November 2012, Wyatt is 6 1/2, Duncan is 3 1/2.
Wrapping up a long conversation with the kids about strangers, I say, “So, now you guys know not to get in a car with a stranger, right?”
“Right!” they say.
“Not even if they say they have candy, right?” I say.
“Right!” says Duncan.
“Of course I wouldn’t just get in the car….” Wyatt scoffs. “I would always ask to see the candy first.”
“Wait… what?” I am caught off guard. This was not a part of my lesson.
“Because bad guys don’t tell the truth, so if there’s really candy, we know it’s a friendly stranger,” Wyatt says.
“No, no, no, no, no, you never, ever, EVER, get in a car with a stranger, not ever. Not even if you can see they have candy.”
“Because… it might be like, trick candy?” Wyatt says.
“Or yucky candy!” Duncan chimes in.
“Sure, or-“ I start.
Wyatt interrupts, “What if a stranger SAID they had candy, but it was really poop in a wrapper?”
Duncan laughs appreciatively, “Mommy puts Marley poop in a bag. That is yucky!”
“You guys, you guys, listen! You just don’t go with a stranger anywhere, for ANY reason. Period. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what they say they have or what they actually have. If a stranger tries to get you to go with them, you run and tell Daddy and me right away.”
“Why?” Wyatt asks.
“Because… um, because… if someone is a stranger, you don’t know whether they are safe people or not. Most people are good people, but some people aren’t.”
“Why?” he asks again.
“Because their brains don’t work right or they get mixed up in their thoughts in a way that makes them confused and unsafe. They might do bad things.” I am struggling here. I want them to be frightened enough to be safe, but not so much to cause anxiety.
“Like what?” he wants to know.
“Like, well, like hurt you or take you away from me forever.” I have said it. They will probably have nightmares for weeks.
The Wyatt asks, “But what if they have an awesome house? Like with lots of kids and a laboratory in the basement?”
”And lots of toys?” Duncan asks.
“You could come visit us-” Wyatt says.
“No, Wyatt! You don’t go with a stranger ever. Okay?”
“Okay…” he aquiesces.
“Oh-tay!” he says with a nod and a grin.
“But… what if they have a robot?” Wyatt says.
“But, you know, I’m really into robots-” he says.
“-and if they were bad guys, I would just program the robot to capture them! And then we would have our own robot!”
“Yeah! I like robots! And candy!” Duncan is now jumping up and down with excitement.
And this is the point at which I give up and start searching the web for child-containment products.