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.

18 replies on “Don’t You Ever Lay a Hand on My Boys”

Oh my goodness! I can only imagine what you’re feeling, that post sent ME reeling! I hope you’ll be blogging about how you talk to the kids and how your family moves forward from this, I think people would find it very helpful.

I’m glad you and FireDad are going to talk to the boys together. I am sending you lots of love. Please keep us updated as to what happens to the “pastor.”


I think you’re a great Mom. And I think you–at a lot of pain to yourself–have taught your kids the most important thing they can learn for staying safe, which is this: you can ask Mommy anything and tell Mommy anything. I’ve been reading your blog since Munchkin was 2 or 3. Over and over you’ve shared moments about how one of your three kids will ask you something and it will pierce you like a knife and make you want to weep, and you will hide your sorrow and heartbreak and talk with them in an honest, but still light-handed way that helps them to understand what they need to understand. So I think all that practice talking about complicated feelings means they’re not as likely as some kids to keep their fears or their feelings secret, and that is an excellent thing.

*hugs* I’m so sorry this has happened in your community.

I am praying for you and your family deeply, especially those around you and those that are involved. I can not imagine how any of you must be feeling right now.

This same sort of thing happened around here, not at our church but at a karate studio where a lot of our preschoolers attended.

I myself am a helicopter parent and hover over my children, I try not to be so much but after reading this I would rather hover. Yet I will tell you the best thing that we (my hubs and I) have done is had the sex talk. I don’t know how old your boys are but our oldest was 9 when we began the discussion and this new line of communication has released some of the fears that where with in me.

I pray that you find serenity soon ;-)

Praying for you as you talk to your boys about this man and what he did. What a terrible thing to have happen!

WOW, I couldn’t imagine! hang in there, and know that you have a great relationship with your boys and that they know they can talk to you.


Very scary and so so sad. I’m sorry you and your community is going through this. I can’t imagine.

Ick. I can only imagine how hard that is and how much you are dreading talking to the boys about it. My thoughts are with you.

It’s hard as they get older to balance their independence and freedom (which they need) with their safety. I particularly think that 5-8 is a tough age span because they are big enough to go to the playground by themselves or ride their bikes but not so old that they are wise to all the terrible things that could happen. I find myself “testing” my daughter frequently with potential (mild) situations about how she would handle things just to make sure she’s aware of the safety rules. We try and make sure every situation is safe but you can’t. Sometimes I just have to grit my teeth and trust in her and the world and send her off. It’s scary and I wish you the best with your boys.

Sick and shocking and so sad. I saw you post about this before and didn’t have words. I still don’t, really. Does it help to know that most people are kind and good, and that you have a crapload of support and concern? Well, probably not. But they are and you do.

You have awesome, awesome, kids. You’re a hell of a mom. And you love and talk to one another. That’s the most you can do. It’s huge, really.

I am shaking, sobbing, blubbering for you, for your boys, for those who have been impacted and irrevocable changed by this horrendous event, and for myself (&my PTSD) no doubt. Thank you so much for sharing this. I KNOW it must be more than heart breaking, my thoughts and prayers will be with you all!


I had to talk to Meg after a church helper was arrested for molesting a child. She had been to a day program while Paul and I attended an adoption seminar. All of this was a church who assured me they finger printed and ran criminal checks on all volunteers. I was 99.99% certain that she had had no alone time with her, but I had to ask. She was 7 at the time. I was furious. I had asked the hard questions, was in the same building with her. There is no 100% safety and I hate it.
When we talked with her wer kept it casual, didn’t scare her with specifics. I basically told her that a person at the funtion she was at had touched another child inappropriately at another time and wanted to know if she had ever had any touch her or make her feel uncomfortable. She assured me that these things had never happened to her and went on her way playing.
What keeps me hopefull is that we talk. All of us. I point out the bad stuff in the least graphic way possible.

I hope your talk goes okay. Since Elle hasn’t been at that school for a few years I don’t think I will tell her about the pastor there. I’ll probably just bring up the subject of bad and good touching and see what hapens :(

Scary and sickening.

I have a hard time leaving my child with anyone (even people I know well) or doing church activities without me, because I’m a childhood sexual abuse survivor. It is hard to know when to let her have those moments to spread her wings when I don’t always trust my own instincts, and I’m fearful of trusting other people. But I keep working on it. And I do a lot of praying.

The only thing I know to do is love. Talk talk talk to my kid. Discuss appropriate and inappropriate touch. Have a secret-free family, and teach her that anyone who tells her to keep a secret is not to be trusted, they she will NEVER get in trouble for telling me something. And then do more praying.

From the few times I have read your blog, I can tell that you are a good and caring mom. You are careful with your kids and you are doing everything you can to keep them safe. And most important, you love them.

I am SO so sorry this is going on and something you have had to face. Not a fun talk at all. For what it is worth (this is totally assvice where you didn’t ask for it) but I’ve heard from a child therapist friend that these sorts of conversations happen best when the boys are actively engaged with something, like building blocks or drawing. Rather than sit them down face to face where they start to feel scared because they can sense that you are scared. Anyway, it might help take away some of the nerves and it has worked for me when I’ve had to have “serious” talks with my boys. I so relate to the seesaw of hovering versus too much laidback and pretty much anything I do I feel is wrong. Parenting is so darn hard. And awesome. Hugs to you and your family. Enjoy the bathroom.

I’m a lurker…this post prompted me to write and express my empathy for your situation. I’ve been there and it is tough. Also, this is a good time to reevaluate words that your family uses to describe private parts. A social worker recently informed my family that if a child doesn’t use the correct terms, her testimony is not considered admissible. Hopefully, you never need this info….blessings.

I’m with you Mama Bear. I worry so much about the monkeys. So very much. I suppose there is no way to protect them 100%. Not really. I’m so sorry that this happened at your boys’ preschool. I am so angry FOR you. On the other hand, I’m very happy that one brave little boy spoke up. Who knows how many victims a 70 year old man with access to children could have had. :(

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