What's weird, is that when you're a teacher, kids can sense it. They just ... come up and talk to you. They just know, somehow, that you understand how they see things. So when I'm in public, I feel like I practically have to hide from strange kids, so that the mother or father doesn't yell, "Don't talk to strangers!"
Last year, and this drove me nuts, a mother literally chased me through two WalMart aisles, insisting that she knew me. We had discovered that we did NOT know each other, but she continued to interrogate me, to the point where I was about to tell her to go on her merry way. I just knew we had nothing in common and that we'd never met. I could tell she was doing something manipulative, and it was pissing me off because I didn't know where she was going with it.
But when you're a piano teacher, you have a certain public image to uphold, just in case, you know? One of those things is to be nice to every parent you meet in the community.
So I tried to be pleasant as possible, and you know what she did?
After, literally, ten minutes of chasing me with questions and not letting me go on with my shopping, her daughter started talking to me.
THEN, she yelled at her daughter for talking to me. "Don't talk to strangers, not even if Mommy talks to them!"
So, basically, this lady hounded me, bothered me, for the sole purpose of teaching a lesson to her daughter.
I was pissed. If her daughter hadn't been with her, I would have given her a piece of my mind. Don't use and manipulate me to teach your daughter a lesson. Period.
Anyway, I'm even more leery of talking to kids in public, now. They approach me, but I end up avoiding their eyes. It's weird. I hate it. Why can't I just talk to them?
What's worse, is that if you don't talk to the child who approaches you, parents will think you unfriendly. Some parents will actually think better of you if you have a conversation with their child.
It's the same with hugs and touching. There's a local elementary teacher who gives each child a lipsticked kiss every Friday afternoon. I am SO jealous of her. I abide by all the "rules" of don't touch a kid. Don't hug them.
And who gets hurt? The kid. Sometimes they need a hug. Sometimes just a touch on the shoulder would do so much.
But if the cost is some wacko taking it too far, I guess I'm okay with no hugs.
I do touch their hands. That's breaking the rules, but tough. I can't figure out a way to make them use the correct form and technique, without teaching them how to use their muscles.
Still. It's sad, what society has come to, sometimes.
I think it might be worse in Ohio, but then, Ohio is number one for child abductions by wackos. Scary, that.
And you know what? Grown-ups are so damn complicated. There's a reason I spend all day just talking to kids. Their rules are so much easier, and they make a hell of a lot more sense. If I have to talk to a stranger, I'd much rather it be a child.