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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bursting my safety Bubble

I have a nightly ritual that up until recently, I wasn't aware of. Every night, without much thought , I walk around to every door and make sure its locked ( twice). I then set the home alarm. Check on each of the boys, to make sure they are not upside down in their bed or under it, or in some cases in the closet. I then travel back downstairs, check the alarm again. Before I put myself in bed I ask Don to please check on the boys and make sure the alarm is set. OCD? Maybe. Like a mother bird, I am most at peace when all my birds are in our nest.
 I believe this is when I'm at my happiest too.
This exemplifies my deep mistrust of humanity.  I am thankful to say that I have never been the victim of a home invasion, I have never been mugged and I have never been physically attacked in anyway.  What I have encountered are deceitful people who are capable of doing horrific things.  How did I know this? My gut. I don't say this lightly. I have complete trust in my intuition.  When I was 15 a childhood friend came up missing.  Her mom believed that she had ran away but I knew better, I had met her boyfriend. After a year of her still not returning I had a very vivid dream that she came to me and told me that she was dead and her boyfriend had killed her. I was really disturbed and told my parents.
 Just shortly after my senior year I had moved to Tucson to attend college and I got a phone call from my mom.  She had just seen on the news that they had found Becky, she was buried at her boyfriends Uncle's house and that her boyfriend was being charged with her murder.
In the one meeting I had with this guy, even as a young girl I didn't like him.  He was a football player, honor roll all American, who broke her neck and buried her after she told him she was pregnant.
People said he just "snapped". I think that is a nice term to make a person's behavior somewhat acceptable.
As a kid I put myself in some very compromising situations.  I was asked to get in the car with a man when I was 13. Thankfully I was with my best friend, and I grabbed her arm and ran. I have walked alone at night in the Tenderloin when I was 20. If you are not familiar with the tenderloin, it is a section of San Francisco that you wouldn't want to walk through even in the day time, and it is rumored to be named after a prostitutes (loins).  Poor judgement yes, and I knew it. Miraculously (and I don't say that metaphorically) I found my way home.
My parents were probably cozy in their bed when their daughter was roaming through a the bottom of a scum pit 2000 miles away.  My mom's ritual was to pray for her kids at night, I like to think that this particular night her prayers were answered.
These are all obvious dangers that have faced kids for a long time. A stranger, a really bad neighborhood, a person who you trusted that betrayed you.
The difference now is that I am the mother of these kids.
With the recent stories of abuse I feel helpless.  I'm torn between raising confident young men who respect authority and raising confident young men who respect themselves more.  That they are allowed to say no to a coach or any authority figure, assuring them they won't get in trouble.
I want the boys to be aware of the dangers that seemingly nice people, that Mommy and Daddy may even be friendly with can be worse than a stranger passing by who says "hello".
How do I approach this topic to boys who still believe in Santa? Who I reluctantly take to the mall every year to sit on a complete strangers lap.   How do I explain that it is not ok to sit on anyone's lap and if an adult asks you to...run.
I want them to see the best of humanity, but right now, I have a hard time seeing it myself. Pedophiles  now have more access to our children then ever before.  A pedophile doesn't need to sit on a park bench waiting for kids to play at a park, they can get what they need on the internet. 
A friend of mine recently wrote an article and explained that he was abused as a child.  I don't know why this effected me so deeply.  It slapped me in the face with the reality that it can happen to anybody and it has probably happened to someone I am close to or know.  He was right.   His article opened a conversation that Don and I had never actually had. We discuss our parenting, for the most part, as it happens. For two procrastinators, I think we do a decent job.  We decide the boys boundaries based on how mature we think they are, not on age. But this is something that we need to prepare our boys for.   Even the thought of something like stirs something so primal deep inside me.  I want to believe that my intuition would warn me, but I would be naive to trust that alone. I honestly felt safe in our bubble of a community. That the boys coaches, teachers, bible school teachers, would never do that.  Unfortunately that is just not the case, and if anything where most of the people would be.  Even more unfortunate is the shadow that places on teachers who are there for the love of teaching, period. Someone like my husband who is extremely careful in even the most simple exchanges with his students. Gone are the "good job" pats on the back, and that is sad.
I'm not going to be able to come up with a easy solution to this parenting hurdle.  I'm still trying to figure it out. But what I did learn comes directly from my friend, and may be the best advice I have read regarding this subject.  

Focus on behavior—teach your kids that adults are never entitled to touch their bodies, and that no one is entitled to touch their bodies without their permission.

That is the first thing we can do in stopping this horrible crime that gets (understandably) unreported by its victims.  When you know better, you do better.

And maybe take my mom's ritual as my own and pray. 


1 comment:

  1. Everything you said is so true. It's a sick world we live in. It's sad that we have to worry about the People that we should be able to trust the most. We would all like to think that our Children would tell us if something was to happen, but who knows what they are being threatened with by the other person. My poor kids are so sheltered because I have overwhelming fears of something happening to them. Parenting is SO HARD!!!!!