I looked under beds. I looked in closets. I looked online (familywatchdog). I even looked into the eyes of the men in my family. I kept a vigilant watch for the bogey man, the one the evening news warned about, the pedophile that lurks among us. Having been a victim of sexual harassment, molestation, and rape on separate occasions, I'm always on the lookout, trying to protect my kids. Well, Friday, I found out that I failed.
While I had forbidden my sons from attending sleepovers until they were old enough to call me and say no (age 13 or there about depending on observed maturity), even kept my youngest from going over his father's house unless I knew their itinerary, a pervert, wrapped in the disarming package of a 2nd grader, got to my son. He touched him in the private area. My son didn't share this with me until years later. He's now a 6th grader.
All this time, I had a feeling something was wrong, I just didn't know what. Because my son was diagnosed with ADD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder, or something like that), it was easy to brush the increasing behavior problems off as symptoms or displays of his issues. But more and more was I starting to notice sexuality rearing its ugly head. First, it was the sites I found in my internet history, not once but twice. Result: banned from the internet unless an adult is present at all times. The discussion turned up disturbing conversations 4th grade boys were having amongst themselves as well as equally disturbing behavior. I removed my son from that school and it was a "good" school.
Then it was the use of vernacular (not used in my or his father's household) towards another student at the new school, another "good" school. Finally, it was the male member drawn on paper during class and tossed at a fellow student at yet another "good" school and it had only been in session for 5 days. The pattern showed my son was the problem. Something was wrong and I pressed for an answer. What I got stilled my heart. He was touched. The bogey man found him. I failed. I failed. I failed.
And I can't help but recall a dream my son mentioned to me. As he was being devoured by an alligator, he screamed for help and I couldn't hear him. I didn't save him. At the time he shared it with me, it scared me so much that I changed my plans of moving to New York to pursue a career in writing/acting. I would have brought him with me but it was a land of strangers. So here I remain in Miami.
My son has been changed and I didn't help him. I'm saddened by this fact, scared of what it might all mean for the future, powerless to change the past. And I also wonder about that little boy, the one who was known for misbehaving and throwing tantrums. I wonder if he was acting out because he, too, was being touched. Only adults have the power to pervert the innocent. Or so I thought.
This parenting stuff is hard.