This entry originally appeared on January 31, 2010 at 3:13 PM.
Last week, my daughter’s friend and schoolmate told her that she had a “secret.” The secret was that, whenever her older brother got out of the shower, if no one else was home, they would have sex.
My daughter and her friend are both 5.
After my daughter told me this secret, which she rightly suspected seemed “off,” I turned the car around and drove immediately back to her school, where I tracked down the girls’ teacher and told her what the friend had told my daughter. I made no judgment in my retelling as to whether I thought this was true or not, just reported what had been said and put it in her hands. The next day, the friend’s mother picked her up from school, so I assumed things were okay. The day after that, it was the girl’s grandfather. She hasn’t been back to school since then. So I guess it was true. A five year old girl should have secrets about magic and dreams and glittery wands, about easter baskets and kisses on the cheek under the slide, not being penetrated by her brother’s penis when there is no one around to keep her safe. This is more to me than just the loss of innocence, this is a complete obliteration of it, the sucking dry of a life that was only newly struck when it got pulled down.
I have spent the week trying to wrap my mind around the entire thing, while dealing with the questions of my daughter, who still dimly feels she is under a cloud of trouble or suspicion for having this secret with her friend. She has asked me why kids can’t have sex, why family members can’t have sex, and why her friend’s brother would want to hurt her; whether her friend will still want to be her friend when she comes back to school, if she comes back at all, what is going to happen to her friend now, and why her friend cannot stay with her parents if it was her brother who was the problem. Dealing with her questions and keeping her close during the day has occupied my mind. But it’s not so easy at night, when she is asleep, and I am asking myself some of the same questions.
I did not believe there were evil people, just evil decisions, until a friend of mine died violently. It changed my view. I don’t think evil is an excuse, or a disability. I still think it’s a choice, but it’s a more overarching and wholly tarring choice than I originally perceived. For a long while after my friend died, I was obsessed with crime and criminals, afraid to leave my house, dreading that the same thing would happen to me. My daughter’s birth came within a few years of my friend’s death, and I think — I know — that my paranoia increased. After my marriage and move to another state, I isolated myself and my daughter completely in our house and told myself I was finally safe and happy.
Neither of these was true. There is no way to escape a dark place that isn’t a physical reality, but a pit in your mind, that keeps dragging you back down. I’ve done my best, I think. I recognized my unhappiness, I stopped running, I emerged, and I took my daughter with me, but to what end?; I’ve brought her to the only place I’ve ever lived and actually felt safe, put us both back out in the sunshine, so to speak, and now evil is already intruding in her short life. It makes a moment when she will be taken from me by some less-than-human person seem inevitable. It haunts me, it suffocates me, this idea. It is breathtakingly terrifying. I really don’t know what to do.
That’s all I can say for now. It’s too upsetting.
edit: What I’ve come to since then is this. I cannot control other people (yet — as soon as I get Professor X to lift this block, I am gonna rule the crap out of all y’all, so just a heads-up; don’t worry, I’ll be mainly benevolent) , but I can control how I respond to the events in my life, and I can control how I prepare my daughter for the good and the bad in life. My main goal now is to make sure she understands essential safety precautions and recognizes dicey situations without descending in to the prickly-sweated paranoia of her mother.
As an example, the unlock button on my key fob is going bad and when it took a couple clicks to open the doors not too long ago, I said to Miss D, “I really need to get it fixed because what if someone is chasing me through a parking lot and that’s the night it finally gives up the ghost?” So I guess I want the kidlet to be less like me and more like herself, only a safe but still innocent one. So again, to answer the question posed in the graffiti: “Can I inoculate my child against the looming darkness? No.”
Tags: a confession, agoraphobia, confession, divorce, graffiti, images, It happens, kidlet, laser 314, Liberating Negative Space, love, only assholes write on walls, photography, Pictures, quotes, Self-audit