I had a conversation with my 7-year-old daughter today about Stranger Danger. What triggered the conversation? Her pleas to not let her little brother wear his favorite light-up gym shoes to school.
My thoughts were, ”I just spent $50 on his shoes. He loves them. He is going to wear them.”
She responded quickly with a prescribed “Stranger Danger” plan that she learned from school. It wasn’t the typical “Don’t take candy from a guy in a van” type of speech that has been rattled off across kitchen tables across America over the decades.
Instead, she told what to do if a stranger with a gun enters her school. I think this is where my heart skipped a beat.
I couldn’t believe my ears! She proceeded to tell me that if a stranger carrying a gun is in the building, the lights need to be turned off and that she needs to hide somewhere to make it look like the building is empty.
With her hand gestures sternly posed and her eyes wide open, she continued to say that she is to remain still and not draw attention to herself. Thus the reason her brother can’t wear his light-up gym shoes to school. She is afraid he will get hurt.
Caught off-guard and with egg (more like a dozen eggs) on my face, I told her I was so proud of her for looking out for her little brother. I gave her a hug and said we would have a family discussion about it later. Then, my mind went in a thousand different directions trying to digest what just happened.
Pinch. Pinch. Pinch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. It really did just happen.
I am scared for my kids.
I remember tornado drills in school. Those alone scared the begeezes out of me. Now couple that with Stranger Danger drills that include the potential for guns being fired at kids and you are certainly creating some emotions that have lasting effects.
Perhaps I shelter my kids too much because I don’t think they even really know what a gun is, what matches look like or what a vampire movie like Fright Night is! My kids are 5 and 7; isn’t it too early to jade them with today’s realities?
So, I am left with the questions of, “Do I let my son wear his twinkling gym shoes that he loves? What will my daughter think if I let him wear them to school? Am I negating the importance of what the school is teaching the kids by letting him wear those shoes? What happens if (heaven forbid) it isn’t a drill and my kid’s shoes are twinkling away?”
I may have to return them out of sheer guilt and perhaps a little fear.
Thank heaven I bought them at Kohl’s where they have a liberal return policy, I am certain they will understand.