Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Stranger Curiosity

Forget “Stranger Danger,” my daughter is defining a new trend in children’s behavior: Stranger Curiosity.
A curious three year old is not a surprising thing. A kid that age is learning about the world, and all kinds of different questions are natural, whether they’re about earth science, how plumbing works, or who that guy walking down the street is.
Questions about strangers are normal. Usually the first people to be introduced to a child are his or her family, and they are people that the child knows all about: their name, their relation to the child, their age, and various other things that their parents choose to share with them. It’s different when talking about a stranger.

Three: “Who is that man?”
Me: “He is a stranger.”
Three: “What is his name?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Three: “Does he have a name?”
Me: “I would assume so, but I don’t know what it is.”
Three: “Who gave him a name?”
Me: “His mother, most likely.”
Three: “What is his mother’s name?” Me: "I don't know either of them, so I don't know that either." Three: "Does he love Christmas?!" Me: "I... what?"

Usually I give her all the information that she could possibly want about the people around her, so not my knowing the answers to her questions is very foreign to her. And the answer “we are not acquainted with that person, so we do not know,” is not satisfying to her, but that might just be because she doesn’t yet have a definition for the word “acquainted.”
Someday she’ll realize that Mommy doesn’t know every person in the world, and if she wants to know something about someone she’ll have to get to know them herself. And then, as my mother-in-law says, “They’ll get the third degree!”

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