A man with a young son waves in a friendly way and joins us where puppy has flopped in grassy shade. We chat briefly. He is a property manager, organising tradies for an empty rental property just over the road. When a tradie arrives, he gestures to his little boy
“Would you mind… just while I show this man in?”
I smile, disbelieving, but nod acquiescence. The little boy offers his pop top drink bottle to the puppy who licks the top obligingly. I suggest he doesn’t use the bottle for drinking anymore. He shows no sign of having understood.
The little boy seems unconcerned when his Dad disappears inside. He is only gone a few minutes but it’s enough time for me to imagine grabbing the boy, urging my children and the puppy to a run and taking off in our car which is perhaps 100 metres away – out of sight – and not connected to this address.
My own thoughts scare me, so vivid and unwanted. Why do we imagine in such detail these horrific acts we would never commit? I know in this case, it is partly horror that he trusted his son to such a stranger. Perhaps because I have children and because I am a woman, I am immediately trustworthy. Is that a fair generalisation? Some say you can trust those who are kind to animals. Some say “your face is trustworthy” (I’ve had that a few times).
Would you trust a stranger, after just a two minute conversation, to mind your little boy? I imagine his wife, years later, telling stories of the crazy things her son’s father did. Maybe she will be laughing. Maybe her hair will go grey early.
I wanted to be glad this stranger trusted me but I wasn’t. I was bizarrely angry.