As we were putting dinner on the table, my husband was singing (please don’t ask me why) the theme from the TV show COPS—“Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”
N got a puzzled look on her face, then asked, “Dada, why are they going to come for the bad boys?”
Dada and Mama exchanged quick “how are we going to explain this?” glances.
Dada replied, “The police man will come get the bad boys.”
I added, “But not really little boys—just bad men.”
With a serious look, N asked, “Bad men?”
“Yes, honey,” I continued cautiously, knowing this was N’s first time hearing that a grownup could be bad. “Like…if somebody goes around pushing people in the park, that person is being bad. The police man will come get them and take them away so they don’t hurt anybody anymore. Police men and women help keep us safe.”
“Yes, police men and women are nice and they will help you,” Dada said.
Our conversation reminded me how complex our adult world is, and how innocent N is at the age of 2½. I recalled a “Stranger Safety” class we attended a few months ago (http://www.ape-strangerawareness.com) in which the presenter explains to a room full of parents and kids (ages 4 and up) how to handle it when a stranger approaches. N was too young to grasp the concepts, but I’m glad we attended to prepare ourselves for a time when she is old enough to understand and needs guidance from us.
The “Stranger Safety” class handout says that “stranger safety is not about being scared—it’s about teching our children how to be very careful when approached by strangers.” I have to agree—it can be a scary world, but while part of our job is preparing her to be safe, another part is teaching her how to be empowered and not to live in fear.
And, of course, teaching her the words to the classic theme song from COPS.
Oh great, now I have it in my head… “bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do when they come for you…”