I Want My Son to Talk to Strangers

My husband Todd is a stay-at-home dad for the next five weeks until school starts again for him in the fall.

In his time off, he’s been coaching Colt.

Fine tuning important life skills like fist-pounding, vacuum-wand-sword fighting and nose-picking “cheese boogies.”

Every night, I come home from work to de-program Colt from everything he’s learned that day.

But a few nights ago, when I was tucking Colt into bed, he whispered to me in his drunken-state-of-sleepiness…”Mommy, we don’t talk to strangers.”

Hmmmmm. Someone’s been talking to him about strangers.

Admittedly, I was relieved to know that daddy was taking charge of this subject.

I had been avoiding it.

I know there are cruel people in this world.

People that prey on sweet smiles and good natures and tiny limbs.

But most of the time I choose to live in denial.

If I accepted what I know to be true – that one out of five of us would murder our neighbor if we knew we’d never get caught (I really read this somewhere!!!) – than I would never get out of bed in the morning.

I also haven’t had the “we don’t talk to strangers” talk with Colt, because I want him to talk to strangers.

No one wants to have the kid who stares blankly in the face of the nice lady who asks, “and what’s YOUR name pumpkin?”

Blink. Blink.


I prefer to have the child who smiles and says, “My name is Colt Kellman Bedford. I have a hammer. Would you like to see my monkey wrench?”

I know I should be more cautious, but I also don’t want to instill a sense of fear in him – that every time an old man smiles at him, he should go running.

I have LOST SLEEP over this damn subject.

How do you teach your child to talk to some strangers but not others. To feel comfortable getting in the van with your girl friend when she’s on carpool duty, but not in the Monte Carlo with the lady with the meth-teeth?

And then, at Ikea last weekend I realized something amazing…

We were standing in line for the $0.99 breakfast (amaze-balls) and without warning, a woman snuck up behind us and poked Colt.

She vas Svedish.

(Side note: What are Swedish people doing hanging out at Ikea? Don’t you want to eat something OTHER than meatballs and lingonberries when you’re on vaca? Go get a grouper sandwich for God’s sake!!!!!)

By the smell of her breath, this woman had a few too many Svedish Mules the night before. She swayed over us. Oogling over Colt.

Before I could fully assess the situation at hand, Colt was hiding under my skirt, clinging to my thigh.

He took one look at that looney lady and knew.

Some kind of warning signal had gone off in his 2-year-old mind like… HOLY SHIT. THIS LADY IS CRAZY. MOMMY SAVE ME NOW.

And so I smiled politely at the lady, scooped him up in my arms and moved our trays toward the french toast sticks. With haste.

I was so proud of him.

I’m not saying it’s not important to teach your kids the whole “DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS” thing, but I take comfort in knowing that Colt can decipher sane from crazy at such a young age.

Now… had the lady offered him a new wrench and a sugar cookie? I don’t know what would have happened.

I’ll let daddy handle that one.Image


5 thoughts on “I Want My Son to Talk to Strangers

  1. Heather Dolhi says:

    Seriously – we share the same mommy brain! And it is amazing that kids seem to just know. Caitlin will say hi to some and straight up cry (or hide) with the creepers. It is encouraging but I’m with you and just don’t know how to balance that. And if someone offered her a lollipop and some stickers it could be a game changer to the situation.

  2. I think about this, too, ALL the time. As a mother to a girl, also, I struggle with all the talks I’ll have to have with her someday about the way that the world will make it her fault for anything that happens to her or the way that people might make her feel, even when it’s not. I know those conversations have to happen, but for now, we’re focusing more on which Ninja Turtle stickers we want (always Donatello) and how many bananas we think monkeys can fit into their mouths at one time (ALL OF THEM).

  3. Katie Bain says:

    Julie! I don’t know if you remember me (I met you during the few months I lived in Tampa in 2009!!) but I just read through a few of your posts and You Are HILaRiOUS! I seriously have laughed out loud… 🙂 thank you and glad to see you and your sweet family are doing well!

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