Posted by: DD | June 1, 2008

PROTECTING THE PRICELESS

Last night while XBoy finished up his bath, the following conversation (out of no where) took place:

XBoy: I don’t want to tell you…

Me: [confused look]

XBoy: I don’t want to tell you…

Me: Tell me what?

XBoy: I don’t want to tell you that something bad happened today at day care.

Me: Bad in what way?

XBoy: I don’t want to tell you.

Me: Did you get into trouble?

XBoy: No.

Me: Did some one else get into trouble?

XBoy: No.

Me: Well, if no one got into trouble, you shouldn’t be afraid to tell me what happened. I’ll listen.

XBoy: [After more stalling from him and more coaxing from me] One of the teachers [he calls the staff “teachers”] brought a video camera…[he halts].

Me: [The hair is standing up on my neck] What did she do with the video camera?

XBoy: She videotaped me dancing.

Me: [Pupils dilating] Did Gay (the Director) know?

XBoy: Yes. It was me and some of the older kids. They played some music and then we were dancing and she videotaped us.

Me: [Still trying not to freak out or jump to any weird conclusions] Why did she do this?

XBoy: We thought it be fun.

Me: Did you have fun?

XBoy: Yes…

Me: Why did you not want to tell me? Why do you feel sad about it?

XBoy: Because I told them a lie and said Grandpa taught me how to dance.

Me: [Relaxing] You are upset because you lied? Did someone else say that their Grandpa had taught them to dance?

XBoy: Yes. Now I feel bad.

We talked more about it and got him to snap out of the funk by having him picture either of his Grandpas getting down and finally he smiled again and all was forgotten (I will still ask Gay on Monday about it, though, just to make sure everything is on the up and up), but I was nearly faint with fear, imagining the worst. It’s something that happens at different stages and for different reasons in parenting.

Stories of missing children or crimes against children will induce a sleepless night (or nightmares when I do sleep). The other day a news show interviewed a man about the time he was raped when he was just seven by his high school friend. I couldn’t stop crying. XBoy will be seven too soon and I just couldn’t understand how any one could victimize a child of that age. Of any age, for that matter.

These thoughts come to the forefront any time we need to get a baby sitter. We’ve been offered the services of our friend’s teenage son, and while I trust the parents and their son, I just cannot get past my paranoia. I even know that something could happen with a girl as well, but we can’t become hermits so I push through those unfounded fears.

We’ve had casual talks with XBoy on different occasions about physical contact and who is allowed to see his body. He knows that his doctor can see him (with either Mom or Dad present) and us. That’s it. If some one asks, even is teacher or nurse at school, he knows then that they must get our permission.

But not long ago, I realized that it wasn’t enough to explain that his  body was private. Everyone’s  body is private. So I addressed the issue from another angle, one that I rarely hear: have you ever seen some one else’s __________? Thankfully, the answer was no (outside of Dad’s – at the appropriate times, e.g. showers/bathrooms/etc.). I made sure then to explain what he should do if any one ever tried and who he should tell. I’m glad I did because he did not grasp how the two scenarios were basically the same.

While I try to tell myself that the liklihood any of my fears coming to pass are slim, I always remind myself that  is when it happens; when the parents, the neighbors, the community least expect it.

 

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Responses

  1. Geez, my heart was in my freaking throat!!! Glad it was just something that simple, but you are ever so right, I worry all the time about stuff like this, it keeps me up at night to. It is sad that we even have to have these talks with our kids, but I know for a fact that they really help should something hapeen!! Hang in there, it sounds like you have it all under control!!!

  2. Heart rate can return to normal now. Phew.

    I would not trust a male babysitter. That’s horrible and if I weren’t a mom, I’d feel bad about it if I weren’t a mom. Hell, my husband babysat some as a teenager. But nope, I wouldn’t do it. But then again, I also haven’t worked up the guts to leave my daughter at the child center at the gym either.

  3. While it is scary to think about (and probably to talk about), I’m glad you do. It is important he knows these things so he won’t become a victim. That he knows right/wrong.

  4. Yup heart definitely in mouth at the beginning. I haven’t had these talks with L yet as she is not yet 5 – other than reminding her no one else needs to see her underwear. I will need to soon though. I dread it.

  5. My heart was in my throat reading this post. I breathed a sigh of relief at the end.

    Because of a male babysitter I had as a girl I have never been able to trust people with my children and have made it my Mom Mission to keep my boys as safe as I can.

    From the time I thought they were old enough to understand my boys were told about inappropriate touches at an age appropriate level. I told them that anything their bathing suit covered was private and theirs alone. Like you I told them it was OK for the doctor or nurse to examine them as long as Sgt or I were present. Some people my think we’re paranoid mothers but I’d rather be paranoid then have my child be a victim.

  6. It’s so hard to know how to talk to them about these things without completely freaking them out… there are some great ideas in your post and in the comments and it’s a needed reminder to me that I need to update our talk on this subject as he’s getting older and spending more time away from me!

    And I’m with you on the male babysitters. I’m sure 99% of them are okay, but I still worry a bit more about their motivations than I do about the motivations of female babysitters.

  7. Gave me a near heart attack! If we as parents don’t explain these things to our kids, how else will they know what is ok and what isn’t? It sure does suck that we even have to, but that’s the time we live in. Good job not freaking out, momma!

  8. I know it is not PC, but I will never trust a male babysitter. A teacher from my daughter’s preschool that was arrested for possession of child porn (teenage asian girls, but still) was male, and I just can’t stomach it. Nothing ever happened at the school (thank god for parent-participation schools and completely open floorplans with multiple teachers in each room!). The investigators told the parents of the school that males were predominantly the ones involved in child porn, BTW. I know women perpetrate all forms of abuse, too, so it’s just a mind fuck trying to keep our kids safe. It’s always been around, it’s just so much more publicized these days.

    And while I know it’s out there, and it crosses my mind every day, I think the time we need to start to fear is when we let our guard down, or when we don’t take the time to check in with our children every day to see what is happening in their lives, to keep those honest, non-judgemental communication lines open (good job there, Mom! You did great!!). Too often children are not believed or ignored when they do express concerns, and it is so sad.

    I am so glad what you experienced was only what it was, and nothing more. (whew!)

  9. oh my gosh. i was not breathing for the first part of your post!!! I hate that this is a crazy f’ed up world where our children are not automatically safe. that is why I plan on being one of those psycho mothers who never lets her children out of sight. I figure as long as I pay for the years of counseling they will need later, it’s ok, right? (I’m only kidding!)

  10. The conversation definitely had my heart racing. News stories (and sadly, personal stories of things that have happened to friends and children of friends) have always both broken my heart and made me sick at the horrible things people can do to children. Now that I have Aiden (and another on the way) I am absolutely scared to death every time I hear some horrible story of another victimized child or an Amber Alert on the news, imagining the horror those parents are living at the moment. I know we can’t protect our children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week but lately I’ve been giving homeschooling a lot more thought.


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