Our DD is a lovely, bright 8 year old, who is not at all shy. When we're at church, she has conversations with just about any adult that approaches us. She can take and dish out a fair amount of teasing. She is not a kid who "wilts" when provoked.
Today at church, "Gary," a man in his fifties whom we know casually, came up to DD, put his finger near her neckline (I hesitate to say chest because he was no where near an inappropriate area.) and said, "You've got something on your dress." She, of course, looked down and when she did, he tweaked her nose. Typical older guy joke on kids. I don't believe there was any ill-intent.
Only DD didn't laugh. She looked up at him with a completely blank expression and just stared at him. This lack of reaction seemed to make Gary uncomfortable and he sort of huffed, "Well, you could at least smile
DD, in a very cool, but civil, tone said, "I didn't think it was funny."
Gary made a comment about DD not being in a very good mood. He looked to DH and I, apparently expecting some response on our part. DH bean-dipped, bringing up some item of church business. I gave DD a squeeze and told her to go on to her children's program.
A few minutes later, when Gary was elsewhere, DH said he was, "this" close to apologizing on DD's behalf because he felt that Gary was embarrassed by DD's reaction. But he decided not to, since DD handled the situation fairly politely.
I said that I was glad he didn't for two reasons.
1) Gary got in DD's personal space bubble. DD is enrolled in martial arts classes, a strong component of which is being aware/protective of your personal space bubble. The instructor has told the students over and over that they have the right to decide who gets in their bubble and how to protect that space. Contradicting that to make Gary more comfortable seems counter-intuitive and sets a bad precedent.
2) I don't think kids should be taught to "humor" people who criticize their emotional responses to teasing/conversation/requests. If you're not amused or comfortable, you shouldn't have to pretend you are to protect some else's feelings or ego. ETA: I put this right up there with men who tell strange women on the street to 'SMILE!' if their expression isn't cheerful enough. It's not up to those women to be more decorative or happy in order to make the man more comfortable.
Later, before we left, Gary was near us again, and tried to do "Got your nose!" on DD. But this time she saw him coming and did an impressive duck-sidestep-step-around evasive maneuver that only proved that the money we're spending on martial arts is paying off.
Gary "gave up" and left DD alone. Later, DD said she wasn't upset, she just didn't want her nose pinched. I told DD that she handled it just fine, and that Gary may tease her more now that he feels like making DD laugh is challenge. I told her to come to me or DH if he ever makes her uncomfortable. DD said it was fine and if he was funny, she would laugh. But she wouldn't fake it.
I'm pretty sure we're safe, etiquette-wise, but I always like to double-check here. So my questions are:
1) Were DH and I right in choosing not to apologize for DD's lack of response to Gary's jokes?
2) Is our current course of action - letting DD choose how to respond to the jokes - appropriate?