I just got home from dropping my child off at daycare and I cried on the way home. BUT they were good, healing tears. So hang in there with the story…it does have a good ending.
Rewind to yesterday morning. I’m getting ready to go out the door amidst the mad rush of getting shoes on, backpacks ready, thermoses filled, coats on, the approximately 1,000,000 things that all need to be done when getting a 3 and 4 year-old out the door. My youngest child says in a scared voice, Is T going to be at school today? This is the first time I have heard her mention this name, so my ears perk up and my heart sinks. “Did something happen with T?” I ask. “I don’t want to talk about it” the three-year-old says. Red lights start flashing before my eyes as this is a first-ever answer from this child. My mind starts frantically searching my memory for any and every sign that may point to something happening. I hold my child and ask open ended questions but keeps saying she does not want to talk about it and tears up. When I ask her to describe what happened, she starts making gagging noises.
I drop off my oldest at school and take my youngest to a park. I’m freaking out at this point. I get nothing from her except that it is a boy, not an adult. When I drop her off, I mention that she feared T. They say they will investigate. Thankfully I have some time on my own to journal, reflect, and grieve over what may have happened. I also met with my T later that day and talked through everything. But I also worried. The week prior she had major potty regression. She also had trouble sleeping and would scream before bed she couldn’t get the bubblegum flavor out of her mouth. It was very odd as we do not give the children gum and she’d never used that term before. It was seriously triggering o* s*x abuse from my father when I was very young and I felt just as helpless.
When I picked her up that afternoon, I spoke with the Behavior Specialist. She assured me nothing had happened and this child is not currently in her class. She said it has been 1 ½ weeks and no incident was reported. When asked if she could ensure that my child would not interact with the other child, she was quite defensive and told me that my child must have made something up and nothing else would be done. Given my history of abuse and NOT being believed when I told my mother about my father, this was devastating.
That evening while eating dinner, my husband and I tried talking with our youngest about T. When she made the odd gagging noise, my husband agreed that was quite odd. Then I told him about the bubblegum comment she made the prior week. He then asked her if she had eaten bubblegum and THEN the story started to come together. She nodded yes and said she found bubblegum on the floor at her school. Of course, she ate it. ☹ She started the gagging sound again and then said she had to drink her water 3 times and it popped out of her mouth. Although I am very sad this happened and caused her distress, I was so relieved that it wasn’t anything worse.
So all last night and early this morning, I have been dreading dropping her off at school. I have such a terror of standing up for myself, as if my life is threatened if I say anything that will make someone else mad. I did my best to mentally prepare and tell myself I am okay as I am, but I was shaking in my boots when I dropped her off. On the way home, I realized how scared I was. In the past, I would have scolded myself for being scared. I would have told myself I should have been nicer. I should have stayed quiet. But today I recognized that the little girl in me was still dealing with the terror that was systematically instilled in her if she stood up for herself or someone she loved. I gave her the space to cry and tell all about how scary that was. I gave her comfort and understanding the best that I could. It all feels foreign to me but oh so freeing. Instead of tears of fear, I think I have found tears of freedom.