Today something happened that made me really think about whether or not I’m too protective of my children. Is it society that has made me that way? Is it just a natural instinct?
I was shopping at Asda with my 3 year old daughter, just paying for the items I’d purchased when an elderly gentleman approached us to ask if she wanted to have some of the green tokens they offer to put in the containers for named charities. I thought ah, that’s sweet and held out my hand for him to pass them to me. Only he didn’t. He said “come on then lovely” and expected her to follow him, it literally was only a few foot away but I was really torn with hurting the guys feelings and letting her go a few seconds away with someone we didn’t know.
It that few moments so many things went through my head, is it a tactic for diverting my attention so that some big burly bloke can pick her up and run off with her? Bearing in mind the shop was heaving and the exit is miles away from where we were. Was he just being nice and I was just being silly? His wife was smiling at me from across the way and saying “we’re not trying to pinch her”. To be honest they were both in there 90’s and had sticks to help them walk so it’s extremely unlikely they were doing anything to harm her but my mind was still suspicious.
In the end we both went over and I watched her like a hawk while they just smiled and said grandparenty things and I realised they were just being nice. Like the ones who press 20p into your kids hand and tell them to get themselves some sweets with it. You smile and say thankyou before taking it off them before they eat it!
I think in part my suspicion came from a time 10 years ago when I was taking my then 7 year old son to the dentist on the bus. Started off innocently enough, until he started fidgeting in his seat, so as you do you whisper “stop messing about will you” and my blood ran cold when he came back with “but Mum that man keeps touching me”. I swing round to find some sneering vile excuse of a human being who moved a bit sharpish when he realised I was onto him. On asking my son what had actually happened he said he had been putting his hand through the gap in the bus seat and touching his bottom. WHAT!!! Who the hell does that in broad daylight on a packed bus?! I couldn’t let it go and in the end I spoke to the bus driver who looked at me horrified and ordered him off the bus.
It haunted me for weeks, if people could do things like that when you were literally sat next to your child what would happen if you took your eyes off them, even for a second? My son didn’t walk to school by himself til he hit high school, then again neither did I. Yet I see children of primary school age walk home by themselves and wonder if I’ll be more lenient with my other two? Very doubtful I think.
Have you had any experiences that have changed the way you see the world?