My son is very friendly, even for a four-year-old. In combination with his moss-green eyes and eyelashes so long that some women would be willing to buy a prescription in order to get them, this is going to serve him very well in life. I've been dreading the day that he discovers girls (although I'm also sure that there will be some typical male ego/pride "stuff" going on, especially given my own teenage mishaps in that department). In light of my poor past performance in judging how soon something in his life was likely to become a problem, I suppose I should have known that I was in for trouble long before he hit his teens.
I first realized that I might have a situation on my hands when our neighbor told us that she was going away for the weekend and asked if LR and I would like to take care of her animals for her while she was away. She probably knew that we were an easy mark because my son loves anything which moves while I'm not a big dog fan and my wife is badly allergic to cats and refuses to even discuss reptiles, amphibians, or anything with less than two or more than four legs as a potential pet. I believe that we're permitted to have fish but I suspect that the first time we found snails in the tank would also be the time that we found the tank in the trashcan. As no dogs were involved, I quickly agreed.
After our neighbor had left, LR began tugging harder and harder on my pants leg. I asked him what was up and he said "I have something to tell Miss Chrissy. I have to tell her something!" "Well, she's right there," and I pointed across the street. "Just go ahead." I then hear my darling son scream at the top of his lungs "Miss Chrissy! Will you come over to my house later? You can sleep in my bed!!" This was definitely one of those times when I wished that I was, in fact, a stay at home mother. I suspect that this is the kind of thing that two women can laugh off a lot more easily. After a moment or two of very uncomfortable silence, we both quickly turned it into a joke about keeping him away from her daughter.
Note: For anyone unfamiliar with the "Miss Chrissy" custom, it is apparently appropriate for a child living in "the South" to address any woman over the age of eighteen or so as Miss First-Name, regardless of marital status. It's basically a middle-ground between the highly formal Miss/Mrs./Ms. Last-Name and the highly familiar usage of just the adult's first name. Given that I am a Philly boy who arrived in North Carolina about two years ago by way of Boston, if you'd like to know the details of this custom or the precise areas in which it is used you are quite definitely asking the wrong person. I've adapted simply by having him call any and all female acquaintances Miss Whoever and hoping that I get it right more than half of the time.
Luckily for me "Miss Chrissy" is a good sport.
Then came the library incident. LR and I were having a grand old time picking up some books and videos. As we started to make our way to the door, I got into a rather odd conversation with a boy of about five or six who came over and asked me how old my son was. I suggested that perhaps he should simply ask him seeing as how he's been speaking for himself since he turned one. (In actuality I simply suggested that he ask for himself, I just wanted to say all of that). The boy gave me an odd look and tried again. "He told me he was six" he said, and this time he pointed at another young boy who had been next to me at the bookshelf. I politely explained that I had no idea how old that little boy was because he wasn't my son. At this point, I got a rather long look from the boy who then decided that he really didn't want to be talking to anyone who was this unhelpful and he walked away.
My son, however, wasn't finished. Apparently, he felt that he'd been bilked out of the chance to tell someone his age as he immediately began following the boy in a vain attempt to convince him that he had, in fact, recently turned four. For a minute, LR looked a bit nonplussed at the other child's complete indifference to his age but then decided to bravely plow ahead with someone that he considered a new friend. I didn't hear all of what he said, but what I did hear was along the lines of "Would you like to come over to my house and play?" I quickly scooped up my child and headed for the door while explaining to my son that "I'm very sorry but, no, the boy we don't know won't be coming over to play later. I promise I'll call one of your friends and try to set up a playdate."
Why was I in such a hurry? Simple, I'm a guy. What was I afraid of?
"Mommy! That man over there wants to know if I can play at his house. Can I go?!!"
I can hear the 911 call already.