Friday, July 19, 2013

Alarming Situation

Grace and Charlotte spend most of the day outside. They come inside only to eat, get something to drink and to occasionally slam a door in the other's face - fun times.

But like most places around the country, it is hot. Like triple digits hot. While this hasn't deterred them much from going outside, it certainly isn't my cup of tea. Throw in the fact that I saw a snake in the yard last week and I pretty much never need to go outside ever again.

In order to lure the girls indoors, I planned a small little craft activity. They liked it but after about an hour, Grace was ready to head back outside. As Charlotte, wasn't quite done, Grace asked if you could go outside by herself to play with the dogs.

By mid to late afternoon, the puppies have figured out that if they go to the backyard, they will have plenty of shade. So Grace going out to see the dogs by herself didn't worry me because she'd be in the backyard.

When Charlotte was finally ready to join her big sister and the puppies, not 15 minutes later, we found Grace in the front yard. She was playing with the puppies. All was well...

And then Grace stated talking about the guy who came in a white van and gave the dogs treats...


Hearing the word stranger, Grace immediately freaked out and clammed up. We've had almost daily talks about strangers and what to do if a stranger ever tried to take her. I could see the wheels turning in her head and she kept saying that 'he wasn't a stranger.' I could tell she didn't want to get in trouble so I pushed her with questions in a very calm manner.

What color was his truck? Had we seen him before? What color was his car? It wasn't a car. Ok, was it a truck? Not a truck either. Ok a van? Did he talk to you? What did he say? Have you seen him before?  Answering easy questions with me not getting upset put her somewhat at ease. She then told me he was fixing something and I told her to show me. Long story short, it was the meter reader. Nonetheless, it scared me. For several reasons.

1. Grace didn't react to a stranger the way I had hoped she would. In her defense, I doubt the meter reader tried to "take her" but still. A stranger is a stranger and she is now on notice to run inside when ANYONE approaches. Even if it is her grandmother! If nothing else, to not get hit by the car and to notify me that someone is at the house.

2. In our old house, no matter where you were, you could see or hear any car that approached/entered the driveway. In this house, you can only see a car approach in one room and you can't hear a thing! Had the meter reader been an 'evil doer' he could have driven up, thrown Grace in the car and she'd be gone with out a trace. A parent's worst nightmare.

Thankfully, nothing bad happened but this situation has brought to my attention areas that wee need to work on. Obviously, we need to talk more about strangers - the definition of stranger and what to do if one approaches. I think in her mind a stranger is similar to the quintessential monster lurking under the bed - clearly identifiable. I almost want to stage an intervention by asking a friend to approach her with candy or a puppy and then throw her in a car just to freak her out so she learns it is better to be mean and rude and alive, than taken or dead. But that's a bit too heavy for a 4 year old...right? I probably need to accompany them each and every time they go outside - which if anyone has a yard and kids knows that just isn't practical. Burdensome maybe but I would never forgive myself for doing the dishes while my kid was being kidnapped right from under my nose. Clearly, we need a gate or a fence of some kind but that isn't in the cards at the moment. I AM going to install a system that will alert me when someone enters the driveway. Kind of like a doorbell but it will ding anytime anyone or anything crosses into the driveway. As I am home alone with the girls often, this is probably a good thing.

The point is you can't be too careful and like my dad says, "Dead is forever." I share our scary incident to remind you to talk with your kids AGAIN about strangers. And when you are done with that conversation, have another. Better to be save than sorry.

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