My Dearest 5YO:
I can’t believe we’re here again. I can’t believe it’s my voice apologizing to you for missing what happened, even though I was standing right next to you. And I can’t believe that I’m saying this again, but it’s still true and I hope you believe it: it’s not your fault.
It’s not your fault that that creepy man approached you while I was looking the other way. It’s not your fault that he touched your back. It’s not your fault that he hovered around us until we left the store and winked at you while I struggled with your sister. It’s not your fault that he followed us out to the car, squeezed between our car and the one next to us, stopped directly at your window and waved at you. It’s not. Your. Fault.
We’ve talked a lot about strangers, people who are just being nice, and being respectful to others even if we don’t want to. We haven’t talked a lot about being aware of our surroundings and our gut instincts, but now that we’re here, I want you to know that your instincts were SPOT ON. And whispering to me about it in the middle of the store took a lot of courage, especially since he was watching us as you did it.
Sweetie, he made my tummy feel yucky too. Even if you hadn’t told me what you did, I would’ve left the area as soon as I spotted him. There was just something, something I can’t explain, that made me uneasy about him. And you’re right, he didn’t “touch you on a private area,” and he might have just been “being nice,” but it made you feel uncomfortable. I’m proud that you identified how you felt, told me about it, and knew that the right thing to do was leave.
You did everything right. EVERYTHING. Most people are safe, and we don’t want to spend our lives fearing the ones who might not be. Instead, we stick together, pay attention to what’s around us, and always, ALWAYS tell each other what we’re thinking. Even if we feel like we’ve said it a million times before.
Thank you for talking to me about it until your tummy felt better. Thank you for trusting me to keep you safe, even though I feel like I keep missing things I should be anticipating and preventing. And thank you for letting me sing “You Don’t Have to Worry No More” until you fell asleep:
I’m not sure which one of us needed it more.
I will be here/ year after years/ roll like waves to their shore/ You don’t have to worry no more