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Strangers with candy

October 2, 2012 - Jennifer Brookens
"Hey, you want some candy?"

An unknown man approached my son and I after the homecoming parade with this question. While I realize this was likely a good intention on the man's part, I felt my stomach clench.

Isn't this the approach we always warn our children about? About not talking to or accepting things from strangers?

I handled it in the most tactful way possible, I held out the candy bag I was holding for my son and let the man drop the candy inside, instead of my son accepting it.

I was already sensitive to the subject, since a woman who had been standing near my son during the parade had felt he wasn't being aggressive enough to go get the candy being tossed to a bigger group of kids nearby. Imagine my shock when she, without asking or telling me, took my son's hand after the parade and led him to a big pile of candy that was being divided up by a group of adults (again, none that I immediately recognized). I had hollered for her to stop and was ready to haul off and give her what for until I realized what was happening. I was relieved at the time, but only feel anger now as I remember it.

I know these were both probably good intentions, but it unnerves and haunts me. I can't allow my son to think that it's OK to take candy from strangers or go with strangers who have candy. Yet, at the same time, isn't that what we do when people in parades throw candy at us?! And does that make me a hypocrite if I take my kids Trick or Treating?

I wrestle with this, going from "So what should we do? Ban all candy from parades?! Lighten up!" to "This could be a dangerous set-up for a predator on the prowl..."

Let's just say I know what our precedent will be in future situations. I will apologize in advance for anyone who might be offended, but my children's well-being is too much to risk for a handful of Tootsie Rolls and suckers. Or a well-meaning but misguided person's hurt feelings.


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