Monday, July 11, 2011
My Body Is Private
Why? It's probably a combination of things. It's a book that has been kicking around our house for years because I am nothing, if not a neurotic parent. I bought it when Child #1 was about five and read it to her repeatedly until I was certain she understood the message. I tucked it away on a bookshelf for Child #2 when he was ready and there it sat, untended and forgotton about for the last four years.
A couple of months ago I heard a third hand story about a case of child sexual molestation. It had all of the makings of something that would keep me up at nights (parents were unable to prove the case, someone the child knew, the victim was in the same age bracket as my own children) but somehow the whole story slipped out of my mind before I had that important conversation with my children.
A month (or two) passed and I heard the story again from someone else. Again I vowed to sit my children down and have a talk with them and again I let it slide. Then, this morning at my gym I forgot to bring my headphones. Instead of pounding music to keep me going on the treadmill it would have to be subtitles on T.V. And lo and behold the local news was doing a piece about sexual predators. Except it was more than just a piece about sexual predators, it was a piece about sexual predators at swimming pools in Portland.
The symmetry was too much. My kids are swimmers. They even swim at some of the pools shown in the clip...in my neighborhood. This was the third time I'd heard about sexual predators in as many months. It felt like the universe was giving me a shake and saying "GO TALK TO YOUR KIDS."
So I did! I dug out our neglected copy of My Body Is Private by Linda Walvoord Girard and read it out loud to my kids.
"Any questions?" I chirped after the main character hugs her dad good night and says she's glad that 'most touching is a good thing.'
"No, no, we've got it," said Child #1. "Everything under the swim suit is private, no one touches it and if they ask to touch, go tell a grown up."
"Yeah," said Child #2 which is what he often says after his sister talks so he may be in for another private reading tonight.
All I can do is hope they'll file this information away with all the other emergency information they learn. Like the book says "You don't need to worry about it; you just need to know what to do--the way you know what to do if a fire starts."
If you haven't already talked to your children about this sensitive subject, please, please make time for it. This is me, out in the internet-cosmos, reaching out to you to give you a gentle shake and reminder. And if you need a helping hand, as I did, My Body Is Private strikes all the right notes.