Skip to content

Through the Eyes of a Child

November 30, 2009

2nd Feb 2008

A wee girl sat on the wall outside the shop.

Legs swinging, eating a sweet, she watched the folk coming and going.

A pensioner emerged, clutching a few groceries, and shuffled homeward, stopping after a few yards to catch her breath.

She was followed by a ‘business type’ – a smartly-dressed young man wearing a ‘corporate’ suit, clean-shaven, hair elegantly groomed, carrying a newspaper and a leather briefcase. The wee girl’s eyes followed him as he made his way to his car parked by the kerbside.

Then a new figure caught her attention. She ran her eyes over him, taking in his shabby, unkempt appearance. He looked like a vagabond – bushy grey beard, and a baseball cap on his head from under which long straggly bits of grey hair peeked. He was wearing a pair of joggers that appeared to be covered in dog hairs and a baggy t-shirt. On his feet, he wore a pair of battered slippers. As he made to pass the wee girl on his way into the shop, she spoke ….. ‘Hello’

I was that shabby, shambling man. Afterwards, I got to wondering why the wee girl spoke to me. Surely her parents had warned her not to talk to strange men? Particularly with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann dominating the news for so many months! I did not know this wee girl and my appearance would likely have aroused suspicions about my character/motives amongst any witnesses to this encounter. So why did she initiate a conversation? Why did she not regard me as a ‘strange man’? ….(Many adults do!)

The clue lies in her opening sentence …..

‘Hello. I’ve got a new puppy’

Although I had never before met this wee girl, she had obviously seen me walking my dogs in the local park and therefore knew I would be interested to hear the news about her new puppy. Herein lies the problem for adults teaching their kids not to talk to strangers – who constitutes a ‘stranger’ in the eyes of a child. This wee girl obviously did not think I fell into the ‘stranger’ category. True, we didn’t know each other’s names. We had never previously held a conversation but, I was a ‘weel-kent’ (familiar) figure to her. She had seen me many times in the local park while she played on the swings. I was someone, she felt intuitively, that would be interested to hear she had a new puppy.

The mere fact that I was a figure she was familiar with was enough to render me ‘safe’ in this child’s eyes. I did not count as a ‘Stranger’ because she had seen me around the place a lot (I am not certain her parents would have shared that belief!)

I am sure I don’t need to spell out here the potential dangers to a young child of equating ‘familiar’ with ‘safe’. How refreshing, however, to be the recipient of this wee girl’s trust. Yes there are bad people out there, but they are a minority. What sort of society would we have in the future if we rear our children to regard every stranger as a potential threat? If we rear them to look for the bad in people rather than the good? Always to treat strangers with fear and suspicion?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. CatGod permalink
    November 30, 2009 4:38 am

    Nice story Duncan… It appears that you’ve been given a small gift of attention from this child and you handled it well… Trust from an innocent little one is a fragile thing and very precious is my mind… My wife has a gift similar to this… such that it’s very common for children to begin speaking to her every where we go… The grocery market, restaurants, shopping malls… I think it’s in her eyes – sincerity, honesty, kindness… I can’t figure out why the woman married me?

  2. November 30, 2009 9:11 am

    One to ponder on.

    But why slippers on your footies? To fecking idle?

  3. November 30, 2009 9:41 am

    Yup !!! 😳

    The shop’s only round the corner – seems hardly worth the effort changing into shoes 😆

    • November 30, 2009 5:33 pm

      You must have very regular and reliable street cleaning in your part of the world!

  4. December 1, 2009 1:37 am

    She obviously has a keen eye for pet lovers. Did you end up having a conversation with her?

    • December 1, 2009 9:01 am

      a conversation?

      Couldn’t get a bloody word in edgeways, she was that gabby

      Typical bloody woman !!! 😆

  5. December 4, 2009 10:24 pm

    Nice post. I think more people should look at it this way. As a parent, I don’t tell my 7 year-old daughter about strangers, and we live in a pretty dodgy neighborhood. Until she is old enough to really exercise judgment on the matter, it’s my job to make sure she doesn’t have to. No matter how much you try, you can’t train a kid to outsmart a pedophile, so whay make them afraid of strangers?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: