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.