It can't be just me, right? I'm used to making small talk with kids I see around school, even ones I don't know; after all, even if I have no idea who they are, they usually know who I am, or at least know that I'm a teacher. So that's okay. But apparently I don't know how to shut it off.
I first noticed this when I was in a Panera restroom near Madison, WI, waiting in line to wash my hands. A junior high aged girl was standing there also waiting, and she was all dressed up. I automatically said, "Wow, what a pretty dress!" And she then looked at me like I had a forked tongue or something. At which point I realized, right, I'm just a creepy stranger. Good job, Denise.
Last weekend I boarded a hotel elevator where there was a 6 or 7 year old girl who was holding what seemed to be a really cool looking balloon giraffe. So I asked, "Is that a giraffe?" She leaned into her mother a bit and looked up at her. Mom, thankfully, nodded at the girl, who then said yes. I told her it was a really awesome giraffe, then kept my mouth shut.
Sometimes this goes well, though. This past week my husband and I were waiting in line for a shuttle bus to take us from the JFK Library & Museum (truly awesome place - if you're ever in Boston, you simply must put this one on your to-do list!) back to the train station. What appeared to be the worst chaperoned group of teenagers in the history of summer field trips was running around the area, and when the shuttle arrived they all crammed around the door jockeying to be the first on. My teacher voice automatically kicked in, reminding them that they needed to wait for all of the people who were trying to get off the bus first. Like a charm they all backed off and started telling each other to stay out of the way of the people who were getting off the bus.
So maybe it's okay for me to boss around children I don't know in public, just not make small talk. I suppose more research needs to be done to answer this question.
Anyone else have any similar experiences?