I never thought I would have to have this conversation with my 5-year old
We’ve all seen and heard stories of the most horrific and traumatizing thing that could happen to a child: molestation. Even the thought of it is stomach churning. I know I went into motherhood with a healthy fear of it, sure, but a confidence that I would have the spidey sense to know if a certain situation seemed off.
No, thankfully…to my knowledge my daughter has never been molested but I did have to have a conversation with her so much earlier than I ever intended to about her body and what it means to have agency over it.
It was an ordinary day last summer and I was picking her up from daycare. The usual pleasantries were exchanged: hello, yes good day, you? That’s when one of the other women asked to have a word. Oh no, the pulse begins to race a bit…did she do something bad? How was I going to explain her dropping an f bomb?
“There was a situation today,” she said.
“Well, she pulled her pants down.”
“Whaaat?” I asked with shock. “You saw her pull her pants down?”
“Well no, when I spotted her they were already down.”
I had no idea what to say…it didn’t really make any sense to me. She sensed my confusion and continued. “Well, here’s the thing. We immediately told her very calmly to pull her pants up and asked her privately what had caused her to pull her pants down. She was playing with another little girl at the time and remarked to me that the other girl had told her: ‘That’s what happens when you don’t follow my rules’…and so, being the good little compliant kid that she is, she listened.”
Fireworks went off in my brain, giant red flags were nearly blocking my ability to see anything.
I asked what was going to happen with regards to the other child involved and the employee mentioned that they would be speaking with her as well. Now…how in the world was a going to discuss this with my daughter without making her feel any of the following: shame, embarrassment or self-consciousness? I waited awhile in the car until a song came on that we both loved and began singing along to together.
I vowed to keep it really light and easy breezy…no pressure, maybe even a little humour. “Hey doll…I heard you pulled down your pants at daycare today?!!” With a little more enthusiasm than I felt inside. “Yes” she said and I could see a bit of shame begin to creep in. “Not to worry my love, you’re not in trouble at all.” The relief was evident on her face.
We casually discussed the day’s events and I explained that no one, and I do mean no one has any permission ever to see her private body…not her belly, not her bum and not her vagina. I asked her to repeat what she should say if anyone asked her to remove her clothes: “NO!” she cheered emphatically on the 10th round through!
Despite the fact that I felt good about the conversation I had with my daughter and despite the fact that it wasn’t this traumatizing event I still had a very sick feeling in my stomach. The focus began shifting off my daughter and over to the other child involved. Like the airplane instructions where we’re to draw from the oxygen mask first before passing to your child. A five year old doesn’t just come up with phrasing like that: “That’s what happens when you don’t follow my rules.” She ‘must’ have been told that. I felt the nausea return and a panic that I had to do something.
I didn’t want to hurt anyone and but I also couldn’t be the chicken shit who’s afraid that I might offend someone. I spoke to the director of the daycare the next day. They contacted CAS and that was that. Never heard what happened…I still see that child all the time and want to squeeze her. I hope the worst didn’t happen to her.