On First Days and Having the “Stranger Talk”

By Shawna Ervin

Later this week I’ll drop off both of my kids at preschool. For the first time. My son will go to pre-kindergarten, my daughter to preschool. She’s not even three yet, kids backpacks school (3) but has been begging to go. So, I’ll send her. Next week. I’ll pack a lunch, walk her into her class, hug her and then walk out of the building. Alone.

How did I get here? What happened to my daughter, her small body and hair that stuck straight up? What happened to my baby boy, his bald head and large toothless smile? When did these babies and toddlers grow into preschoolers?

I’ll drop them off and say goodbye, as I’ve been slowly doing ever since they’ve been a part of our family. Part of parenting is the constant juggling between hanging on and letting go. Often I wonder if I’m strong enough to either hang on or let go. I’m strong enough for one moment at a time.

As I think about walking out of that preschool for the first time not holding a small hand, I am anxious. I am excited. I can hardly wait to have three hours all to myself – twice a week. I am worried about my little boy and little girl. Are they ready for this? Am I?

Before they go I know we need to update our talk about strangers and sexual abuse. Oh, help. Will I be triggered when I look into my kids’ trusting, wide eyes and start this talk? Will I be able to keep my composure? Will I have the right words to tell them about safe and unsafe people, about good touches and bad touches? I don’t know. But I do know this is one conversation that needs to happen.

Because I needed someone to tell me this. bike school (3)Because my kids need me to tell them, to be prepared and aware, to know I am here to protect, to listen, even when they think maybe they shouldn’t say something. I hope they never have to come to me to tell me about a bad touch, a dangerous situation or about a friend who is scared or hurt. But they need to know.  Being prepared is worth the pain of this conversation, for all of us. So I will tell them.

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