#PleaseNotEverThem

#MeToo is everywhere right now. I’ve read a lot of #metoo post the Karen‘s post yesterday struck me on a totally different level. The #metoo moments I’ve read about are people coming forward and telling what happened to them. Her post sent chills down my spine because it made me consider a #metoo encounter happening to my kids someday.

Back when my daughter was about 4 years old, my dad said something to me that I have never forgotten and at times has haunted me. We were watching at the playground as she organized a group of kids she didn’t know to play a game of tag. She was always doing things like that; bringing people together. She has a strong, generous spirit that seemed to attract kids to her.

“God,” my dad said as he watched her admirably, “I hope nothing ever kills her spirit.” I remember staring at him incredulously and asking, “What are you talking about? What would ever take away her spirit?” Now, if there’s one prayer I say at night, it’s that nothing ever will. T

“I don’t know, things happen.” This was coming from a man who had raised four children. Besides being our biggest cheerleader, he had also witnessed our struggles, hurts, and disappointments. My kids are still little so it’s hard to imagine how painful it must be not just to see your small child hurting but to see your adult child hurting.

So Karen’s comment about “please, not them” shook me. It also shook me that when she had her #metoo moment, she chose not to tell anyone. And I understand why she didn’t. I can put myself in the shoes of that teen-age girl.

Now I have an almost teen myself. I’m close to my daughter. She still confides in me. She trusts me. And I trust her. I hope I always will. She recently asked if we were best friends. I was very touched that she would ask. And I understand why she asked; she asked because we confide in each other. Yes, I confide in her too when it’s appropriate. I tell her when I’m disappointed in myself. I tell her I wish I didn’t swear so much. I tell her sometimes I wish I were a better mom. I tell her these things because I feel like if I confide in her, it will encourage her to continue confiding in me. If I can admit my failures, hurts and disappointments, she’ll hopefully be more willing to reveal her own.

Last year, I was mugged me at gunpoint while walking back to my car in California. I lived in Brooklyn during the crack years and never got mugged. But on a trip to California, here it was. It wasn’t exactly a #metoo moment, but it was a time when I felt very vulnerable and that my life was in danger. Thank god, my kids were not with me. When it happened, all I could think about was my kids.  I had two priorities: getting out alive and not being raped. I am grateful that I survived and wasn’t hurt.

My first reaction when I got home was to not tell my kids. It would scare them; it sure as hell scared me. But I ended up telling my oldest daughter. My gut said she could handle it. I told her exactly what happened and how I reacted. She responded with empathy and love. It sparked a lot of meaningful conversation between us. Even her mom can be vulnerable and scared. The world isn’t always safe. There are bad guys out there. God, I want to protect my kids, but I know I can’t be there every moment of there lives. One of the reasons I wanted to talk to her about it was so we could talk about what would she would do in a situation where she was in danger. It’s a frightening thing to have to talk about. So she could have a plan.

I think the more you talk about what you would do in a situation, the more of a chance you have that in that situation, your instincts will kick in.

We went through possibilities of what she could you do if someone grabbed her, if someone followed her, if someone had a gun.

It’s difficult to admit to your child that you can’t always be there to keep them safe and that yes, there are bad guys. You feel like you’re revealing dangers that they never knew were possible. Having the conversation opens up lines of communication; it gives your child the words to use to talk about these issues; and maybe even gives your child a shot at protecting themselves if God forbid, they find themselves in a #metoo situation.

In case you or someone you love is ever sexually assaulted, the National Sexual Assault Hotline has trained staff that are available for counseling. The line is completely confidential. NSAH was the nation’s first decentralized hotline, connecting those in need with help in their local communities. It’s made up of a network of independent sexual assault service providers, vetted by RAINN, who answer calls to a single, nationwide hotline number. Since it was first created in 1994, the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) has helped more than 2 million people affected by sexual violence.


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Author: Heather Zachariah

Former Art Director for Home Magazine and Caribbean Travel & Life, Heather is chauffeur to 3 busy kids; the president of her Home and School Association; and VP of Marketing for TipsFromTown. And she's passionate about all 3!

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