My son is an extroverted feeler. I’m an introverted thinker. He’s a bit of an alien, but then we all are, really.
When he was four we flew to New Orleans. We were waiting in our herd. It was when you were assigned to herd A, B or C to load on the plane.
My son started talking to people. He went up to a stranger and held out his hand. The stranger shook it, slightly bemused.
“Hi,” said my son, “I’m (name). I live at (address). My phone number is (number). What’s your name? Where do you live? Would you like to come visit?”
The stranger answered in a rather bemused way and my son moved on to the next person and repeated the conversation. He worked his way through most of the herd by the time the plane loaded.
Even though I thought it was hilarious, I also thought we should have a talk about “bad strangers”. I waited until we were at the hotel in New Orleans. I said that it wasn’t always a good idea to tell strangers one’s name and address because some of them might be bad. He was quite enthralled by the idea that there might actually be a “bad stranger” that he might actually meet.
That night we ate dinner in a section of New Orleans that the hotel concierge sort of warned us about going in to after dark. Afterwards my husband went to meet a friend and listen to music.
My son had recently acquired a plastic bow and suction tip arrows. He had taken it seriously and had already gotten quite good at shooting them. He did not have them with him loading on to the plane, but of course brought them to dinner in New Orleans. Our understanding, I hoped, was that shooting them at people would result in immediate loss of bow and arrow privileges and result in confiscation.
So after dinner my husband had left and I was walking back to the hotel, a five foot two, 130 lb female, with a four year old who was holding a suction cup bow and arrow. Loaded and ready. I would describe my mood as alert, especially when my son started talking quite loudly. He was on the alert too.
“I hope we meet a bad stranger. I’m ready for them. I’ll shoot them with my arrow. I’m ready. No bad stranger will bother us.” He continued in this vein all the way back to the hotel.
As we walked through the fairly dark streets back to the hotel, I hoped that the “bad strangers” were too busy laughing in the alleys to bother us. No one did bother us.
And that’s how my extroverted feeler son learned about “bad strangers”.
First published in 2009 on another website. For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: stranger. I took the photograph quite a few years ago.