It is Renaissance Faire season, and my "home" faire has opened. This means that there is a more or less public place that I shall be at, where I am not habitually shielded. I pretty much go "shields up" every time I leave my home, dropping them only when I have arrived at what feels to me is a safe place. Public spots rarely qualify. My home faire is one of those places, and I've been known to say that my faire day doesn't really start until I've been served my first hard cider and a small child has seen me and said "Look, a witch!"
This past spring, I attended two other faires and had a chance to run a small experiment. At the first one, I dressed identically to the way I've dressed at my home faire. But this one, held on an open college campus, did not say "safe" to me, and so protections stayed in place. I spoke with people, including children. Not one looked at me twice, I was a tourist faire attendee, just as they were, watching the chess match and debating the wisdom of eating a turkey leg.
The second non-home faire was held in a park, although in a somewhat enclosed area. Many of the attendees were familiar to me. I was not wearing my usual attire. I wore bright blue, with a circlet of gold flowers in my hair. But the place felt safe, so the layers of protection came down. And a little girl pointed at me and said "Mommy, a witch!"
I am glad that I do not scare these children when they really see me. But except for those rare and special places, the shields will stay in place.
4 hours ago