Monday, May 11, 2009

If You're A Statistic, I Don't Want To Know

I really envy all you moms out there who have kids all under 5 years old.

Yes, I know some of you have LOTS of them under 5 years old, but I still envy you.

My mom always said, "When they're little, they have little problems. When they are bit, they have big problems." And, as much as I hate to admit it, she's right. AGAIN.

When my little Peanuts were itty bitty, I could hug them and squeeze them and pet them and keep them safe in our house, the wonderful protective bubble. Then my sanity kicked in and they had to go to Kindergarten. Theoretical School is a lovely place, filled with sunny days and smiling children who love their teachers and learn the Pledge of Allegiance. Real World School is filled with children who are grumpy because school lunch is the biggest meal they'll get that day, the classroom stinks from kids wearing rain-soaked sneakers that already have that year-old funky smell, and little Bobby learned a few new 4-letter words on the school bus today that he's going to teach your Kindergarten child.

Here's a picture of Peppermint Patty before she had to go off into the big bad world of full-day Kindergarten. Doesn't she look so innocent?

My kids went to a school that is somewhere in between TS and RWS. I felt pretty safe sending them there and I never had any problems. But, one thing I have certainly learned by being married to Texan Papa, who has done many years of prison ministry, is that you can't relax just because things seem safe. You have to always be on your guard, always watching, always ready.

So, now at the tender age of 9, Peppermint Patty has been invited to a sleepover. I just don't know how to handle this. The invitations have been coming for a couple of years now, but until the present we have always graciously declined, explaining to the hostess that our daughter is just not READY for a sleepover yet. (Ahem, I think WE'RE the ones who aren't ready.)

We have always talked very openly about our bodies with the kids, how "private parts" means anything that we want to keep private. We have drilled them on the "good touch, bad touch" thing. We have told them, in no uncertain terms, that no one can touch them ANYWHERE on their bodies NO MATTER WHAT if they don't want it. Not even the doctor. And to never believe people when they say, "Your mom and dad said it was okay." And never believe it when people say, "I will make all your friends hate you if you tell." This is the shit I am deathly afraid of. I never worry about some maniac driving up and snatching my daughter out of my yard. Yes, it's possible, but it's WAY more likely that someone she knows and trusts will violate that trust in a horrible way. And, I'm so afraid that it will happen because she is such a people-pleaser and so obedient to adults, as well as wanting friends so badly that she might forget her own good judgment if it means a chance to keep a "friend".

I wonder how much I must ostracize myself when I tell people, "well, we have to be careful, you know. The people to worry about are the people who seem the nicest!" All while I'm talking to a mom about her daughter inviting my daughter over to spend the night. I'm sure she's thinking, "DOES THIS LADY THINK WE ARE PEDOPHILES OR SOMETHING???" So, I'm trying to work on my speech for when we need to decline invitations.

I guess I get so nervous because I've been in situations where sexual abuse was possible. It never actually happened but looking back I can see how lucky I was. Once, when I was 10, (YES, 10!!) my family drove to Minnesota with the Boy Scouts to go skiing and an 18-year-old boy in our car started feeling me up my leg, up... up... until I pushed his hand away. HELLO? At the time I was actually FLATTERED because I was like, ooh an 18-year-old thinks I'm cute! *shudder* Later, as a college grad, my friend and I went to a little bar in the lobby of a hotel. I got friendly with a guy I met there and went up to his room, just to talk and fool around a little bit. But when he pushed for the action to move from PG to R and I said no, I was shocked how strong he was considering he was only my height. He held me down on the bed and tried to force his hand up my skirt. I remember thinking, oh my God I never thought this would happen to me. I think I might have said something like, "Do you really think you're going to rape me?" and he finally let me go. Maybe my remark just jarred his thoughts enough to get me out of there, thank God, but what if it had gone the other way?

I bet every single person reading this has some type of similar story.

Now, can you see why I am losing sleep over my 9-year-old daughter going to a simple sleepover? Can you imagine the basket case I will be when she's 14? or 17?

I am screwed.

18 comments:

Swizz said...

My parents made it so miserable for me to ask that we rarely did. They would call the parents of the girl who asked me over and ask if they owned any guns and if they were locked up. This was TEXAS! Of COURSE there were guns.

And if there was a trampoline. We weren't allowed on trampolines. Or a pool. We were excellent swimmers, but our parents had to be around.

I'm sure there were other things discussed, but those are the main points I remember.

Now I'm making MYSELF nervous, and my son is only 3! :o)

Jen said...

Thanks for bursting my bubble. I know that those things happen and those people are out there but I don't like to think about it. I keep myself and my children in a bubble, nice and protected.
Until now, until kindergarten is happening.....


But seriously, this is a great post. Gives me lots of food for thought.

Shana said...

So sad but so true. Good luck with whatever you decide. And keep us informed. This also scares me to death!

Hot Tub Lizzy said...

Yep... it's scarey isn't it?

Nobody told me about this stuff when I was thinking about wanting to be a mom.

E said...

Oh Mama wait til College...high school even. A band-aid and some monster spray fixes everything when they are little. When they grow up you have no power to fix anything. It is a constant lesson in humble gratitude.

Noah's Mommy said...

I understand....heck my son isn't even 2 yet...and I'm bound and determined he won't be out of my sight for too long....maybe you can ease into by having a sleep over at your place?....then move on...I don't know...it's territory I haven't tread on yet...

Jennifer said...

I completely and totally understand. I'm already dreading this and Baby Girl is only four. It was all over our news recently that a firefighter molested a little girl that was staying with his daughter for a sleepover. A firefighter. Now you know those parents had to think their kid was safe, but she wasn't. Becuase it is just like you said, it is always the person that you trust or think would never do something like that.

So, so scary.

Aleta said...

Lucky for my parents, I never liked sleepovers. I went to one and called my parents to pick me up before the end of the night. I was already home sick. Lol. I think my parents were relieved and I never accepted another sleep over after that. If you let your daughter go, I'm sure you'll tell her that she can call you at any time to come pick her up. Sometimes that's all a kid needs to give them strength to do the right thing, to know their parent has their back, without question.

Good luck with the emotions. I don't have any children, but I know I'd be super protective too!

Christine said...

We have made a blanket statement that we don't "do" sleep overs. People can come to our house whenever they want and they can stay till all hours of the night, but unless the mom is sleeping over too, we don't do them. There are too many things in this world that I have no control over, this one I do. My kids are sometimes disappointed by this, but by and large they're ok with it.

Every Day Goddess said...

It is so hard, luckily with my boys their friends are mostly their cousins so I never had to deal with the sleepover thing. My middle son is not really into sleeping anywhere but at home or his Aunt or Uncles. Now my daughter on the other hand has only a younger girl cousin, so we have had to face it. We only have agreed for her to stay at her best friends house whom we know the parents well. It is hard, I have that talk all the time about body parts. My mom told me that I must trust in the job I have done with them, but it is hard!!

Anna See said...

this is so tough. i am still haunted from putting one of my kids in an unsafe situation. haunted.

sassy stephanie said...

Oh sister, I hate to say, I'm right there with you. I hate we have to even feel this way. I hate that I totally doubt everyone.

My BFF's daughter was molested by the teen neighbor across the street when she was 9. Turns out, he's done it to at least 4 other girls, youngest was 5 yrs old. HATE this world we live in sometimes.

Mimi said...

It's scary times we're livin' in.

Thanks for stopping by my blog & helping to make my SITS day special!

Bridgett said...

Oy. We do sleepovers, but only the three other girls on the block--I know you can always be surprised, but I'm thinking we're pretty safe with these three families (we camp with them, we go on vacation with them, they have a key to my house and vice versa, we KNOW them). An invite from school would probably be declined, unless it was one of two families I also know very well.

We've had the talk with both girls, but this is a good reminder that it's time to have that talk again. Maeve is the type to go into a situation thinking it's a game...and Sophia is a teacher/adult pleaser (that one scares me more in this situation).

And you're right about the car snatching. I could drive myself crazy with worry and still not be safe--I have to let them play in the (fenced) backyard with the big dog and not sit there every moment watching them. It's good for all of us.

Christine said...

Oh wow, what a tough topic. Well my girls do spend the night away sometimes, but I have concentrated more on having everything happen at my house. That way, I have developed what all the kids call "the fun house" where I have all kinds of activities, projects, and ideas gong for anyone waking through the door. Almost every weekend I have two to three girls spending the night at the house, and my philosophy is "the more the merrier" It also lets me be in absolute control over any and all situations. Secondly, because Regan is disabled, it includes her in on a lot of the fun, and doesn't let her feel left out of all the social situations.

The familes my girls have stayed with have all been trusted family friends we haveknown for years, but then we live in a very small town, and everyone knows everyone so it feels so much safer (that's not to say anyone couldn't fool me or comletely surprise me....i am well aware of that).

Maybe if there were some fmailies you got to know and trust you could build up a relationship that could lead to a sleepover....or just have her invite them to yor house, to keep a close eye on everything.

anymommy said...

Gulp. Can I keep mine little? You are right though, at some point (hopefully as a young adult) every child hits this kind of situation and you just hope you've taught them to scream hell no! And of course, that they haven't run across someone criminal who will commit a crime to get what they want.

Tough issues, but I hope you'll keep telling us about how you handle it.

dianthe said...

i never thought i woul dbe the overprotective parent - then i had a baby! my baby girl is only 15 months old and i'm already thinking about that kind of stuff - i can't imagine how i'm going to feel when she's old enough for sleepovers - good luck! hopefully i'll learn from you!

Bridgett said...

Heh. Sophia came home from a sleepover this morning with the mom of the birthday girl holding her sleeping bag. She wet the bed last night. I just about died from the worry until I voiced it to Mike and he pointed out that she did the same thing when we all were staying at his mom's house. She sleeps deeply and loses her way/orientation. BUT STILL. I cornered her in the kitchen, I thought gently, and asked her about it, about how it happened, etc. She looked genuinely puzzled and a bit embarrassed. Finally I asked her if she wanted me to stop talking about it for now, and she said in her "no s**t" voice, "yeah, Mom. It was just a mistake."

I know in my head it's ok--we vacation with this family; I watched their kids when the mom was in the hospital, and so forth. But then I start to downward spiral in my head....