When do children become desensitized? How much talk of "Don't talk to strangers" is too much?
We have tried to strike a balance between informing our children with the information they need to keep them safe in a way that will not make them so terrified they will not want to leave the house.
One of the things that was hard for me to do was let them go to the restroom alone in public places. If it was just Luke and me, we would go into the ladies' room. If it was Jack and Luke and me and no family restroom, I would send Jack and Luke into the men's room together and stand outside until they came out, listening at the door for any suspicious noises.
So the other night when we were out to dinner and Luke had to go number 2, John did the honors and took him to the men's room. He was taking really long and we were close to the restroom so John left him in there. My line of sight only allowed me to see the top of the door opening and closing, though John could see who was coming in and out.
I gave John the "Are you sure?" look. He replied he was giving Luke 2 minutes and then would go check on him. Jack was seemingly oblivious playing his Nintendo DS.
I stared at the little piece of doorway, waiting for it to open and bring my boy safely back to me. It opened. I looked at John. "Just an old man going in," he said.
"Probably someone looking for children to steal," said Jack, never looking up from his DS.
I didn't know whether to bust out laughing or run for the restroom. Did Jack really think every person heading for the restroom was a potential kidnapper? But he didn't seem too worried about his brother, never missing a beat of gameplay. So had we desensitized him to the potential dangers of strangers, or had we made him afraid of everyone?
The old man came out and I sent John to get Luke. He was fine and felt like a big man having done the deed alone. He went back to playing DS, and I went back to praying I will be able to keep my children safe.
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