Stranger-danger was put into play one afternoon when Roberto, who was 5 years old at the time, and I approached our new home. I was driving very slowly down the street and noticed a man slow his pace as I pulled the car into our driveway. Roberto, I said, still inside the car, when we get out of the car I need you to be as quick as you can, as we walk to the front door. You cannot take your time and move slowly today. There is a man standing nearby, a stranger, and I just want to get inside quickly. Got it? He nodded, confirming he understood what I was saying. Then I pushed the car door out, wide, while saying, Come on, let’s go. I completely ignored the guy. Until, out of my peripheral, I noticed he began walking towards us, coming down the drive. Instinct kicked in. I shoved Roberto behind me, protecting him from possible, I don’t know, harm? I just looked at the man, as I reached my arm around, pressing my palm against Roberto’s back. Hello, he said. I’m just on my way home. I live right down there, he continued, pointing to the house at the end of the cul-de-sac. I just wanted to introduce myself. And welcome you and your family to the neighborhood. Oh hi, I said feebly. Nice to meet you.
Like any good parent would, I taught my children about stranger-danger. Not always an easy task considering I also wanted to teach them to be kind to their fellow man. This can be somewhat confusing to their tender minds. Be kind but don’t talk to someone you don’t know, I might say. I never felt one hundred percent sure about how to approach the topic with my kids, but overall I think they got the gist of what I meant.
Roberto looked back at the guy as we walked in the front door. Wasn’t he a stranger? Why did you talk to him? He asked.