Posts Tagged ‘slime balls’

Don’t talk to strangers

26 March 2013

The tiny flowers that look like snow

The edges of the sidewalk up at the northern end of Grand Ave. have recently become speckled with sprinkles of white. It looks like a little bit of snow hanging on in the last cold days of spring, or the salt sometimes used to make such snow melt at a lower temperature.

But it’s neither of those things; it’s a white-flowered ground cover. I picked one of the flowers the other day and brought it home and looked at it under the microscope. It’s a four-petaled flower only 5mm across (that’s about 3/16 of an inch). There seem to be more than 4 stamens, though. The foliage is dark and looks a little like a succulent, or like bedstraw (a wildflower used as ground cover). I haven’t figured out for sure yet what it is. Walking along, you can’t really tell it’s a flower. Just something white sprinkled on the ground.

tiny spring flower

Our tiny roadside spring flower.

Don’t talk to strangers

A few days ago I saw a girl walking up Grand as I was walking down Grand after work. She looked a little worried or something. Then I saw, up Terre View to the west, a little boy – her little boy. She waited for him at the corner then walked home with him.

The next day (or the day after) I saw him again. He was walking home himself this time, and he took the “shortcut” up to the first level parking lot of my building. Did he live in the Glendimer?

And not soon after that I saw him again. He looked at me like he kind of recognized me, and climbed up the rock at the mini-park at the corner and said, “king of the mountain!” and smiled at me. We walked together for a while, then I asked him if he lived up there in those buildings and he said yes. I told him I lived there, too. I said something else – forget what – and he answered but said, “but you’re a stranger, and I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.” “It’s good they’re teaching you that,” I said, thinking that probably wasn’t exactly true. Then I walked ahead of him and crossed the street. But as I was getting across, he ran to the corner, and I waited for him to cross, and we walked up to his “shortcut.” “I like to go this way,” he said. “I know you do,” I said, “I go around the other way.” When I got up the driveway, he crossed my path again, then took another “shortcut” up through the juniper bushes that cover the hill between the lower parking lot and the next higher one.

Not advice for a lifetime

I wondered later if people were getting stuck with this advice that they were taught as children. I wasn’t taught this. And for good reason: It doesn’t work. Even for a child it doesn’t work. What if you’re hurt and need help? What about your first day in school when everybody is a stranger? How do you make friends? It just totally doesn’t work.

Adults do it, I figured, because they feel like children are too trusting. They haven’t developed adult discernment skills yet, so can’t tell a slime ball from someone who might be a valuable friend. But then, lots of adults can’t tell the difference, either!

The lessons they never taught me

When I was a teenager, I developed quite an upset over the fact that there was no place that taught me about people. How to understand them, how to help them, how to live with them. My parents didn’t seem to know much about this. The only real advice I got along this line was from my mother who told me once that if I got attacked by a bully I should fight back. They’d leave me alone after that. Pretty good advice.

I desperately wanted answers to why people were the way they are, and what to do about it. But just as my parents seemed a bit clueless along this line, so my schools didn’t seem to want to touch this subject with a ten foot pole.

Now they teach psychology in school. But these days, psychology isn’t really about people, either. It’s about behavior and how to control it. That’s what the people who pay psychologists have always been interested in. I don’t know if that’s what most psychologists are actually interested in, though.


What we should tell our kids, and what they deserve to be told, is that we don’t want them to make friends with adults until their parent or parents have met the person. That’s because adults have the skills to be able to tell slime balls from good people. And when they are grown up, they’ll know too, because it’s taught in school.

In fact, being able to talk to “strangers” is one of the higher of adult social skills. And a person who can turn strangers into friends can have a good, full life. One who can’t will still feel like that little boy walking home from school, not sure it’s okay to talk to that somewhat interesting old man.