Taking a cookie from a stranger

Listen to Simon and Garfunkel “El Condor Pasa”.

It is normal for us to teach our child not to talk to strangers, not to help them search for their lost puppy, not to take anything from them. Sometimes our 5-year-old asks about hypothetical situations and we tell him how to react, sometimes we ask him about hypothetical situations to check his reasoning.

We were on a playground, my mouse and me. I picked him up from the kindergarten and, without stopping home to change, we set sails to this playground. After making a circle around the playground for him to show me what he enjoys doing, I took a seat on a bench in the shades of a tall tree that I didn’t even look at. This is why I cannot tell you which tree it was (the odds are, even if I did take a look, I wouldn’t know its sort).

Mouse soon found a child of similar age to race with on the opposite side of the playground. This child was with his granny. I observed him like any (over)protective mum would but I never left my bench. One reason would be that I was trying to give him a sense of liberty and responsibility, the other one would be that I didn’t feel like meeting (new) people nor chitchatting. To set he record straight, I am rarely in the mood for that. This time I was in the zone, feeling the earth, trees, birds and enjoying the moment. This happens rarely because my mind is usually going through all the things I have to do before the week ends or it just drifts away to a different place.

The race ended and granny sat on a bench that was (still) on the opposite end of the playground. Her grandson sat on the grass and my mouse sat on the bench next to the granny. She offered him something to eat. He rejected. Clever little head. Then she offered him something else. I heard her voice through other children’s voices. It was a cookie. He said something and she gave the cookie to her grandson. Then she gave another cookie to my mouse.

I wanted to go there and tell him to never take anything from strangers, it can be poisoned (he is not aware of drugs and other stuff – something being poisoned is pretty close to his  level of perception of the world). I had a few really bad scenarios in my head but I also had this little voice that wanted to believe not all people are here to get my son. This voice also wants my son to be able to differentiate which people he can trust from people he cannot trust. An eternal endeavor of making my son grow up as safe as he can without making him think all people in the world are mind twisted psychopaths was put to the test. I let him eat the cookie but decided to talk to him about the situation later.

When it was time to leave, I approached my mouse and that sweet old lady started a conversation. Strangely, it was a pleasant conversation (and by participating in it,  I did my share of playground conversations for this week). Towards the end of the conversation, she said my son is really something. She first offered him a roll. He refused (in the car he told me he thought it was poisoned). When she offered him a cookie, he told her to give it to her grandson first so he sees it is OK to eat it. Once he saw kid is eating the cookie, he accepted other cookie himself. On our way home, in the car, we had a conversation.

“Why did you take the cookie? It could have been poisoned.”
“I told her to give it to her grandson first. A granny would never give something poisoned to eat to her grandson.”
“What if he wasn’t her grandson but she was using him to poison other children in the park?”

I got the answer to this question when we got home. Apparently he needed to think about the answer.

“Mum, then he wouldn’t smile and he would try to escape. He was sitting on the grass calling her granny. This is how I knew it was his granny.”

Later his dad asked him what if she had two cookies and she gave the poisoned one to him and normal one to her grandson. Mouse didn’t have an answer to that and somehow the topic was changed.

Should we be embarrassed to say openly to other mothers, fathers or grannies we do not know, not to offer our children any treats? If they open a bag of sweets in front of us, should we trust our eyes or not? Where does the sane worry about a child’s welfare end and paranoia begins?

Daily prompt: embarrassing


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