The ring tone on my phone is Rick Springfield's "Don't Talk to Strangers." It's one of my favorite songs by Rick, and the opening chords always take me back to 1981-82 and the happiest days of my high school years.
It's something we tell children all the time, isn't it? Don't talk to strangers, don't take candy from strangers? Raising my two, I must have said those words a million times.
Good, wise words. Don't talk to strangers.
And then there's Barney.
You know Barney the dinosaur. If you have a kid between the ages of 15 and 22, you remember Barney the dinosaur. "I love you, you love me....BLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!"
Barney imparted great nuggets of wisdom to children every day. (I still sing the clean up song to my teens.) But there was one huge gaping hole in Barney's dogma: "A stranger is a friend you haven't said hello to yet."
As if this world isn't confusing enough for little kids. Don't take candy from strangers...except on Halloween. Don't ride in a stranger's car...unless it's a carpool or a school bus. Share everything...unless it's your hat or comb and it's head lice season, and don't share drinking glasses...or shoes...or food (Someone might have an allergy and you'll kill them with your p b and J) Wait, just don't share!
We send a plethora (I love that word.) of mixed messages to our kidlings every day. And then the ONE tenant, the one cornerstone of parental wisdom, "DON'T TALK TO STRANGERS," gets blasted down by the biggest purple oracle of parenting. But Barney said a stranger is just a friend I haven't said hello to yet, mom and you want me to make friends!
So I find myself thanking Rick Springfield, again, but this time for ingraining these simple, wise words: Don't talk to Strangers!
And I'm sure he'd say this, too: Do you have your copy of "DREAM IN COLOR" yet?