Please God, don’t let me cry in front of the kids like the massive weenie that I am…
…that’s all I could think on the bus ride Friday for our school’s Water Ski Club. The kids were snarfing granola bars and the whole bus reeked of dripping rash guards and orange peels. I was busy wrestling the ski harness off a first-grader when two heads popped over the seat in front.
“We had the ‘kids getting hurt video’ today.” said Alex in a conversational way. It took me a minute to remember that he was discussing the abuse prevention video that I’d signed a permission slip for. Ally, one of the teachers, had to hide in the hallway so the kids wouldn’t see her cry. “It was intense,” she moaned. “Age appropriate for the kids but totally not for me!” The sixth graders were serious but not frightened, she said.
I fell back on my head-shrinking roots and parrotted my psychiatrist dad’s favorite phrase. “How did that make you feel?”
“It’s okay.” mumbled Charles.
“Just okay?” I said, swallowing hard. “Any…any questions?” I could feel the perspiration pooling in my t-shirt. I’m the Queen of Flop Sweat.
“Well,” said Alex, “one of the kids in the video got hurt. Really bad. He said he was scared to tell anyone.”
Back sweat was suddenly the least of my problems. “So, what did the video tell you to do?”
Charles was first, “we were supposed to find a Safe Adult and tell them someone was trying to hurt us.”
“That’s right!” I praised, “exactly!”
Alex chimed in and ruined my clean getaway. “How do we know it’s a Safe Adult? What if we thought the adult hurting us was safe?”
My stupid, weenie, blubbering mommy self was one tear duct away from a full meltdown. “A…a Safe Adult is someone who listens to you when you talk about anything, funny or serious. A Safe Adult keeps their promises to you.”
Alex thought about this. “Would you be my Safe Adult?”
“Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry you massive weenie!” I thought as I hugged him and said “of course I am your Safe Adult!”
I was not prepared for the reality that when I became a mother to our little ones, every child became my child. Stories of abuse and neglect that were before upsetting were now unspeakable. The abuse prevention video is good. It is good that the sixth graders at our school know to find a Safe Adult. I went home and cried in our walk in closet because any child would have to.
Parent or not, I hope every one of us will become someone’s Safe Adult.