In trying to figure out what to write for the day, I played with a number of topics. I could write about Thanksgiving and how disgusted I am at the retailers who want to push Black Friday into Thursday. I could write about my battle with the hubs on a real tree versus a fake tree since it's coming close to time to start thinking about putting up Christmas decor. Or I could rant about how irritated I am that presidential candidates get to have security provided by my tax dollars when there is such a huge debt problem in the United States. I could even write something writing-related because ultimately that's most of what this blog is about; my life as a writer.
But not today. I'm going to focus on something even more ruffled than any of those things above; having an important discussion with a 5-year-old.
We haven't had THE TALK. I think my son is still too little for that full blast of reality but when the questions come, it's almost impossible to avoid the subject. So far, the realm of sex talk has only extended into a dabble of discussions about babies. Earlier this year, my step-daughter was pregnant. My son asked, "Momma, who put a baby in sissy's belly?"
When it comes to the serious stuff, dear hubs usually passes the buck to me. We were in the car at the time of this spontaneous question and I'm sure the look on both of our faces depicted the horror a squirrel must feel when a car comes barreling down on it. Since I knew his father wouldn't answer him, I had to come up with something quick. My sense of being a realist mother kicked in. I didn't want to lie to him or give him some BS line about storks or the bit that starts with "When mommies and daddies love each other..." Instead, I kept it simple. "Marcelo put it there," I said. Then I held the handle of my car door tightly as if I were bracing for impact. My husband's eyebrows shot up and his mouth kept opening and closing in disbelief at what I'd just said.
As it turns out, simple really is better. He accepted that answer with a stout, "Okay." Relief washed over the hubs and I. Being the I-told-you-so person that I am, I turned to the hubs and grinned.
Less than five minutes later, the next question came. "How will the baby get out of sissy's belly?"
I'm sure my face went white again and the hubs only snorted as he stifled a laugh at how smug I'd been. So what was another simple answer? "Sissy goes to the hospital and a doctor helps the baby out."
Thankfully, he accepted those answers without digging further and I'm thankful that I was able to easily answer him with a point of reality instead of feeding him fantasy.
But while I can somewhat divert the seriousness of those types of questions for now, I knew I needed to teach him about bad people. The whole Sandusky thing going on at Penn State is horrid. There are so many stories about sexual abuse from people you would never expect and stories about abductions and such that as a parent, it has become a vital necessity to talk with your kids about it. And what's even worse is that you have to talk to your kids about this stuff before even having THE TALK with them.
So last night, I wanted to convey safety to him without scaring him. I told him about bad adults and some of the things they would try to do to little kids without being graphic. I talked mostly about clothing and how adults should never undress in front of kids and how other adults shouldn't ask kids to undress in front of them. I also weaved a little abduction safety in there. The only questions he asked were about who he was allowed to ride home with when I told him that I would never send someone he didn't know to pick him up from anywhere.
Then we did a little Q & A after our discussion. "What do you do if someone picks you up and tries to put you in their vehicle?"
"Kick, scream, bite, scratch and get away!" he said proudly.
Having this kind of discussion with little kids is especially tough because kids are really detail oriented. I didn't want to miss a scenario they might encounter. I want them to be prepared if they ever (God forbid) encounter a situation where someone says they would kill their mommy and daddy if they tell on them. I want them to know what to do if an adult approaches them about helping them find a puppy. I'm not going to be able to be with my kids all the time. And when my son spends the night somewhere else, whether with a family member or a friend, I'm not going to know every person that enters that home when he's there. You just never know who is and isn't capable of unspeakable behavior. And it's my job to prepare my children for those things. It's a sad reality but it's a must.
I just hope that I'm doing it right. A parent always second guesses themselves about such important things.
I hope you've had a talk with your kid about these subjects. If you haven't, the headlines should convince you that it's time. It's terrible, I know, but these adults who prey on kids do so because many kids haven't been empowered by the knowledge of what they should do if they are in that situation. Uninformed kids are easy targets for these monsters.
It's cliche but knowledge really is power, especially for kids.
Peace, love, and child safety,