Friday, July 13, 2012

Stranger Negotiations

Bug is the QUEEN of negotiating and making bad ideas seem like great ideas.

Me: "It's time for bedtime snack and then off to bed"
Bug: "Well, Mom.... Here's the thing.... I was actually thinking..... maybe I should watch a little show while I have my snack because that will help me calm down and relax before I get into bed"

*All the while, she is using big hand motions, eyebrows, head nodding... the whole bit.  Just think 'Shirley Temple with straighter hair' and you've got it*

And, you guessed it.... I LET HER DO IT!  She's too good.  Entirely too smart for me already in the department of negotiating.

However, I stick to my guns where it counts.

Our latest point of contention: "Don't talk to strangers."

My first born was truly made for outreach.  We just moved to a town where we know no one, and it has yet to phase her.  Every playground, every restaurant, every hospital staff picnic.... she literally walks up to kids and adults she has never met with open arms, gives a huge hug and says, "Hey! I'm .....! We should probably be friends."  (*again with the hands and the head nodding and the eyebrows*)

This is entirely out of my comfort zone.  I'm not introverted by any means, but it usually takes me at least 6 days of knowing someone to hug upon arrival.

All of this will eventually lead us to the subject of strangers.

A few weeks ago, we went to a beach; where again, we knew no one.  My husband was walking down the beach with Peanut and I was sitting in a chair watching Bug play in the water about 15 yards away.  I watched a lady with a baby walk up to where Bug was playing.  Here is how the scene played out:

Bug: "Oh, hey! How are you guys?  I like your baby!" (as she begins to pet the baby's leg)
Lady: "Oh hi.  What's your name?"
Bug: "My name is ...... My sister's name is ...... We live in ..... We just moved from ......  My daddy is a Radiologist at the hospital and my dog's name is Hamilton.  He's a really nice dog." (*I'm watching with my mouth wide open.... is she going to give her a key to our house next?!)
Lady: "Oh wow, that's exciting."
Bug: "Yeah, we are visiting here to the beach.  I like it a lot." (*and at this point I start to make my way over to the three of them as I watch Bug start to hug this random lady, who by the way looks slightly uncomfortable and glad to see that this crazy kid has an adult along for the ride)

Granted, she was a 'mommy' and was holding a baby; but the fact remains: She was alone and we do not know her!

Bug has:

opened hotel doors to people she doesn't know
shared personal information with strangers
invaded countless personal spaces upon introduction
interrupted many meals in restaurants
gotten me and my husband into quite a few awkward situations with other adults by walking up to them and introducing us to them.... "Hi, I like your dress! (touching random lady's dress)  This is my mother...."

We have been talking about strangers for months now.  After the beach moment we revisited the issue immediately.  After a lot of head nodding and "yes sir-ing", we seemed to reach an understanding.  Then we asked, "So what should you do if you are not with Mom or Dad, and someone you don't know walks up to you, or speaks to you; should you speak to them?"

We held our breath.

Bug: "No....  (*sigh of relief from the parents).....

"BUT if they are nice and holding babies or puppies, or food or something, then it's probably OK because they are nice and won't hurt me or take me away"

Am I on "Candid Camera: After School Special Edition"?!
She is negotiating.  She is trying to make strangers seem like a good idea!

I pulled out all the stops and went into detail about the whole issue of kidnapping......

Me: "sometimes strangers take you away from Mommy and Daddy"
Bug: "oh that might be fun! I would get to visit a new place!"
Me: "No!  It would not be fun!  They don't feed you.  You don't take a bath. You don't get to play with friends or hug Mommy and Daddy.  And sometimes they hurt you and don't give you band aids.  And they definitely don't give you back to your families."

Seems harsh, but we were getting desperate.  My husband jokingly suggested letting her watch the movie Ransom.... But we aren't quite that desperate yet.

After the conversation that I thought would give her nightmares, we went to a park.  20 minutes into our visit I look over and Bug is having a lovely conversation with an adult foreign woman who doesn't speak very good English.  They are giggling and smiling and also about 30 yards away from me; just out of ear shot.

I'm watching.
Suddenly, a light comes on and Bug shoots me a look.... eyes wide open, eyebrows up, mouth open.... she realized: she was talking to a stranger!  A breakthrough!

And then the woman said something "funny" in broken Engilsh and the "ah-ha!" moment was gone.... the lovely conversation resumes.  I call Bug over and (overreact) as I wonder if my next step will be hiring those people who kidnap you just for the thrill of it...?  Have you heard of this?  I saw a 60 Minutes about it one time.

After consulting a few of the wise Mommies in my life, I settled on "The Berenstain Bears: Don't Talk to Strangers" book.

It works!  I had my doubts.  After all the "heart to heart" moments we had on the subject, what more can these bears in overalls have to say?!

Needless to say, we have read it a lot and the point has been made and seemingly received.

Thankfully, her welcoming spirit, acceptance, and love for all mankind is still in tact and everyone we meet is still her new best friend.  However, a new sense of caution has been instilled in her little brain, thanks to Mama and Papa Bear.

Now on to the next issue:
She just told me, as I was typing the post, that last night "I had a taste of Daddy's wine that he left on the counter.  It tasted pretty good to me!"
"Berenstain Bears Don't Drink From the Funny Shaped Glasses?"
I doubt there is a book for that one

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