The Kiss

girl and boy“Evan French kissed me,” said my five-year-old daughter. We were sitting in the living room after dinner. She was just about to play cards with Daddy.

“What?” we both said.

“What’s a ‘French kiss?’” I asked her.

She stuck her tongue out and rotated it. “He put his tongue in my mouth.”

“Where did this happen?”

“At Kids Club,” she said — her after school program. “I tried to tell someone there, but they were too busy. He did it to my friend, too.”

My poor little girl. “I’m gonna call your school, Sweetie. When did it happen?”

“A while ago.” Of course. She never tells us anything in a timely fashion. When she stuck the bead up her nose, she didn’t tell us until 8:30 that night, a half hour after urgent care closed, so we had to take her to the emergency room. If this happened “a while ago,” it was going to be harder to question and consequence Evan for it.

“Has he done it since then?”

“No.”

“Do you want to stop going to Kids Club?”

“No.”

“Okay, Honey, I will call.” So I did. I called the school the next day. They passed the buck.

“Well, if it happened at Kids Club, you’ve got to talk to Kids Club,” they said.

Fine. When I picked her up from Kids Club, I told the director. The Director was properly outraged. “It’s bad enough they’re exposed to this stuff, but to do it? They lose their innocence,” she said. I really don’t know how you can shield your kids from being exposed to kissing, but I agree with the innocence part.

During our conversation, my daughter clarified that Evan did not force himself on her at Kids Club, but on the bus going to Kids Club.

“I’m going to tell the principal,” said the Kids Club director, volleying responsibility back to the school. “She’s in charge of the buses. And Sweetie, you make sure you sit in front of the bus when you come here, and tell the bus driver that Evan can’t sit near you.”

At least she was going to get the principal involved. I felt better.

Now that I had reported it, I had to address the emotional aspects of what happened to my daughter. Not only had this kid forced himself on her, but she rode the bus with him for a month after that, and he sat with her. The whole thing reminded me of the way my parents had responded when I told them I was molested. They did not stop seeing the abuser, and when he came to town, he was still allowed to stay at our house. Since I didn’t know about what happened to my daughter, I didn’t have the opportunity to protect her before. She had argued from the beginning that she wanted to take her own bus, not the Kids Club bus, to Kids Club. I gave her permission but the Kids Club bus monitor routed her to the Kids Club bus anyway. She had several friends on her home bus, and I assumed that was why she wanted to ride it. She hadn’t told me about this.

Now that she had told me, I wanted to protect her, but the reason she goes to Kids Club in the first place is that I have to pick her brother up across town at the same time that she gets off the bus. When I pick her up at the bus stop, she has a tantrum because she wants to walk up the hill with the other kids, and she won’t get in the car with me. I still had to pick up her brother, but leaving her at Kids Club smacked of what my parents did to me. After wrestling with it, I told her she wouldn’t go to Kids Club the next day and if she wanted to keep attending, she could take her own bus. That’s when she told me that Evan rides her home bus too. Shit, this kid was everywhere.

But she wanted to ride her home bus, and I knew she sat in the front, so that was that. Damage control was next.

I always thought that, given my experience, if one of my kids was molested, I’d know what to do, what to say. I was wrong. I thought about it for a long time, and finally said, “Honey, what Evan did to you was wrong, and it was all his fault. It was not your fault at all. If anything like this ever happens again, please tell me right away so I can protect you. And if it made you feel icky and you want to talk about it, I am always here.”

“Okay,” she said, and skipped off.

Well, with that kind of feedback I had no idea if I’d said enough or too little, the right thing or the wrong thing, but I did know that I opened the door for her to talk about it, and if anything like that happened again, she’d come to me.

Back to discipline for this boy. I thought for sure the principal would call me and want to talk about the incident, but it’s been a week and no call. Maybe she’s passed the buck onto the bus driver, I don’t know. I am annoyed that she hasn’t called. I think my daughter and I deserve an acknowledgement, at least.

My daughter wants to quit Kids Club now, so she will. She can ride her own bus again with her friends so she’ll be happy. As for Evan, I don’t know what will happen to him, if anything, but he’d better not cross my path or I’ll kick his little French-kissing ass. I hope this is something that my daughter can recover from without long-term repercussions, and I hope I addressed all of her needs. I know I did the best I could. And as parents, that’s all we can do.