Warning: This post goes to a dark place…
Months ago my friend Elke and I purchased tickets to a modern dance series at a local theater.
I was excited because, like me, Elke likes modern dance (unlike K who, when forced to attend, fidgets.)
K agreed to be in charge of the short and loud people on the show nights, but after things were all set K was invited to a surprise 40th birthday party for his best friend. It was to be held in New York on the night of the first performance in my dance series.
Because K and I are of the mind that in life and friendship it is important to show up for the big stuff, we decided that he would go to New York and I would get a babysitter for the night.
At the last minute, my babysitter cancelled leaving me twenty four hours to find a replacement or miss my show.
I frantically called around and left messages with all my sitters.
[I have never been rejected so much in a single day!]
Then, miraculously, a friend suggested her son.
I don’t know her son well, but I have met him and he seems like a very personable and responsible kid.
I was a little nervous because he is fairly young, but I kept reassuring myself by thinking of how young I was when I started babysitting. Besides, my friend/his mother assured me that he baby sits her younger son and daughter regularly and takes the job very seriously.
My friend lives in my neighborhood and went as far as to offer to stay home so that her son could call her if anything went wrong.
I trust this friend. Everything was going to be fine.
I was going to go out! Hurrah!
And then… The Mayor threw up all night long the night before the event.
On the morning of the show I called my friend and cancelled her son’s baby sitting services.
“If The Mayor starts throwing up again you'll get stuck dealing with it and I don’t want to do that to you.”
I resigned myself (albeit grumpily) to missing the performance.
Late in the afternoon, after a vomit-free day, a teen aged girl that lives behind us called, apologized for returning my call so late and said that if I still needed a baby sitter she was available.
"Oh, what the hell," I thought and accepted her offer.
Later, after listening to me drone on about the mundane ups and downs of finding a baby sitter, a male friend said,
“Aren’t you worried about a boy babysitting your daughter?”
“What?” I said. “What do you mean? What are you talking about?”
He was talking about the potential abuse of my daughter.
See my innocence smashed to bits there on the floor?
Honestly, nothing like that had occurred to me.
Nothing that disgusting had even crossed my mind.
In fact, my biggest concern was that my friend's son might not know how to work our stove to make a frozen pizza.
I was immediately enraged and then depressed and despondent.
I think it is important to be clear that the person who questioned trusting male baby sitters with little girls has never met my friend's son. The comment was in no way meant as a personal attack.
Is it a reasonable fear?
Can teen-aged boys babysit my daughter?
I HATE the idea of living my life bought into a manufactured “culture of fear.”
I want to be someone who says,
“How the hell are young boys supposed to learn to be caring and nurturing if you suspect them of being child abusers before they’ve even reached puberty?!!”
I want to believe in the best possible version of everyone I meet.
And, at the same time, of course, of course, of course, I want to protect my daughter.