Don’t Ever Assume Your Kids Wont Open the Door for Strangers – A Personal Account of a Frightening Experience
We always tell our kids that they should never open the door for strangers. We also think that its one of those things that our kids would never do in the first place because kids are afraid of strangers knocking on the door. Whenever we have guests coming to our house our children tend to run away when we try and introduce them to someone they don’t know. Right? Have you ever been a guest somewhere and their five year old daughter just walked over to you with their outstretched hand and said “Hi, my name is Samantha. Welcome to our home. Its nice to meet you.” It happens but its not the norm.
So not opening the door for strangers is something that we tell our children but its also something they would almost never do in the first place, except when they think its you knocking at the door.
Last week my wife and I had a frightening experience. We had a meeting to attend to at around four thirty in the afternoon and we told our kids that we wont be home until much later. We put on a video for the kids to watch and left them with the nanny.
Our meeting was across town and we had to battle rush hour traffic to get there. The ride which would normally take 15 minutes without traffic took us close to forty. Just ten minutes into the meeting our six year daughter calls me on my cell to tell me that the video stopped working and she wanted to know when we would be home. I tell her that the nanny will take care of the video and we will be home in a little while. I also told her that the meeting was important and I requested that she not call me again.
As the meeting carried on longer than we expected my wife decided that it would be appropriate to call the nanny and tell her that we will be home later than 6pm. My daughter answered the phone and told my wife that Stan was at our house and he wanted to speak with me. My wife’s jaw dropped open in shock as she turned to me and said “Stan is in our house. He wants to speak with you. What is he doing in the house?!”.
Let me provide you with a little background. Stan is a guy who comes around the neighborhood from time to time to collect some money for himself. He is around 50 years old, lives alone, and suffers from some psychiatric and other disorders. When I can, I give him some money and offer him some food. I’ve also driven him home a couple of times.
So I take the phone to speak with him. He tells me that the kids let him in the house and he wanted to know if maybe I could tell my daughter to get him twenty dollars from where we keep our spare cash in the house. Not liking that idea one bit and wanting him out of the house ASAP, I tell him that I could meet him at the library later and give him some money but he has to leave the house right away. We agree on a time and hang up the phone. Just as I hung up the phone my wife looks at me and says “arrgh, I wanted to speak to the nanny and tell her that we’ll be home after six. I also wanted to make sure everyone was ok.” So I tell her I’m sorry and hand her the phone to call back. She dials but the line is busy. The line is never busy unless the phone is off the hook. My wife turns to me and says “The phone is off the hook. We’re going home right now!”
We get in the car and try to battle rush hour traffic to get home as fast as we can. Trying to block out of our minds the worst case scenarios, we keep trying to call the house. The phone is still off the hook and we are still twenty minutes from home. My wife decides to call the neighbors as I try as hard as I can to get around the traffic mess ahead. She calls our next door neighbor and realizes that she is teaching swimming at this hour. She decides to call our other neighbor but no one is home. Still 15 minutes from the house my wife calls the first neighbor again thinking that maybe their teenage son is home and maybe he could go to our house and tell the nanny that the phone is off the hook. The son happened to be at home and tells us that he will go over right away. My wife is thankful and hangs up the phone. Two minutes later my wife tries the home line again and its still off the hook. She tries again and again but to no avail. Realizing what’s going on, I turned to my wife and said “There’s no way the nanny’s going to open the door. She’ll think that Stan came back.” My wife nods her head in agreement and says “oh you’re right. Great, what are we going to do now.” We are still ten minutes from the house. As I continue to battle traffic, my wife tries the home line again. She then calls our neighbor again but this time no one is answering the phone. You would think we were in some kind of mystery-thriller flick. Everything was just so crazy and frightening. We finally arrive home. My wife dashes out of the car and up the front steps with me right behind her. We get in the house to find our daughter sitting on the kitchen stool all shook up and the nanny with a frightened look on her face. She was trembling as she recounted to us the frightening experience.
She and the kids were in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies when at around five thirty there was a knock at the front door. My daughter, thinking we finally returned home, excitingly opened the door.
The front door to our house is solid wood with no glass panels neither on the door nor surrounding it. My wife requested that the installers insert a peephole so we could see who comes to our door. Unfortunately, the peephole is about five feet from the bottom of the door and there is no way for our children to see who is knocking.
Anyway, my daughter opened the door and in walks Stan. My daughter, not knowing what to do, retreated to the kitchen to where the nanny was standing. Stan then walks further into the house asking to speak with me. Cautiously approaching Stan, our nanny tells him that I am not home and that he should come back later. To her shock, he walks into the kitchen, sticks his hand into the bag of chocolate chips sitting on the counter, pulls out a handful and pours it in his mouth dropping chips all over the floor. He then starts opening the cupboards looking for more food. He walks over to the other counter and takes a big bite out of a stale cupcake sitting in the corner. After giving our nanny a brief glance, he then proceeded to the study at the other end of the house. It was at that moment when we called the house and I spoke with Stan. As it turned out, he left right after our conversation.
My wife turned to our daughter who was now crying and told her that she should never ever open the door again unless she knows who is knocking. My daughter was so scared. We think she learned her lesson. As parents, we are also to blame. We never really sat down with our kids properly and told them never to open the door unless they are absolutely sure they know who is on the other side and even then an adult should open the door.
Later that evening I met with Stan, gave him some money, and told him that it would be better if he not come to our house again. I explained to him that our children were simply terrified and they would be very frightened if he came back. He replied in defense “Well, your kids opened the door for me. I mean they opened the door and let me in. You know parents always get upset at me and ask me why I came into the house when their kids let me in. Kids let me in and I get yelled at. What did I do wrong?”
So I gave Stan my cell phone number and told him that if he needs some spare cash it would be better that he calls me and we schedule a place and time to meet.
In the end, thank G-d nothing serious happened. But let me just remind everyone what Stan told me that evening.
“You know parents always get upset at me and ask me why I came into the house when their kids let me in. Kids let me in and I get yelled at.”
Don’t assume your kids know not to open the door for strangers. Make sure they know and understand that even if they think its mommy or daddy at the door they must be abosolutely sure.
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