“Mommy, I can talk to you?” came a tiny voice from my bedroom door.
I looked up to see my daughter peering over the bed at me, her eyes bright with concern.
“Sure,” I answered, as I lifted her up and covered her in my big comforter. “What’s on your mind?”
“I had a bad dream last night”.
I nodded, and took a deep breath. These nightmares, or bad dreams as she calls them, have been haunting us for the better part of a year. They peaked in May, of course, when she confessed that she had been molested.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
She shook her head vehemently, scrunching her little face, then hid under the blankets.
“You can tell me anything, hun. Remember, you are safe, right?”
Slowly, her head popped out of the blanket, and she studied my face for a moment.
“Why did he touch my ‘gina, Mommy? It’s bad, right?”
I bit my lip, hoping I could come up with a decent answer. Telling her that sometimes people do things like that didn’t seem good enough, because it just isn’t really. So I told her what I knew.
“I have no idea. There are people in this world that do really bad things. Sometimes they do it because they feel like they should, sometimes they do it because they can. I wish I knew why he did it.”
“It was bad for him to do it.” Her eyes pierced mine. It was a statement, but she was also looking for validation.
“Yes, absolutely. It was terrible for him to do it. He shouldn’t have, and it’s not your fault he did it. He made a bad choice.”
“We won’t see him again, right?” This time, her voice trembled ever so slightly, her eyes filling with tears. She had more composure than I because immediately, my own tears spilled over the edge, silently.
“Never. That’s my job as your Mom. I will always keep you safe from anyone or anything that could harm you. It’s Daddy’s job too, and we’ll always, always protect you.”
She snuggled her body a little closer to mine, wrapping her arms around mine.
“And, my brother too?”
“Yes, we’ll all keep you safe.”
Silence rung through the afternoon air, as the sun shone brightly into my bedroom. I’ve learned in these moments, the ones where she decides she wants to talk about what happened to her, that it’s best if I say as little as I can. It’s important that she leads the conversation, and is able to say what she needs to say about what she is feeling or thinking.
“I don’t like him, Mommy.”
“It’s okay to not like him. He hurt you.”
“He didn’t ‘pologize to me. When you hurt someone, you say sorry.”
More silent tears escaped from my eyes.
“That’s right, when you hurt someone, you apologize. Sometimes people don’t get that, even grown-ups. Would you feel better if he did apologize?”
She thoughtfully played with the hem of the blanket, her golden hair softly splaying against her forehead. Then, she looked at me and shrugged, “I don’t know.”
“It might help you, I’m sure but he did something to you that will probably take more than an apology. Can I tell you I’m sorry that he hurt you?”
“He should ‘pologize because it’s nice, and I have bad dreams.”
“I agree, but I don’t think he will.”
“His Mommy should make him ‘pologize.”
I sighed quietly. There was no way for me to gracefully explain that his Mommy was also part of the reason that he wouldn’t apologize.
“She should, but sometimes there are people who don’t believe that certain things have actually happened. His Mommy doesn’t believe that you are telling the truth.”
My daughter jerked her head toward me, incredulous. Rising to her feet, she stood in the middle of the bed, hands on her hips, her brow furrowed,
“But he did. He did touch my ‘gina, and that’s not nice, and I don’t like it.”
“I believe you. Your Daddy believes you. Anyone who is important and loves you, believes you. It doesn’t matter what he or his Mommy think. It only matters that we believe you, and we do.”
“And you will protect me from him?”
“Yes. You’ll never, ever see him again. I promise.”
She held out her arms, indicating she wanted a hug, so I took her in my arms, and wrapped her in all the love and protectiveness I could manage in
that very moment. With her head resting on my shoulder, and one hand playing with my hair, I heard her whisper softly,
“Thank you so much, Mommy.”