Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cookies from Strangers

When hanging out with my boy, I never know when the next teaching opportunity will turn up. Last night, after my son's soccer practice, we stopped at the mall and were buying cookies on our way to the car. A young woman (older teenager?), who seemed a little drunk/high or otherwise "off" and was hanging onto her boyfriend, left him sitting on a bench and cut in front of us in line at the counter. She asked for a bag of cookies, stood at the counter and ate one, then studied my son for a moment and handed the bag to him. "Eat it!" she commanded (and I'm not exaggerating her tone). My son was confused and timidly accepted the bag (but didn't eat the cookies), and I took it away from him. The young woman was still standing there and watching us, so I gave her the bag and said, "He can't have these, but thank you anyway." She then shuffled back to her boyfriend on the bench, and we made our purchase. On our way back to our car, I told my son I'd given the cookies back because we don't take food from strangers -- just the people who work behind the counter(s) of the restaurants we visit. (Of course, the gal and her boyfriend happened to be walking a few yards behind us.) The incident wasn't extreme, and the gal was probably harmless, but the situation seemed strange enough that I felt a tad uncomfortable, and it was yet another chance to teach the kiddo about another aspect of dealing with strangers. I don't want to teach him to be terribly fearful, but I'd rather he err on the side of caution. What a fine line to walk.