But They’re All My Friends…

Trying to teach stranger-danger to our kids is not the easiest thing. We have had over 1500 Americans come to Haiti this year. There is no doubt that Rosie has befriended at least 1000 of them. She’s the first of all my children to make new friends. She’ll walk right up to you and ask you – “wanna be friends”? And immediately you’re toting her around and sharing your snack food.

Several days ago the girls were playing on the porch. Mikela and Rosie came back inside to watch TV. After a few minutes we noticed that Malaya was missing. The girls told us she was outside on the porch. But she wasn’t there. Jose yelled for her in the house. There was no answer. My mom immediately began crying. Jose and I were headed outside in opposite directions looking for her. We found two neighbors who also started yelling out – MALAYA. I kept thinking of all my kids – Malaya would be the last person to just wander off. I met Jose a block away and with tears in our eyes we knew something bad must have happened.

We started to run home so we could call 911 – and my mom was outside on the porch. Malaya had gotten sleepy and was curled up in her bed downstairs. She didn’t hear us yelling because she was asleep. My heart had never raced so fast.  I had never felt such relief knowing she was okay.

I told Jose we need to really talk to the kids about strangers. I don’t think Malaya or Mikela would fall for someone giving them candy – but I do believe that Rosie would.  I know for sure Gabriel would. We sat the kids down and tried to explain to them that not everyone here is our friend. But Rosie told me – “They’re all my friends”. Having had so many strangers in our lives every year – the girls couldn’t understand that there might be people out there that would want to hurt them. Why wouldn’t they take the candy that someone offered them when they eat the snack food of the hundreds of Americans that come to Haiti each year?

It’s so easy to be friends with people in Haiti. Everyone there greets you as you walk by. We used to make jokes that people here would think we’re crazy if we said Hello to every single person we passed by in the mall. Yet in Haiti – it’s rude to not acknowledge someone walking by you.

There are four men who sit on a log outside the pastor’s house in the Mole. There were days I passed by them 6 times – coming and going to every meal. I’m not joking – even if I said hello to them 5 times that day – if I missed the 6th time – they were offended.

How do I teach my girls NOT to talk to people here in America but to greet everyone in Haiti? Doesn’t that sound so strange when you read it? We are making slow strides with the children. I’ll never forget a few years ago when Rosie was 3 years old. She was just as friendly then as she is now. I took her to the bathroom and before I knew it she had crawled under the stall and SAT ON THE LAP of a complete stranger in the bathroom stall!! LOL! SO EMBARRASSING!

We went to a restaurant a few weeks ago and Rosie was socializing with every table there. She even asked for a fry off of a table of complete strangers! She told me they were her “new friends”. Today we took the girls out and they didn’t talk to anyone. Just seems so weird that I should be happy about that.

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