I have given birth five times, and I can remember every detail from each delivery. I remember asking as soon as my first baby was born if she had all her fingers and toes, and I remember seeing my second baby’s perfectly chubby cheeks. My third baby girl was much smaller than I expected, considering she was born at 41 weeks. My fourth baby came after an epidural too little too late, and my fifth came and filled a space in our family that we didn’t know was empty.
But every single time, I fell madly in love.
My heart kept growing and making room for every precious soul that came into our lives.
And at the same time, my inner mama bear grew. Now? Psycho. Lunatic. Crazy protective. Literally will rip apart anyone who threatens to hurt any of my babies.
I’ve cuddled and snuggled and loved each of them. I’ve kissed chubby cheeks and bo-bos. I’ve cheered on each one as they have taken their first steps. Their daddy and I tuck each one in at night after a prayer and a kiss. I love my babies more than life itself.
We try to shield them from as much nonsense and negativity as we can. We are totally against social media until high school. We limit sleepovers to very close friends and family. Like most parents, we are pretty protective of our kids. We have a cell phone that is locked down with Norton App-Lock and can only text and make phone calls (I’ll get to that in a minute).
The Ongoing Conversation We Never Wanted to Have to Have
As everyone knows, the media seems to love posting the most gruesome and disturbing stories they can find, especially involving children. We are doing everything we can to protect our babies from these monsters that seem to be everywhere. Hiding in plain sight.
Sure, I’m teaching my kids not to trust the stereotypical old guy in the van who creeps everyone out. But when are they going anywhere with him? Never.
But what about teachers, doctors, clergy, coaches? Their best friend’s aunt / uncle / brother / step-dad / sister / cousin / family friend?
I’m teaching my girls not to blindly trust any of them.
One night, after watching a particularly stomach churning news segment on child abuse, we called our three oldest kids in the room. We told them that we had something very important and very serious to talk to them about. Then we asked, “What would you do if you got lost in a store and someone tried to take you?” Each one said they would scream and run away. We then went further into detail with what they should do: unleash it. Kick, punch, scream, tear, bite, pull hair, do whatever it takes to get away.
They looked at each other and giggled.
No, this is not a joke. It’s not something that we think will ever happen but there is always a chance.
Then we got a little more specific.
“What if it was someone you were supposed to be able to trust that tried to do something to you? Someone that got a little too close, in your personal space, and made you feel uncomfortable. What would you do then?”
::Silence and wide eyes::
Then we explained: When someone gives you a bad feeling, you trust yourself. You have instincts for a reason. You leave the situation. You can do whatever it takes – lie, yell for help, run. And then call us (main reason we gave our ten year old that cell phone), and we will come get you, no matter what. If they try to force you to stay, you fight back. You will never get in trouble because you left an adult that was trying to do something bad to you.
Sometimes bad people dress and act like good people.
They make everyone think they can be trusted, but they are really actually horrible, dangerous, evil people.
Of course there are adults that we can trust, but they will never make you feel uncomfortable or violate your personal boundaries.
Still, now more specific.
What if it was your favorite teacher? What if it was your coach? What if it was someone from church? What if it’s someone we do trust? Then what? Is it okay for you to fight back?
If you feel threatened and you think that someone who is suppose to be good is trying to do something bad to you, trust your instinct. ALWAYS TRUST YOURSELF.
Even if it is someone that we know and trust, we will always, always be on your side.
It’s our job to protect you, but it’s also our job to teach you to protect yourself when we aren’t with you!