Gav is hitting "that" age -- the one where I have to decide between sending him to the men's room alone or dragging him into the women's room with me. His six going on seven, meaning that I'm rational going on paranoid-obsessive.
Is there anyone lurking in there? Is some pervert waiting for a trusting mom to send her son in to him? Will Gavin know enough to scream and run? Or will he be just too frightened to act? How much trouble will I get in if I open the door to check on my son's safety?
Wait, do I really care about how much trouble I might get in? Not really.
I stand right outside the bathroom door, ready to leap to action and kill anyone who looks at my son "funny" and makes him nervous.
Well, really, they don't have to make him nervous. Making me nervous is about all it will take for me to push that door open and charge in. While I haven't yet, have no doubt about it, I will should I feel the need. (I've chased my son into men's dressing rooms at department stores when he was a curious toddler, so a men's restroom isn't particularly intimidating.)
It should be noted at this point that Gavin -- in spite of training by parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and teachers -- says that he "knows" what to do when approached by a stranger. He will hit him with a baseball bat. Throw him under a car. Run him over. Brake a table over his head. Throw the cat in his face. And, finally, feed him to monsters.
THEN he will run.
(No wonder I get nervous.)
Other mothers share their stories with me, which does not help. While I realize that it's good to be aware, why does every story seem to have an evil stranger haunting it?
Frankly, excluding this, I'm a pretty happy-go-lucky chick. I believe that people are generally good at heart and that more of them are likely to help than to hurt. I think that things tend to turn out right, even when it seems that they won't. I talk to strangers, and I smile at people on the street if we make eye contact. I am, probably, the sort who some would say is bound to end up on a milk carton someday.
When it comes to conferences, I hop on planes and head to big cities all by myself. Airports are adventures just waiting to happen -- so much so that I make it a point to change planes whenver possible and pick layovers in states I've yet to visit. When I drive to conferences, I seek out local mom-and-pop restaurants and invite other conference attendees. I've been known to close bars with my closest friends as well as those I met at meetings that morning. And if there's a club to be found, I'll be there.
Ah, and the stories! The culture! To be with people from other worlds who look at everything so very differently then you, whose economic systems were so defining in their lives (uh, yeah, I should probably mention that I meet the bulk of these folks at economics conferences)... it's really quite the drug to me.
I want Gavin to be like that, and he's showing signs of it already... well, that is, when he's not hiding behind me because he's shy around g-i-r-l-s. He, too, looks at everything as an adventure and won't hesistate to ask questions (unless it's a "do you want to come over and play" question, which is another blog for another day).
The trick is to teach him when to talk and when to run without terrifying him into avoiding all strangers, to teach him how to trust his gut in situtations without actually putting him in those situations to learn what a "gut feeeling" feels like.
In the meanwhile, I'll stand outside of the men's room, ready to charge at the first sign of danger. Real or imagined.