F THAT DOOR

Last night’s and today’s headlines about the nanny killing those two precious children really affected me.  I’m praying for that family today because not only is it the greatest loss, it was the doing of someone they trusted…..and someone their children trusted. I can’t imagine a greater pain.  And you know those parents will look back at every. little. thing. and wonder if there was a sign or something they could have done. And the answer is: probably not.  This post is about my attempt to protect my daughter from bad things and learning to let go at the same time….and the fine line between the two.  It is not a commentary on what could have been done to prevent such a tragedy.  The headlines just got me thinking in the shower this morning…..and here’s the jumbled thoughts that resulted:

*****

I think I’m a pretty laid back parent (I mean I did let my child change her name, right?)  If Boo trips and falls I’m not one to make a big deal about it.  I let her fail at things so that she can learn from her own mistakes. I try and teach her to do the right thing.  One of the hardest things for me recently was to let Boo go out of town for a field trip to the pumpkin patch.  I was just getting back from San Francisco and couldn’t go with her.  The trip was on a highway….the school bus didn’t have seat belts….I didn’t know the driver.  I talked with Boo about it and I think she was more excited about the school bus than the actual field trip.  I imagined her disappointment at not having that chance and my decision was made: she rode the bus.  A million terrifying scenarios ran through my head about what could happen but I knew I had to let her go.  I’d already told her stories about how I rode the bus when I was little…..like how I had a crush on the bus driver because he was a fireman…..and how when kids threw up on the bus he took us to the firehouse and used the fire hose to blast the vomit out the back door.  I’d already built the school bus into a grand thing….it would be worse not to let her go…..because it would be a decision based on my fears….not hers.

*****

When we were renovating our house a few years ago, I was adamant about one thing: the alarm system. When I was a kid, we had a panic button in each room of the house (I used to tell my friends that was why my parents bought the house…..not really true…..but it made a good story).  So, when our new security was installed, I insisted on multiple alarm key pads….one in every section of the house…..and I wanted the alarm system to announce exactly which door opened.  Anyone new who enters the house kind of does a double take because while it says “FAULT – BACK DOOR“…..it distinctly sounds like “F*CK THAT DOOR“…..the lady in the alarm cloud doesn’t enunciate very well.  I mainly wanted this feature on our door because if the alarm system goes off in the middle of the night, I would like to know WHICH door or window was breached without having to send Mr. LBB through the entire house with a baseball bat (that NEVER ends well if you’ve watched Lifetime Movie Network for any length of time).

About two years ago, I was taking a shower while Boo was watching TV and I heard our alarm yell out “F*CK THAT DOOR“….translation: the front door had been opened.   I jumped out of the shower in a panic and ran in my towel to the front door and found Boo chatting with the UPS guy and accepting a package.  I was polite, thanked him, but the second the door closed I went ballistic:

Don’t you EVER do that again! Don’t you EVER open a door in this house without Mommy or Daddy!  You could be kidnapped! Do you know what kidnappers do?

Apparently I was a little dramatic because my mother-in-law told me that when she and Boo went to get their nails done Boo went into an elaborate story about how:

There are strangers that take children. They are called kidnappers. They take them away so they never see their parents again. And they do awful things to them. Sometimes they kill them. Or starve them. Very, very bad things.

 

But then…….Boo asked a few days later: can I open the front door if there is a fire in the house?

And I wondered how I would ever be able to fully prepare her for life without it all to being too confusing…..even to myself.

*****

I struggle with the whole “respecting adults” idea.  I’m big on respect. Boo is expected to say “yes ma’am, no ma’am” and “yes sir, no sir” to all adults.  I was expected to when I was a kid.  I’m very adamant that she doesn’t have to hug adults….she can politely decline…..and I’ve never asked her to kiss an adult……even if they are family.  I leave it up to her. I’m not a huge hugger….and I’m definitely not a kisser.

My whole viewpoint changed a few years ago with what I call the ultimate betrayal. I wrote about it but just a recap…..as the Christmas season started approaching, Boo started telling me that she would NOT be going to see Santa.  She asked if she could just write him a letter instead. I promised her, over and over, that she would NOT have to see Santa. But then…..Santa surprised the kids at the school Christmas event…..and I was paralyzed…..not wanting to offend anyone. And Boo didn’t want to offend anyone.  So against all her will and fear and everything she stood for…..she climbed up on Santa’s lap.  Trying not to cry she put on a forced smile and tried to act as polite as she could. It makes me tear up just looking at this photo…..she looks so sad and betrayed. She wouldn’t even look at me….she just stared off in the distance:

FCK THAT DOOR: Standing up for your kiddos via lilblueboo.com

That night, I made myself and Boo a promise…..that I would stand up for her….just because everyone else is doing something, doesn’t mean it’s right for her. Last year, Boo and the same Santa (who just happens to be the husband of her teacher….unbeknownst to Boo) had a short conversation with 15 feet of space in between them. It was fine for both of them.  I can guarantee you that Santa is never thrilled to have a scared, screaming kid on his lap. 

*****

It’s impossible to protect our children from everything…..but we do our best.  No sane parent would ever deliberately put their child in a dangerous situation. I try and arm Boo with all the tools she needs without giving her nightmares.  I try and explain that not all adults are good people.

I’ve been teaching Boo that it is okay to question adults and authority if her heart is telling her that something isn’t right.  Just because Mommy and Daddy know someone, doesn’t mean they are always right.  Just because someone has a badge, doesn’t always mean they are always good people inside.  Some people can fool Mommy and Daddy too. And most importantly, Mommy and Daddy do not always know everything. I try to tell her stories about how I stood up for myself even when I knew I might get in trouble….so she has examples.  I told her how I once had a mean babysitter who would put us to bed too early even when we were hungry…..so I would sneak and steal food. And although I got in trouble with the sitter, my parents never hired her again. Or how one babysitter would say rude things to my little sister and I would stand up to her.  I wasn’t afraid to stand up to adults when I was younger because I knew that my parents were reasonable and fair.

About a week ago, Boo had been getting her Flat Stanleys in the mail and she kept asking to take them to school.  I reread the letter from the teacher and it said that they had until Thanksgiving to get them all back which I assumed meant they wouldn’t bring them to school until after Thanksgiving.  I told Boo over and over that she couldn’t take them to school.  She would tell me that the other kids were bringing them to school to share them and my response was: well, they aren’t following the rules. It turns out, they WERE allowed to bring them to school. And Boo sat at her desk day after day as her other classmates presented their Flat Stanley’s to the class, feeling so sad that she wasn’t able to share hers……until she got the courage to ask her teacher: Will you please call my mom and tell her that I can bring my Flat Stanleys to class?

Her teacher emailed me during lunch….and within seconds I was up at the school with Boo’s Flat Stanleys…..feeling pretty much like the worst mom ever.  And I told Boo afterwards:

I was so glad that you asked your teacher to explain to Mommy why she was wrong.
Anytime you think someone is wrong about something….speak up!
You did the right thing. I’m so proud of you.


And so today I’m trying to listen to my daughter more closely….because sometimes the voice of a 5-year-old CAN be the voice of reason.  And if her big heart is telling her that something isn’t right, it probably isn’t.  And I want her to know that she can speak up.  (and that doesn’t EVER mean that she has a license to be bratty or snarky…..)  And really it all comes down to teaching myself too….that it’s okay for me to question adults and authority too.  I need to listen to that little voice inside me more often. And that’s all I can do.

Comments

comments

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. 1

    Thanks for this post. I struggle this every day with my children….especially with my 14 and 12 year old!! Knowing when to trust someone and listening to your gut!! So important!!

  2. 2

    Don’t feel too bad about the Flat Stanleys! When my son started Kindergarten (which was 1/2 day Kindergarten), we packed him a lunch and a snack, assuming that they ate lunch at the school before they came home. That’s what they did in preschool so we assumed it would be the same in Kindergarten. Well, my son came home the first day and ate everything in his lunch so we didn’t think anything of it. The next day he came home and was STARVING. We kept telling him “you already had lunch” and he kept insisting that he didn’t. Well, I checked his book bag after dinner and there was his lunch! In Kindergarten they just have a snack and are supposed to eat lunch at home. I felt like the worst mother ever! The poor kid was hungry and I kept telling him no. We all make mistakes :)

  3. 3

    I’m a “new” mom to a 9 month old and loved reading this, thanks for sharing. I think raising a child can be the scariest thing in the world sometimes. I read this blog a couple of months ago and thought it was a great way to teach kids about strangers, so thought I’d share: http://www.checklistmommy.com/2012/02/09/tricky-people-are-the-new-strangers/

  4. 4
    Beth Morrow says:

    Well said! I have raised five. I always Tried to teach them to be respectful, but to be discerning. Some learned better than others. Some are still learning, but they have all survived the “I don’t know everything, but I love you with my whole heart and will always try to teach you and guide you with the help of the Lord saga.”. Hang in there, it is a different world that your Boo and my grandkids are being raised in today. You are surrounding her with love and that covers a multitude of sins/mistakes!
    Love ya,
    Beth

  5. 5

    Ashley, I remember being where you are so well, and still am sometimes, Our oldest is 20, and I have learned as many lessons from him and our other 2 children as I have taught them. You are doing a beautiful job, its good to question yourself, and good to have your parenting tree shook up from time to time. Your daughter is growing up strong and smart, with your guidance and blessings. Rock on Mama!!

  6. 6

    I gotta say, when you talk about parenting they end up being some of my favorite posts.

    You are doing a wonderful job raising that little girl!

  7. 7

    You’re a great mom, Ashley! It’s so different these days than when we were raising our daughter. There are so many more challenges. There are lots of wonderful moms out there, thank God. You and my daughter are among them. Thank you for sharing this.

  8. 8

    Wonderfully said- :)

  9. 9

    *love* your parenting posts! I needed to hear this—even though my youngest is 8 and my oldest is 14. The lesson never gets old.
    I’m so thankful you mentioned standing up for your kids….I’ve been in situations before as well, not wanting to make someone else feel bad but putting my kids in awkward situations as a result.
    Thank you Ashley!!

  10. 10

    I so need to revisit this topic w/my kids. Thanks for thinking out loud. I’ve been praying for this family since I heard about it. It’s anyone’s worst nightmare. I can’t imagine how they will find the strength to get through this and with the one surviving child all the while probably so confused, scared and sad. Oh, it just makes my heart hurt.

  11. 11
    Charlotte says:

    Listening to the “little voice inside” reminded me of a book that a friend of mine made me read when she found out I live alone:

    http://gavindebecker.com/resources/book/the_gift_of_fear/

    Really good info.

  12. 13

    You are an awesome mom. Anyone who can decipher between a child who is refusing to do something because of sheer naughtiness or complete fear, deserves an award, because that’s just a hard line to tread with kids. Our first conclusion as adults is to think they are being naughty and selfish, but we all need to dig a little deeper. A lot of times when I ask my 7 year old why she doesn’t want to do things (like ride in the front seat of a car for two blocks), she isn’t able to flat-out tell me because she really doesn’t know why (she just knows it’s not right), so she’ll say “just because” and have ‘that look’ in her eye – the I’m-not-doing-this-thing-to-be-defiant look, but the I-know-it’s-wrong-but-I-don’t-know-why look. And as parents, we need to be looking out for those subtle differences.

    We actually have yet to let our kiddos go to birthday parties unless one of us stays – especially at a person’s home. Call us over-protective if you will, but it’s scary out there.

    Awesome post behind such tragedy.

  13. 14

    Amen.

  14. 15

    I am so glad you wrote this. I have always told my girls about kidnappers and what they do and how sad we would be if we didn’t have them. I used to think I was neurotic because I was always running these scenarios through my head of what could happen to my girls if I was not with them. Let me tell you I have ridden the school bus to many field trips(not that I always wanted to go),just so I could make sure they were safe. I think as moms we have to be willing to trust that voice inside us that let’s us know this is the right decision for us and our children. I’ve gone as far as doing away with sleep overs. We now do “late” nights( they end about 9 at night). I thought this would be met with objections from my 9 and 12 year old but it hasn’t. They are happy to have a friend over or be at a friends until bedtime and then come home to their parents. You are doing a great job. Keep it up!

    • 16

      I know you’re worried about your kids, but I think you’re making a huge mistake by banning sleepovers.

      Bad stuff can happen anywhere, at your house, away from home, at school, etc.
      It doesn’t matter if you’re there or not, things can happen. But, those things are unlikely. Teach the kid what’s appropriate behavior for adults/peers and what isn’t. Then, trust them to spend the night at trusted friend’s houses. I’m not suggesting you let them spend the night at some stranger’s house, but you can’t spoil their innocent fun by banning an activity. Driving is dangerous. Sports are dangerous. Food is dangerous.. you could choke. Having friends late at night is just as dangerous. Bicycles are dangerous. Bathtubs are dangerous. Stairs are dangerous. School is dangerous. The mall is dangerous. The grocery store is dangerous. Do you ban all of those things? No, you don’t. It’s impossible to protect anyone all the time. You can’t ban someone from routine activities just because of a small risk. Being too strict with kids makes them want to rebel, if anything, making them later put themselves in greater danger than someone staying over past 9. And, in the process, you banned some innocent kiddie fun.

    • 17
      lillianna says:

      April I am with you on no sleepovers. I have 3 boys and I believe they should be home every night with us.
      Too many weirdos out there.

  15. 18

    Thank you for sharing. My daughter is only 3.5, and I have so much to teach her, it’s hard to know what to say and when.

  16. 19

    Excellent post Ashley! Having raised 4 and helping to raise many others, I would say that this is one of the hardest issues to deal with. They have to know that there is evil in the world but how much info is too much? It sounds like you are doing a great job with Boo Hack! : )

  17. 20

    Such a perfect post.. Loved it!!

  18. 21

    Awesome awesome awesome post! I don’t have kids yet but your parenting is how I see myself parenting as well. And isn’t it amazing what we can learn from children when we pay close attention?

    Thank you!

    Amanda

  19. 22

    Oh, my gosh. I totally agree with you 150% I need to write a post about this, because my 6 year old and your 5 year old have similar qualities. This totally reminded me of the wisdom my little boy has. He think on levels much deeper than his young years on this earth. Love the connection you have with your Boo. You’re a wonderful mommy.

  20. 23

    You are an awesome mom. Such a well thought out post. Thank you.

  21. 24

    I cried reading this. This was so heartfelt, and these thoughts go through every Mother’s heart. I’m 54 now, I still remember times when I should have listened more closely to what my kids did or did not say… And it still makes me sad. They once had a babysitter who only fed them mayonnaise sandwiches for lunch EVERY day. They didn’t tell me, I guess, because they knew I HAD to work, and because I guess? they knew how hard I tried to find them good babysitters. I had to work shift work, and many times, sitters would bail on me. Ii was without someone to care for them, would have to call in sick, which meant all kinds of hell at work, and me anxious for the lack of $. To think my kids endured mayo sandwiches for lunch for makes me sick! I finally fired this babysitter for another reason, but it was years later before I learned of why the kids hated mayo… This is nothing compared to this recent horror… But, I will never forgive myself, for needing to work so desperately, that i forgot to listen to what wasn’t said.

    • 25

      Mayonnaise sandwiches? And…? I wouldn’t blame yourself, or even think twice.
      Your kids were NOT malnourished. They ate the same thing for lunch everyday… so what? They were fed and cared for. So what if they got tired of eating the same thing every day. At least they ate. At least they had an adult watching them. You took care of them, as did the sitter. I seriously wouldn’t even think twice about it. They don’t like Mayo? Fine. No biggie. I ate the same sandwich at lunch every day from 1st to 12th grade. I lived. I still like that sandwich. I’m healthy. I thought nothing of it. It’s not uncommon for kids to eat the same thing for many meals.

      • 26

        Thanks for putting me in perspective! LOL!! You are right of course, guess I felt guilty for being a single mom and feeling like I was never doing enough to make sure my kiddos were well taken care of.

  22. 27

    I still have a hard time with the “letting go” part….and my oldest is 10. His 5th-grade class went on a school camping overnight at the school district’s summer camp. I panicked. The note home even said that all volunteers had to be background-checked and everything….but it still made me such a NERVOUS NELLY inside. I ended up making my husband go with them….I just couldn’t do it.

    I do realize that someday he is going to have to go to camp by himself. And honestly I don’t know if I will ever be ready for it.

    It’s a hard fact of motherhood….especially when the world is a pretty scary place.

  23. 28

    Something for parents, grandparents, everyone to think about. As a grandmother to 3 little boys (5, 3, 1), I often wonder what kind of parent I would be today. I raised my one son pretty much alone and ran a fairly tight ship BUT times were different 30+ years ago. Could I do it today? Hmmm, the jury is still out. I hurt for this mother so much and pray for her. PS…Following a home invasion about a year ago, I had a security system intalled. The ‘F*ck that door’ lady lives with me too..she’s wonderful!

  24. 29

    Amazing post Ashley. I struggle too with all the things you wrote about. I feel like I put my fears 1st a lot & I need to stop. I am fully in tears over Boo telling her teacher to tell you that it was OK to bring in her FS’s. I love it. Shes an amazing kid with an even more amazing Mom.

    xo Tiff

  25. 30

    I just love reading this Amazing post. This is so true. Fear paralyzes us from doing what is right so many times. Thank you for this post I really needed it today.

  26. 31

    I too was heartbroken after hearing that horrible story of those children killed by their nanny. I pray for those parents to feel peace that they are not at fault.

    Our children and grandchildren are our greatest gifts and we can only hope that we have armed them with enough wisdom and courage to keep them safe and strong.

    I wish, as a child , that I had more courage. I was molested by a male babysitter at about 3 – 4 years old and was not able to verbalize my anguish to my parents. Fortunately they found out by witnessing it themselves and I was spared any more harm. It is by the grace of God (and a few strong men holding him back) that my father didn’t have to spend his life in prison for murder.

    The best thing you can do is talk to your children and arm them with knowledge and let them know how much they are loved and that you are ALWAYS ready to listen.

  27. 32

    Well said!! I would have been honored to have you and Boo be a part of my former Preschool and Kindergarten classes when I was teaching a few years ago!
    I didn’t know about the tragedy…prayers for the parents and parents everywhere! I wanted to let you know I passed out some “choose joy” bracelets last week to the Mops small group I mentor to encourage one of the “girls” whose Mom has a recurrence of cervical cancer. Thanks for your thoughtful posts.

  28. 33

    As soon as I picked my 4-year-old from pre-k today I hugged him extra tight thinking about that poor mother and family. I struggle too with being in awkward situations and realize now I must work through my fear of standing up so he will learn, too. I feel it really epitomizes parenting, which is like walking a tight rope: you need to make them cautious enough, but not too fearful, respectful but not rude, risk takers who also plan responsibly. It’s hard for grown-ups to grasp, yet we expect out little ones to pick it up overnight.

    And you are right: It is so hard to tow the line between telling them about the scary reality of life, while also not scaring them to death. I struggle each my time my son and I have the discussion because he looks at me with such innocent eyes and asks all the whys: why do people do mean things? Why do they take children? Why do some people try to trick kids? Even watching Dumbo tonight he struggled, unable to fathom just WHY people would even think to make fun of the tiny elephant.

    Great post and a great read.

  29. 34

    Ash, such an amazing post. I think you crawled into my head and wrote everything that I think, too. I work in a crime lab. I do forensic DNA testing. I read countless reports of awful things that adults have done to children who trust them… I live your philosophy and hate that parenting is so difficult!! I want to enjoy my kids and keep them safe from all of the bad things in this world. If only it was that easy!

  30. 35

    You are a good mother. You are doing the best you can. God bless you and Boo and keep you safe. It sounds to me like you have all the right ideas! I really enjoy your blog.

  31. 36
    Mary Dailey says:

    Fantastic post and your little girl is adorable!

  32. 37

    Free range kids!
    Bad things happen everywhere, but actually at lower levels than ever. Stranger kidnapings are very rare. Don’t teach kids to be scared of adults – teach them to be smart and savvy. We’re seeing a whole generation of kids who have never done anything on their own. We roamed the neighborhood with friends, went to stores on our own, walked to school by ourselves, took public transportation competently – why do we deprive our kids. I see the the results in the kids who can’t even go away to college because they are so scared of the real world and someone getting them; they have no life skills. Kids deserve to learn to be independent and confident. I’m going to strive to let my kiddos have at least that regardless of the judgement of others. Confidence and trust beats fear any day.

  33. 38

    Great post!

  34. 39

    love this post. love your blog.

  35. 40

    I love this post and it brings up so many of the fears that I have…our 4 yo daughter adopted at age 3.5 has no fear of strangers, especially adults. To her adults = attention which is something she was deprived of for the first years of her life. It is also difficult to get the message across when she is learning a new language and doesn’t fully understand the concept of trusting her instincts as they have not fully developed in this area yet. I hover, I over-protect, but I must make up for what she was not equipped with by her caregivers during those first few years.

  36. 41

    I love your post and your honesty!! I especially love the way you did stick up for your brother and sister when you had a sitter when Dad and I took a trip!! I love that you told me all the bad and good things that happened!! I praise God that you three never had any really evil events as a little child! I pray Boo and all my grandchildren will have the great life we had as kids!! You and Mr. LLB are deeply loving parents!! May the Lord continue to guide and guard all of us. My love eternally, mom

  37. 42

    this is a great story. and so many times adults are wrong!!! and we should apologize to our kiddos. its important!! there is a fine line b/t respecting others and standing up for oneself. despite trying to raise my own daughter to have her own voice and opinions, that has turned her into a snotty and spoiled acting 15 year old. idk where i went wrong bc i adapted many of the same beliefs with her and you speak of. and its a constant battle to get her to be respectful, not wanting to argue with teachers, disobeying me just bc she wants to do what she wants to do instead of what the rules are. but she is a teen, and teens and their moms always clash. so im taking it step by step and praying and trying with every once of my being to remain patient and leading by example!!!

  38. 43

    What a great post. Thanks for sharing. I am a full-believer in giving your kids the tools to cope with LIFE. Because LIFE happens every day. I have a 13 year old daughter, 12 year old and 2.5 year old son. The things that go on in middle school these days scares the crap out of me. But I know my kids will mess up. I messed up. I know they will have to learn from their mistakes just like I did. And I pray every single day that they are not going to be put in danger. Thanks again for this post.

    And also, that “notaname” person sure has a lot to say without a name. Geez, some people :-P

  39. 44

    Such a hard struggle that I can completely relate to. My husband is adament that our kids should be raised “not to be sheep” and should think for themselves. I’m a rule follower and it is hard for me to know HOW to teach them that.

  40. 45
    Cheri Murphy says:

    LOVE this post… as I do all of your posts! By the way, where are you? It’s been three days and no posts. Are you ok? I’m worried! :-)

  41. 46

    Thank you. Really good food for thought.

  42. 47
    Meredith Klobucnik says:

    I love this, so true!

  43. 48
    Veronica W says:

    I love this post. I am the proud Mom of a wonderful 5 y/o girl and your words resounded deep within me. Sometimes I’m guilty of not really, truly listening to my little girl, because of course I’m the adult and I know it all. NOT! Thanks for reminding me that their little voices and instincts need to be heard and nurtured. I think sometimes we’re so busy “raising” our kids that we miss out on the things they can teach us.

  44. 49

    What a great post. It voices all the concerns we have as parents. Respect adults, but also remember that some of them aren’t good-hearted. Respect authority, but also question it if it seems wrong. What a balance we try to reach. You did a great job handling the Flat Stanley situation!

  45. 50

    It is HARD being a mum. My 3 and a half year old is at that age where he is asking if things are good or bad. Are you a good guy or a bad guy, and sometimes, it’s really difficult to distinguish between the two. He looks up to Darth Vader, and when he asks if he is a good guy I say “he was and then he went bad and then he became good again” but it’s hard. He doesn’t understand the grey are. it’s good or bad!

    Posts like this get stuck in my brain, at the back of my head to try and remember when Vince is bigger. I just want to do the right thing! I just want to raise a child who has respect but is sure of himself, and isn’t afraid to be himself.