A Stranger Offered Candy to My Kids

When a stranger does something that’s not PC but not dangerous, do you give them grace to be imperfect? Or do you respond with sharp, disapproving criticism?

We all agree that we don’t want strangers offering candy to our children. Whether it’s been tampered with or just a means to manipulate a child’s affections, you just don’t do it.

That’s why I was caught off guard when this countrified older gentleman asked if he could give Micah and Katie a treat. We were at the park letting them blow off some steam after an intensely boring meeting with our CPA. The old man at the park seemed kind and safe enough. He willingly pushed Micah on the swing while pushing his own grandson.

I got a good sense of him, and chose to give Micah some space to interact with this man without interference. I hovered at a respectful yet watchful distance.

Sometime later, the man pulled a box of Altoids out of his shirt pocket and asked me, “They can have one of these, can’t they?”

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So okay, maybe he didn’t go the super creep route and ask my kids directly. Point, old guy. He did ask permission and he seemed to think nothing of it. I was less concerned about his intentions than I was the thought of giving our children some chemicals and artificial sweeteners. I responded as graciously as I knew how in the moment: “Oh, they better not. Thanks.”

He smirked a judgmental smirk that told me, You’re one of those uptight parents who rob their kids of all the little joys in life.

He walked away and I felt like I’d failed to be gracious. He had nothing but good intentions, but his worldview had no room to recognize that something might actually be wrong with his offer.

It’s my aim to help build a better culture in this town, one day at a time. Today wasn’t one of my better days, but I’m encouraged to see that there are still strangers who are kind to other people’s children.

By Daniel Dessinger

Daniel founded CultureFeast in 2005, co-founded Mommypotamus in 2009, and writes frequently about self-awareness.

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