Heartbroken Part 2

“Our hearts are broken for the parents of the survivors as well, for as blessed as they are to have their children home tonight, they know that their children’s innocence has been torn away from them too early and there are no words that will ease their pain.”

                                  President Obama

What do you do when such tragedy strikes?  How do you go on living after such devastation?

I remember when the Columbine shooting happened in Littleton, Colorado.  I was so thankful that I wasn’t there at that time.  Because I can’t understand how life goes on after something like that.  How do you close your eyes and see anything but haunting visions of that day?  How do you hear anything but the echos of the noise of trauma?  I didn’t know. I still don’t know.

I can only imagine the thoughts and questions that consume someone after they have experienced something so tragic as witnessing a mass murder of children and their protectors.

No. I’m sure I can’t fathom the grief families are experiencing right now in Connecticut.

The hint of loss I experienced when my boys found out the truth about Santa is nothing compared to the loss of innocence in these children.  A loss their parents probably can’t even relate to.  Oh, how this puts things into perspective.

My heart goes out to them all.

God, I have to thank you first and foremost for my children.  For all children.  They teach us how to love, how to be humble, how to be better people. I don’t pretend to understand why you let things like this happen.  But I also can’t comprehend the amount of tragedy that you do prevent.  The amount of lives and innocence that you choose to save on a daily basis.  I know your character is good.  I know you can be trusted.  I know there is a party of innocent little children in heaven with you right now.  They have been saved from having to live through this disaster, and I believe that’s a blessing.  I pray boldly now, for comfort to consume the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School.  I pray that the children in that area will not live in fear.  Give them the ability to grieve in the way that they need to, but give them an otherworldly hope as well.  It’s so hard to see how you can make good come out of this situation, but I pray that you do.  Protect those kids.  Comfort their parents and families. May life after these deaths turn people to you.  One more time, thank you God, THANK YOU GOD for my babies. Bless the people of Newtown, CT beyond what they think is possible tonight and in this season.

“Saxy”

I think it’s well known, now, that I don’t want to be an over-protective parent.

I can handle the occasional trip to the hospital, but I do not want to take any risks when it comes to my boys’ innocence.  I take that seriously.

A few months ago, we had an incident with a neighbor boy who told my boys to go try out a certain sexual act.  I was mortified and heartbroken that that innocence was robbed from my boys.  I was even more concerned how this seven year old  became aware of this information in the first place.  I feared abuse gave him the knowledge of that activitiy.  But I also considered the mere relay of information as abuse to my kids.

Another neighbor talked to this boy’s mom and she didn’t seem concerned with the situation.

When Asher told me what this boy told him, I did not have the appropriate response.  According to all the parenting articles I’ve read, when your kid says a bad word or does something inappropriate to get your attention, you’re supposed to ignore them, or have a very mild reaction and just tell them, “That’s inappropriate, don’t say that again.”

So when Isaac and Asher came inside from playing and Asher blurted out, “Guess what ‘So-and-So’ told me to do…” My first response was:

“GASP!  WHAT?  He said WHAT?”  (think Schwartz’s mom on the phone in The Christmas Story)  I made Asher repeat himself and Isaac concurred, yes, that’s what the kid said.

I got my wits about me and calmly responded, “Well, that is a very inappropriate thing to say.  I hope I never hear you repeat that to anyone else,” and then went about fixing dinner.

I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t want to draw any attention to the phrase they just repeated to me.  I wanted them to forget it completely and never mention it again.  But I also needed to go back to them and to thank them for coming and telling me; to tell them that they can always tell me the things they hear on the playground.  I also needed to remind them about how to keep their bodies safe and what is appropriate behavior when it comes to their body.  So, we came back to that conversation before bedtime that night.

I prayed for a long time that my boys would completely forget the words they were told.  And the neighbor boy moved away just a couple of weeks later, so I don’t fear that more information or inappropriate situations will come from that boy. But the whole thing really upset me, and I pray with all my heart that my boys were not changed from that experience.

I decided that day that our boys would be home schooled and they’d never leave the house again.

But we can’t protect our kids from these situations forever.

Sex is everywhere they go, everything they see, and hear in public.  You can’t drive down the street without seeing billboards.  You can’t flip through the radio stations without hearing an inappropriate song.

 

This six year old boy was suspended for telling a girl, “I’m sexy and I know it.” He was just repeating a song he’d heard.  My boys sing that song around the house all the time.  I have never played it in my house or car, but I wonder if it was played in gym class or by some friend.  The other day, Asher pulled his short legs up, making his pants look the shape of underwear, and told me, “Hey Mom, I’m saxy and I know it.” I’ve been telling my boys that I don’t like that song and asking them not to sing it around the house.  But you know how catchy songs are.  They stick in your head.

I’ve been waiting for my boys to ask me what “sexy” means.  I’ve tried to come up with some appropriate answers but they haven’t asked.  So, when Asher brought my attention to the song, I told him he doesn’t even know what “Saxy” means.  He pulled his pant legs back up, exposing his pasty white thighs and said, “This is saxy!”  Apparently our fourth grade neighbor told him that.

Later on I heard Isaac correcting Asher, “It’s sexy.  Not saxy.”  Asher stuck to his guns and said, “Nope, it’s saxy.”

It’s funny to talk about, but not when I’m having to deal with it in real time.  I know the American Academy of Pediatrics is advising parents to talk about sex from birth.  We don’t want it to be a taboo topic that my boys don’t ask us about because then they’ll get all their information from their friends.  But we also aren’t going to explain the birds and the bees to our first grader.  It’s all about appropriate timing and appropriate amounts of sharing.

When I thought about talking about puberty and sex with my boys, I always assumed that would be Randall’s job.  He’s the man of the house, he can talk to my boys about that stuff.  But these situations just pop up unexpectedly and Randall’s not always around.  In fact, Randall’s out working most of the time my boys are awake.  So, I’m going to need to be better prepared next time I have to answer a question or respond to a similar situation.

Ugh.  Just another difficult and subjective task a parent has to navigate.  Any advice is welcomed!

I just feel so inadequate some days.

 

 

God, I do not want to screw up my kids more than I already have.  Please give me wisdom and discernment when it comes to navigating how to talk about sex with my kids.  Please protect their innocence until they are emotionally ready.  Please protect them from abuse, physically or verbally that will take away the innocence they have left.

Fear Itself

Warning: These links are NOT approved for all audiences.

The other day, Isaac wanted to play a game at school before class started.  A year or so ago, I taught him this game I saw on this really scary movie.  It’s a great, quick children’s game.  One person is “it” and stands facing a tree while every other player stands at a designated point behind him.  The person who is “it” knocks on the tree and says, “One, two, three knocking on the tree”.  While the person is facing the tree and speaking, the other players silently creep towards him.  When he finishes his chant, he turns around and everyone must freeze.  If the “knocker” sees anyone moving, they have to go back to the beginning.  The “knocker” then turns back to face the tree and knocks again.  Eventually the silent creepers will get close enough to tag the knocker and he will have to chase them and tag the person who tagged him first. It’s a really fun (and creepy) game.

So Isaac wanted all the kids to play 1, 2, 3 so he asked Michelle if she knew how to play.  She confidently told him she did.  But started up a conversation with another “classmate”, avoiding Isaac all together.  But this story is really just a pointless tangent.  I just wanted to include a link to our newest favorite ghost story.

 

I’ve been contemplating something lately.  Is it okay to let your children be afraid?  Is it okay to be afraid yourself?

Growing up, fear was not really an option.  It’s not that we weren’t allowed to be afraid or express our fear of something, but my parents did a good job of explaining away those fears.  My dad raised us on scary movies.  It was his impression that if a scary movie didn’t have blood or violence (or adult situations) it was fine for kids to watch.  So we grew up watching Alfred Hitchcock movies and the like.  As a kid, my favorite movie was Poltergeist.  I even remember watching IT on TV.  It was on TV so it was safe, right?  It scared the crap out of me but I loved it!

Until my older sister, Laura, started reenacting it with my stuffed clown doll.  We shared a room and had bunk beds.  I can just remember going to bed at night and looking for that dumb clown doll.  When it was missing, I knew I’d see it again soon.  I’d wait eyes peeled in suspense for when it would show up again.  Usually it would appear as if it was floating down from the top bunk, saying something awful like, “They all float up here, Emily!”

There was one movie in particular that I had to watch over and over until I was finally brave enough to finish it around the age of 12.  The Changeling is one of my dad’s favorite ghost stories.  It’s a great movie!  It’s very quotable.  At least every person in my extended family would know exactly how to say such simple words as “my father” and make a chill go up your spine.  And the music is excellent!  Now that I’ve taken my family members on a trip down memory lane, I’ll continue with my real thoughts.

I just remember the few times I was afraid, my dad sat me down and explained away my fears.  When I was afraid of a thunderstorm, he would tell me it’s just like God is bowling.  Isn’t that fun, to imagine that God is bowling up in Heaven?  He’d say, “you like rock music, don’t you?  It’s loud and always has good drums.  You’re not afraid of drums are you?  Don’t be afraid of thunder just because it’s loud.”  And he was right.  To this day, thunder is one of my favorite things to listen to.

I remember a very specific moment when we decided to go to Six Flags and test out the new Ninja ride.  I loved roller coasters as a kid but I had never been on a ride that had loops; that actually took me upside down.  So I was stoked to ride it.  I was so excited up until the point that we pulled into the parking lot.  I started crying.  I remember Dad saying that it was safe.  It had to be safe or they’d never put it in an amusement park.  There was nothing to worry about.  I’m sure he even explained the physics of what happens when the coaster goes through those loops.  I got my courage and rode the coaster.  I’m sure I had a headache afterwords because that is the worst ride in the park, but it was fun and I’m glad I did it.

I’ve always been proud to say that there really is nothing I’m afraid of.  Until I had kids.  Then the thought of losing a kid, or even screwing them up became my big fears.  So, will I screw up my kids if I refuse to let them be afraid of anything?  I feel like I turned out okay.  I’m not too hard of a person, am I?

My dad still has the same philosophy about scary movies.  One of Isaac’s first Halloweens, we came to DnA’s (Doug and Angie, a pet name the Kirkland kids use for our parents) to trick or treat.  While my mom filled my kids with sugar (apparently, that’s every grandmother’s civil duty), my dad introduced Isaac to Poltergeist.  I was talking with Kayleigh and Brian as they got dressed and ready for their evening when I realized what Isaac was watching.  My dad commenced to tell me that when you explain to a child what to expect in the next scary scene, it is no longer scary to them.  Here’s how the conversation went down.

Grandpa:  Hey Isaac, watch this:  This guy’s face is going to melt into the sink.  You’re going to love it!

The first week of school, Isaac was telling me what he liked to play at recess.  He told me that someone would be the bad guy and he’d chase everyone and then catch on fire and run around screaming.  I was so shocked!  Here I am thinking that these stupid school kids are corrupting my son.  Then my dad confessed that he was showing the boys his favorite car chase scene from Bullitt.  He forgot that at the end of the chase scene, the bad guys catch fire and are shown burning in their overturned car!  It was my kid that was corrupting the others!

I’ve always tried to protect my boys’ innocence.  Isaac and Asher both have struggled with fears in the past.  But I take those moments to either explain them away, or give them tools to calm their fears.  What do you think?  Should I just comfort them and hold them and tell them it will be okay?  Or should I tell them not to be afraid?

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