The Bad Stranger

The hot tub at the Y is full of moms, defrosting babies. The Girl & I squeeze ourselves into a spot on the edge of the tub. A big-eyed, gorgeous little boy is staring at us. His mom is too, but more subtly, from under lowered lids. My daughter engages the boy in a game of peek-a-boo. He comes closer. I realize this little boy now has one hand around my neck, and is lazily running the other up and down my right arm. I’m accustomed to having children’s hands on me all day. My children’s hands, though. I smile at him politely. His mom sees what he is doing.

“No. No that is a stranger. We don’t get too close to strangers.”

I say nothing, continue to smile politely. This woman is trying to parent, and I will stay silent (do unto others…).

“Why do we stay away from strangers?”

“Because even though not all strangers are bad, a lot of them are. And they would do very, very bad things to little boys. A lot of very bad things.  Especially to cute little boys like you.”


We get up to go to the locker room.

“Bad stranger”, the little boy stage-whispers at my back.

His mom doesn’t say anything.

Really, lady? Need I remind you, it was your toddler feeling a woman up in a hot tub?


3 responses to “The Bad Stranger

  1. This story scares me on a deep level, parent level. Poor kid. I wonder what he’s watching on TV.


  2. I know. I couldn’t believe how long she kept going on about it. In my (limited) experience, the shortest answer is always the most effective with the under 3 crowd.

  3. Pingback: All Day Sucker | Praying to Darwin

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