NO! You don’t EVER go anywhere with strangers. What do you do if a stranger grabs you and tries to take you somewhere?”
Maehem – “I say no, thank you?”
M’mom – “No, honey. You scream and you punch and kick and bite until he leaves you alone.”
Maehem – “Yeah! And then, when he runs away, I chase him down and I PUNCH him MORE!”
M’mom *facepalm* – “NO, you RUN AWAY! You get mom or dad or a teacher.”
Maehem – “And then you guys punch him!”
M’mom – “Sure. And what do you do if Madness’s mommy wants to take you somewhere?”
Maehem – “I PUNCH her and SCREAM!”
I about laughed my ass off when I heard this. The same day, Madness and Maehem pulled a disappearing act during a BBQ and we had to drag them into the backyard of my house. Maehem bawled in her timeout for ten minutes. Madness just stared at us all from her side of the yard looking slightly bored and terribly put out by the whole thing. So I figured, what the hell. Let’s have “the talk.”
Me: “Madness, what do you do if a stranger tells you he has a puppy and he wants you to see it?”
Madness: “I say I have to go ask my mom.”
Me: “Wow, that’s actually a good answer. What if a stranger offers you a lollipop?”
Madness: “I go ask my mom.”
Me, beginning to see the theme: “What if he says he already asked your mom and she said it was okay?”
Madness: “Then it’s okay.”
Me: “NO! Bad guys lie, Madness. They can be tricky.”
Madness nods, looking thoughtful. This is easy, I think, I’m rad at this.
Me: “And what do you do if a stranger grabs you and tries to take you somewhere.”
Madness narrows her eyes: “I kill him.”
I take a beat. That was an intense shift: “Or you can scream and run away.”
She looks at me like I’m daft: “Mom, you have to kill bad guys. Until they’re DEAD.”
Clearly, this little talk has gotten away from me: “Maybe we should just stick with always getting mom, for now.”
She reaches up and delicately strokes my cheek, staring sympathetically into my eyes. “I’m sorry, mom, but one day, you’re going to die, too.”
And she really does look sorry about that. Sucks for me, I guess, and all the other poor mortals. I’ll just have to try not to dwell on it.
As to the stranger danger stuff, even though I know she’s pulling her answers out of her “make mom happy” hat, I’m not too worried about it. I’ve seen what happens when a nice lady attempts something as innocuous as affixing a day-pass bracelet to her wrist. Anyone trying to grab her would end up with one ear and PTSD.