Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lesson unlearned

You know those things that you say over and over to your kid, thinking that there is absolutely no way he could forget it? Well they CAN forget and WILL forget it.

A few years ago, we were at the science center here in town, and we were out in the animal discovery part checking out the meerkats. They have these short little tunnels kids can crawl into with a big bubble window on the end, so they can look at the meerkats on their level.

Biscuit was about to crawl into one of the tunnels when a pretty red-headed lady said (loudly enough for him to hear), "Griffin! Come over here. You can see them better from over here."

And what did Biscuit do? He walked straight toward the stranger without a second thought. She was actually calling HER son, who shares Biscuit's name.

The day before ... THE DAY BEFORE ... I had talked to Biscuit about strangers and how he could talk to anyone he wanted if Jeff and I were with him, but he should not talk to anyone he doesn't know if we aren't around.

But of course, it's not black and white with him.

"But mom," Biscuit said, and I could see the wheels turning in his little head, "What if we're talking about the animals, and I have an animal fact I can share?"

His other exceptions included:

- How can I get to know somebody if I don't talk to them?
- What if my grandparents are with me? Cousins? Aunts or uncles?
- What if it's a police officer or firefighter? Or doctor, nurse, etc.

The gray area is always the toughest hurdle because you cannot possibly think of all the exceptions to such a thing. I want to say to him, "Just use your common sense," but his common sense is still in development.

I try to be as clear as I can during these talks, but after that, I just have to hope that I've imparted some kind useful of knowledge.

A friend of mine won four tickets to a local water park last week, and Labor Day was the last day the park was open. My friend only has one child, so she asked if Biscuit would like the fourth ticket. Biscuit has never been to a water park before, but when I asked him, he jumped up and down and yelled, "YES!"

We've been promising him a play date with that friend for a while and haven't been able to work it out, so I don't know if the excitement was more for the water park or that he was finally going to get to play with his friend.

That morning, we got Biscuit dressed in his bathing suit and shirt and his water shoes. We packed him a towel, change of clothes and sunscreen. I'm telling him that he can say no if any of the rides or slides are too scary for him. You know, all the usual safety stuff.

And speaking of safety, Biscuit has memorized mine and Jeff's cellphone numbers. I had written our numbers on the back of one of my business cards and put it in the outer pocket of his school backpack. He decided on his own that he should memorize them. And of course, I made a big fuss over his effort.

So before he left for the water park, I asked Biscuit, "Now what happens if you get separated from them or if you get lost?"

I was absolutely convinced of what his answer would be. But I was wrong!

Biscuit sort of looked around the room with a blank look on his face and said, "Um ... panic?"

"NO!" I said, trying to keep a straight face. "That is the absolute LAST thing you should do."

I swear, I wanted to shake him. After all the times we've had this discussion, and his answer is to panic!

He quickly realized his mistake and tried to pretend like he was joking.

"Oh ... Mom ..." Biscuit said. "I was just joking about that. I know what to do. I remember, Mom."

"Then what do you do?" I asked him.

"I find someone who works there and tell them your phone number, right?" he said.

"That's exactly right," I said. "And DON'T PANIC!"

Biscuit has a treat after a hard day's work at the water park.

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