Don’t You Ever Lay a Hand on My Boys

I’m sick to my stomach. I barely slept last night. And as I loaded the page to start writing this, the tears finally came. Angry tears. Heartbroken tears. Back to angry tears.

As I was writing yesterday’s post full of childhood innocence and bubbles here at church camp, FireDad logged on to tell me the news that the Pastor at the church where our sons attend preschool has been arrested on two counts of gross sexual imposition with a four year old. I almost vomited.

I vacillated last night between shocked and scared and angry and upset and angry and angry and angry. I tossed and turned all night. I forced myself to stay in bed for awhile this morning, only because I didn’t want to face more of the thoughts and fears and questions. Once BigBrother got up, I just kissed his precious little head and didn’t want to let him go. He looked at me oddly. I gave him breakfast.

I haven’t talked to the boys yet. FireDad has stayed behind this year, not attending camp with us, so he could remodel our bathroom. (Again: WOO HOO!) I want us to be together when we speak to the boys, and I figure we’ll have to break it into several different conversations. While the alleged criminal is supposed to have had no one-on-one contact with any child from the preschool, I’m pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to have had done what he did to this child as well. He ran the Christmas and spring programs. He has been in close enough proximity to my children without my supervision that the discussions have to be had… and I can’t do it without the support of my husband.

I am beyond upset right now.

Despite the fact that I don’t know what I’m doing with this parenting gig and I’m doing it wrong all the time — hovering too much, not hovering enough — I have always had an overwhelming weight on my shoulders to keep these boys safe. In therapy I was able to recognize that this overwhelming need stems from my perceived inabilities when I was pregnant with the Munchkin and the many ways in which I feel that I failed her. And while I worked through some of that, that need is always there: protect these boys, don’t let anything bad happen.

I have accepted that bruises and scrapes happen despite my medium-not-quite-hovering actions. I anticipate future stitches. Maybe a broken bone. Probably some broken hearts. But I’ve been sitting at the playground all week here at camp, reading while they run and jump and climb and slide and swing and sometimes forget what they’re doing and walk in front of the swing while someone is indeed swinging. But they only did the latter once, having learned a lesson. I’ve been pretty proud of myself all week. “Look at me! Look at me sitting and reading while they play! Look at me not being all helicopter mom up in this piece! Look at me letting them run to the playground, which is out of site of our cottage (but just barely) and requiring them to come back in 10 minutes to check in! Look at me! I’m finally doing this. I’m allowing them to spread their wings. I am finally calming down and accepting that life happens and I can’t save them from everything. Look at me!”

Yeah. Well. Look at me now.

I enrolled them in one of the best preschools in the area. One that some moms fight to get their kids into for a variety of reasons. And it’s a good school. The teachers are exactly what you wish for preschool teachers: kind, loving, fun, patient. They love my boys — even when my boys talk too much. I had patted myself on the back about this preschool. “Look at me! I got my kids in the right preschool. Whew. What a relief!”

Yeah. Well. Look at me now. Again.

I was doing what I thought was right. I was doing what other parents told me to do. I trusted that they would be safe. I trusted that the church-based school would take care of my sons. They were safer there than somewhere else, right?

But they weren’t safer. Apparently our children are never safe. Ever. Anywhere.

I recognize that my children have a very slim chance of having encountered this man in an unseemly way. I get that. But it’s like watching a child get attacked by a shark when your sons are swimming four feet away and you’re on the shore watching it all unfold. Yes, they come out of the water unscathed. Maybe they didn’t even see it, too busy doing what they’re supposed to be doing. But then you want me to let them go back in the water?

You want me to let them out of my sight?

You want me to trust that they’ll be okay next time?

You want me to let go of my already deep-seeded insecurities and just hope and pray that they’ll be okay?

Oh, sure. Let me get right on that.

There’s apparently a meeting coming up at the preschool. I am already upset with the school that the parents of past students weren’t notified before the article came out in the media with two days between his arrest and the break in the news. I am SO grateful for people who know bits and pieces have contacted me and allayed some fears — though I’m obviously still a hot mess. Of course, I fully expect the meeting to fall this coming week after FireDad and I have already left for San Diego for BlogHer ’11, because that’s my luck. I don’t know what we’ll do. Sure, this Pastor — and I use the word very lightly — is to have no contact with minors. I’ll venture to guess he won’t be back in the preschool, probably even if he is found innocent as he’s 71 and the dude should probably just retire and get out of dodge. Quickly. While looking over his shoulder. And I don’t care if that doesn’t sound very Christian, because I’m not feeling very loving right now.

But how am I supposed to shake the dread that has been awakened within me? How am I supposed to send BigBrother off to Kindergarten in two-and-a-half weeks? How am I supposed to send LittleBrother back to the same preschool? How am I supposed to sit here while my children are currently up the hill in their camp class? When something like this happens in another city or even in a nearby school, it’s someone else’s problem. When it’s in your school? And you don’t know the details or if the person had access to your children? It’s sickening and scary and makes you doubt every decision you’ve made leading up to this point.

The only good thing — that so many have pointed out — is that both boys are very verbal, especially for boys. But I’m shaken to my core. I trusted very few people to care for my children prior to this news and now I feel like I trust people even less.

Prayer Bell

But let it be known by every person who has contact with my sons: Don’t you ever, ever lay a hand on them. If you think I talk Mama Bear, you should see me act Mama Bear.

 

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Dispatches from Camp: Bubbles

Oh man, I love bubbles.

We’ve been making our own bubbles a lot this summer, but we’ve had one small problem: a shortage of bubble wands and sticks and general funnery. Do you know what the best part of mid-summer is? Retail stores start to freak out and speed time along and thus put all of their summer stuff on clearance. I scored a bucket of bubble wands and general funnery for $3.00 the other day, bringing it back with me to camp.

The boys are thrilled.

BB

LB

As did a bunch of other little kids from around our cottage who flocked to the bubble pan as soon as we appeared on the sidewalk and starting sending the bubbles into the air. Must be a kid’s version of a smoke signal.

Friends

Nothing like making friends over a wide range of bubble wands.

We’ve also found that it’s a perfect we-just-showered-and-don’t-want-to-get-dirty-before-evening-service type of play. We sat outside tonight, sweating anyway because the air was thick, thick, thick. And we just blew bubbles. I eventually put down the camera and took to the blue pipe because it blows the most bubbles in a row. They squealed and laughed and ran and popped.

Bubbles

And I realized that even this — these innocent days of bubble blowing at camp — these days are numbered. It made me appreciate even the worst of moments that we’ve had thus far (crazy scraped knees, grumpy three-year-old fits, missing FireDad, the incredibly gross heat and humidity). Someday they won’t sit and blow bubbles or chase the ones I blow.

So, for the rest of camp, you can catch me on the sidewalk near our cottage, blowing bubbles into the sky. My own smoke signal warning to other moms that these days are passing by too quickly.