Friday, 31 December 2010

Stranger danger

She runs up to one of the dad's at the soft play and asks him to build her a house out of the soft shapes. She is enthusiastic, cheerful, full of energy and oh so sociable. While her mummy is entertaining her baby sister, she is entertained by the attention of another child's dad, or mum. Later on, she will wave goodbye before leaving and say "see you again another day!"

She loves people, she trusts them without reservations. She will say hello to everyone passing by her house. Whenever the phone rings, or the doorbell, she absolutely has to say hello, or she'll be engulfed by tearful sadness. She thrives on adult attention and interaction, and connects so easily and charmingly to anyone willing to look at her.

It has been noted that she has no awareness of stranger danger. We, her parents have been advised that they should make her aware of the danger of strangers.

Herein lies the conundrum.

We are asked to destroy her innocence, her unwaivering belief in the goodness of every person. We are asked to instill fear into her.

While I understand why this is a responsible thing to do, I also understand why this is equally an awful thing to do. I remember a teacher of mine who made us explore the meaning of fear. He then continued to ask us for the antithesis of fear. It was trust - and how essential it was that trust was to prevail over fear. It's a lesson I still remember because I saw a lot of truth in it. Like an epiphany I realised how trust conquered fear and made the world a better place to live in.

There is a whole life ahead of her where she will have to decide whom she can or cannot trust. For now, she is protected by us and can rest assured that whomever we trust, she can trust as well. It is a gift. Her innocence and trustworthiness is a reminder of what things could be like in a better world.

And we're meant to make this evaporate into thin air? I cannot, for now, bring myself to doing this.
There's still time isn't there? Can she not be innocent for a little while longer?
Then, how will we know that the time has come to tell her how cruel and evil this world can be?



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