sleepovers and other matters

Our daughters spent their early childhood elsewhere. Not home, under our supervision, protection and care. Their transition to our home was slow and steady. Small steps. We prepared our home for them and we prepared them to come live with us.

They cried to go back. If not the first night, definitely the second night. I did not sleep much during that time. I did my very best to help them feel comfortable and safe. I was so attuned to their needs, their requests, I read into every sigh or tear or whisper for wants.

I was overly aware of their reactions and I actually looked for signs of any abuse. Without losing my hope in the goodness of others, I am suspicious and I am overly cautious.

They haven’t been exposed to inappropriate behavior and I would like to keep it that way.

That being said: I read a statistic that said that more than whopping percentage of sexual abuse happens during sleepovers. “More than 90 percent of child sexual abuse happens by someone you or your kid knows and trusts. More than 30 percent of the time the abuse happens within your own family. Roughly 40 percent are abused by older or more powerful children.”

Since adopting our daughters, only Jackie had two sleepovers and the first one of them I was invited too. I didn’t sleep much. The girls whispered and giggled and went to bed late. I do not care for sleepovers. I have only one friends I trusted Jackie to go with, without me. This amazing woman hosted four girls I know and they did their makeup and ate junk food and watched a movie together.

Ivy does not want to sleep anywhere else without us. She tolerates the grandparents house, because it is crowded usually, but she says her bed is the most comfortable. She is an introvert who likes her own space.

I do my due diligence and help educate my daughters. I want them to learn to trust their instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, run. Ask for help. Tell me.

To be honest, if feels like danger lurks at every corner. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t brush it off. Don’t shut down your instinct. Get up and do something about it.

Ah, and most importantly, when you will say no to your kids, you will not be popular. The girls cried crocodile tears when we didn’t let them out after dark to play with the neighborhood boys. I told them my goal is not to be a popular mom but to be a good mom. And that particular night, my instinct said to stay put.

Conrad jokes about letting the girls have sleepovers at our friends. Some couples whom our girls love. Conrad is being a bit daring, trying to give people a real taste of parenting.

A decade ago we offered to stay the weekend with our godson and his older brothers. The kids were 2 and 3 years old. It was exhausting and we loved it. But we wouldn’t have done it again any time soon. The parents, good friends of ours, needed a weekend away, and we thought we knew what we were doing. Feeding, diaper changing, teeth brushing, entertaining. Time dilated and it is different than taking care of your own kids. More intense.

That being said: Jackie has gone to summer camp, with a very strict program.

The best defense is teaching them to practice defense. Be vigilant. Be aware. And not exposing them unnecessarily to danger. We talk often about appropriate behavior, about sex, according to their age and understanding, we name the body parts, and which and why they are private. There are a few great books out there to guide your conversations. Or to help you get started.

They have stumbled upon confusing and inappropriate content on other people’s smart phones. They told me about it. Our children’s minds are assaulted from all directions, more than they are physically in danger. But we try and find that balance of learning to enjoy the world as safe and beautiful, and steering clear from dangerous situations. So help us God.