— I didn’t know what to suggest to this dad, so please weigh in! – L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: I’m writing to share what happened to my daughter and me last night and to ask you and/or your readers for suggestions on how to handle this situation if it happens again.
I’m a white father to two 7-year-old black girls. Yesterday evening, one of them was walking the dog with me when a woman stopped her car, got out, and walked toward us.
“Excuse me,” she said, pointing back and forth to me and my daughter, “but this is unusual.” She turned to my daughter and asked, “Do you know him?” “Yes,” my daughter answered. Then she asked, “Where is your mom?” And my daughter replied, “At the store.”
That should have been the end of it, but the woman kept going. “Do you need help? Should we get the police?” At this point, my daughter stopped answering her. “OK. You can stop now,” I said.
The woman then turned her attention to me. “Is she your daughter?” “Yes,” I answered, “she is my daughter.”
She still didn’t stop. “Can you prove it? Do you have any identification?”
Well, I wasn’t about to prove anything to her, nor was I going to provide any identification. (Actually, I had left my wallet at home in my car anyway.) So I said, “I appreciate your concern, but you can drop it now.” And we walked away.
I can understand someone being concerned, but I don’t know how I could have satisfied this woman, nor should I have needed to. But it’s something that could happen again, so I need suggestions on how to handle it. My objectives are to quickly defuse the situation, model for my daughter how to handle awkward situations and pushy people, and not scare my daughter. Do you have any suggestions?