Monday, June 6, 2011

"And Then They Stole My Pants, Mom!"

Despite what you may think when reading the title, this post is actually about something very serious that every parent needs to hear.  I hate that I am sitting here typing this, I hate it that I can talk about something like this.  The thing is, no matter how well you watch you kids, things out of your control will happen.  It happened to us today, and they say there isn't anything I can do about it, but I refuse to sit around feeling helpless, so I am going to tell you what happened to us today so that you can know some of the dangers out there that sometimes we just don't see coming.  I take no pride in sharing this story, only shame, regret and feeling a bit like a failure from preventing it from happening in the first place.

Warning:  I use a word in this post that isn't family friendly.  But I have to use it to explain to the full extent of what happened today.

Today, since the boys have been so well behaved lately, I wanted to take them out to lunch for a treat.  Their favorite place to go is the new Chick-fil-a here in town.  They love the play area and I love it too (despite the germs) because it has big windows all around it and I can watch them play and eat my lunch in peace because I can't hear them being all loud.  If there is a fight or what-not I can see it or they come out and tattle.  I especially keep an eye out for bullies, since Sam seems to be a bully-magnet.

They ate their lunch super fast so they could go play.  They looked so cute in their little hats.  I snapped this picture for Ben.

Then, while the boys were playing, lunch hour came and it started getting busy.  A bunch of kids came and went in the play area too. One of the kids was a little to big for the play area, like 11 or 12 years old, but he was in there with his little brother and sister (about Sam's age) and I thought maybe he was just supervising his siblings so his parents could eat in peace.

All the kids had left but my boys and this older boy and siblings.  They all seemed to be playing nice.  Then about 10-15 min later their mom called them out to leave.  I watched them go, then Sam came out without his pants.  I didn't think much of it, I was only irritated because he is going through that "no-pants" phase, but he had NEVER taken them off in public like this before.  I told him to go get his pants back on.  He tried to tell me something but I ignored him and told him he was in big trouble if he didn't go get his pants on now.  He went back into the play area and looked around.  Then I had to climb up there and look too.  No pants.

What the heck?  Where could they have gone?

So I asked him.

"The big kid took them!"  He told me tears coming to his eyes.  Alright, I gave him a break.  So I took him up to the manager and told them that some kid took off with Sam's pants and if they turned up if they would call me.

Sam started crying for his lost pants as I took him to the car.  At first I laughed about it.  Only Sam would lose his pants and get them stolen.  But then I suddenly got this feeling that something was very, VERY wrong.  So I asked him:

"Sam, why did the big kid steal your pants?"

"Because he was hurting my penis and I hit him!" He told me.  Suddenly this feeling of complete sickness and dread filled my complete body and I thought I was going to lose my lunch right there in parking lot.

"He touched your penis?" I asked very calmly, I didn't want to freak out in front of him.

"Yes, and the little girl pulled my penis!  It hurt!  I kicked and hit and made them go away, but they took my pants!"

My stomach turned again.

Luckily I had a friend with me so she stayed in the car with the baby and Nephi and I took Sam back inside.  I talked to the manager and filed an incident report... which will probably be filed away and forgotten.  I really didn't know what I could do!  It isn't like they have cameras in there.  I am sure it happened up in one of those tubes where you can't see what's going on.  But you wouldn't think that children would do that to each other!  And I was right there watching!!

I called my dad, an ex-cop, to know if I should go to the police.  He told me there isn't any thing that they could do.  No witnesses.  It would be Sam's word against the other kids, and what parent would believe their "perfect" children would molest other kids in a public place?  He told me that Sam's reaction depends on how big of deal I make out it.  I told my dad that it was a big deal!  He then said that the best thing I could do for Sam is just to talk to him about not letting people steal his pants and touch his privates.  That he is still young and innocent enough not to let it get to him if I play it cool.  He told me to make sure I play it up how strong and good he was to fight those people who stole his pants.

I realized that he was right.  I could throw a stink about it, maybe they could find the kids from Chick-Fil-A cameras, but there is no proof and Sam can't talk well enough for people to really understand him.  But what I can do is warn other parents about the dangers of letting your kids play in places you can't see them at all times.  It hurts my heart to say it, but there it is.  You can't watch your child ALL the time.  I thought I was.  I was RIGHT there!  But I can't see them in those tubes at all times.  We often think of teenagers or older people when we think of perverts and molesters.  But sadly, I found out today that children can be perverts and sickos too!

Parents, just be careful and know what is going on out there.  We live in a pretty safe community and I am just sick about the whole thing.  It angers me that I feel so helpless!  If I can stop it from happening to your kiddos just by spreading the news, then I am glad I wrote this post no matter how hard it was to do it.  I feel like a bad mom for not knowing what was going on, but at the same time I don't know what I could have done differently!  It's so frustrating!  I know I can't be there all the time, but I am glad that Sam's guardian angel was and helped him fend them off when I couldn't be there.

I sat the boys down after I talked to my dad and we had a little talk about people "stealing pants."  I told them that if anyone tries to take their pants off or touch them in their privates, that it is okay to hit and kick them and then run and tell mommy.  Sam was pretty happy about this.  Never have I told him it was okay to hit and kick other people, but in his mind I suppose stealing pants is a good a reason if any to open a can of whoop.

So I wanted to make sure he understood me so I asked him:

"Sam, what do you do if someone tries to take your pants again?"

"I will hit and kick them and tell mommy!"

"That's right!" I told him and gave him a big hug.  But he wasn't done...

"Then I will get my big gun with big bullets and I will shoot them!  Then I will throw markers at them!!"

I think he got the point... He was more upset about his pants stolen then the other stuff.  I mean, seriously, stealing pants is unforgivable!



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PS- Just for the record, I don't blame Chick-Fil-A for any of this.  Sam is my responsibly and hopefully this will teach me to watch better and have them in play places with less hiding places.

Update:  Thanks to everyone's comments and emails, I did call the police department and filed a report.  You all had some excellent points, and I do, in fact, worry about the safety of the other children involved.

16 comments:

Samantha @ three birds on a branch said...

There are tears streaming down my face. OMG. That is so terrible. I'm so sorry that happened to Sam. I don't have any advice for what you can do but I am going to share this post to get the word out.

Jill said...

I, too, am glad a guardian angel was there to help Sam know what to do to protect himself. Kids like ours with the speech problems always seem to be a target with this kind of thing because they won't tell or can't tell. I'm glad Sam could tell you and did tell you.

You sharing this with other parents is the best thing you can do. I am sure it was hard to write this post. I am proud of you for doing it. I'm sure the tears, anger, and frustration will come and go. I know you know the Comforter can give you the comfort and peace of mind you need.

My mother heart is aching with you and for you. Thank you again for sharing. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Marley said...

My name is April Loposky and a friend of a friend shared your blog with me. First let me start by saying I am so sorry for what happened to Sam today and secondly my 7 year old daughter is a survivor of rape and attempted murder by a stranger who broke into our home.
As a mother I disagree with your father. It is a BIG deal! It's bigger that you and me and Sam and the "big kid". In my opinion the "big kid" is most likely being abused along with his sister and by ignoring it and doing nothing you are allowing other children to get hurt and sending a message to Sam that he may not understand. I have no clue what age Sam is but I know my daughter had to go through "good touch, bad touch" in school and we chose to take her out of school that day because she may not understand why it's bad and allowed to happen.
I think a second talk with the manager about the video tape (because I'm sure the mother and son were caught on tape at some point)and a police report are in order. To do nothing about the situation means many more children WILL get hurt.
I would also like to suggest a book called My body belongs to me. I can't recall the authors name right now but I remember reading it to my daughter after the "bad thing happened" It was hard to get through but it helped.
Also to read more about my daughter and how we are helping other children please visit www.marleysmission.com

Ana said...

Having been a victim of sexual abuse as a child, I think I'm going to side with April. Mostly because I am very aware that it's rare that there is only one victim. It's true maybe nothing will be done, and maybe they won't care, but to not try at all seems unfair to both Sam and anyone else this boy may hurt. Not to mention that more than likely this is a boy that needs a LOT of help. He won't get it if everyone looks the other way.

Clearly, you have to do what you think you can, and I suspect Sam will be okay, but after what happened to me, I know I would not have stayed silent if this happened to my son.

Vale's Mom said...

Hi, I found your blog via April Loposky and I have to second a lot of her comments. Please note that this is not a condemnation of any of your actions. You did everything you could, but unfortunately, as April and I can both tell you, horrible things happen. I'm disappointed in the ex-policemen's advice. It seemed to lay partial blame on an innocent, although I'm sure his intent was to be pragmatic and realistic and possibly protect your child from further trauma.

Chik-fil-a is known for being a Christian based quick service restaurant. I think they would be appalled by this and would want to support you. My husband who does run a different quick service restaurant noted that would an incident like this to occur at his store, he would have called the police, turned over any available video tape etc. Not only would my husband's actions be dictated by understanding a parents need for safety (having a son who was raped at a young age) but from a liability standpoint the Chik-fil-a should do more. I would encourage you to push this to a higher level. My fear is that should you not, you'll always regret it.

Lastly, I would humbly caution you in thinking that because your son is so young that there will not be any fallout. By God's grace, there won't be, but be prepared for the possibility.

I applaud you for blogging about this, and being so completely honest. Your post will most assuredly aid other parents and I will help you in that by posting it on my blog, featuring it on our Facebook page and tweeting about it. Take care of yourself through this and throw off all self incrimination. It helps no one. =) May God bless you.

~Vale's Mom

Bridget said...

That is so, so, so awful! I am absolutely sick that this happened to him! My prayers will be with you guys and it just makes me absolutely furious that there are so many sad people out there that are hurting children. Good luck with everything and Sam is a serious trooper for fighting them off!

madameladauphine said...

When I was 5 years old, I was attacked in the ravine behind my house by a boy who was 17 years old. He tried to rape me, but I was too small for him to "get it in". He also tried to choke me. I went home and told my Mom right away and she called the police.

The police officer and my family Dr. told my parents that I probably wouldn't remember it and there would be no sense in discussing it when I was older. They were wrong. I remember everything. And because it was never discussed, I felt like I had done something wrong.

I'm so glad that you have called the police and made a report, but it's also very important to talk about it with Sam. Now, and often.

Cammy said...

Oh Cat, I am SOOO sorry. Reading your post just made me ill. It is so hard knowing that sometimes despite all our efforts their isn't anything we can do to avoid something like this. Please don't be too hard on yourself, you ARE a good parent.

Also, I was thinking the same thing that many others have already posted about the boy and his sister most likely being a victims. Just breaks my heart on all accounts. Sending a HUGE HUG your way.

Damaris said...

I am so sorry that happened. That is so awful for all of you. Thank you for sharing this story. I realize I need to talk to my kids a bit more about what to do in this sort of situation. We'll be praying for you as you work through this.

Jill said...

We have the book "The Right Touch." But I think I'm going to follow one readers suggestion of "My Body Belongs to Me." It is only $8 on amazon.

Shan B. said...

Cat....I'm fighting back tears because this is one of my biggest fears ever!!! I'm glad you filed reports even if nothing happens but you have to do what you can. It's so hard to watch them every single second of every single day...I hope that your dad is right & Sam only remembers the pants being stolen. Good luck with everything & thank you for sharing because we all need to be aware & be a little more careful.

Vale's Mom said...

So glad to read about your update, that you filed a police report. Not only did you take a stand for your son but for these (apparently) damaged children as well. It must have been dreadfully hard! So proud of you!

Ruth said...

Saw your update about reporting to police- those other children hopefully will be found and get the help they need. They have been abused themselves and are probably victims still. I am sorry to hear about your little boy's experience but you did the right thing. And for someone who lived through abuse as a child I would say- go with what your heart and prayers tell you about what to do for Sam in the future talks. Heavenly Father will guide you. Sounds like you have a smart boy on your hands- he knew at the time not to allow that to happen which is why he fought back! GOOD FOR YOU - you have already taught him well. We can only hawk parent so long- at some point they have to go to school and be entrusted with others... we can TEACH THEM TO PROTECT THEMSELVES.

Angela said...

This made my stomach turn! This is one of my biggest fears as a mom. It scares even when they are at school because kids are pantsing each other and who knows what other kids are talking about around our kids. So scary!! I'm glad you talked about it and all the comments help as well. Thanks!

Amy said...

It broke my heart to hear about this Cat. I am so terribly afraid for our kids to grow up in this world, and fear for their safety every single day. I just have to do the best I can.. and hope that angels watch over them.

The Borja Family said...

There is a new book, made by Christians, called Yell and Tell. It's a simple rhyming book that explains the "bad touch" and the need to tell everyone around regardless of what the abuser threatens to do.

I am so very sorry. This is every parents greatest fear. I'll be praying for you.