36. Unintended Collateral
I ran into a gorgeous friend of mine today. He’s about a decade younger than I am and was like the fun uncle to my girls before After. Ed and his like-minded mate, Drew, were crowd favourites of Kate and Ruby’s. They were work colleagues of mine.
Every afternoon after school, Kate and Grace would walk to my work and come in and say hello to everyone. Ruby would come on her pre-school days full of life, laughs and weird crafty things. Some people loved the girls visiting, others not so much. Kate and Ruby loved hanging out with Ed and Drew and would naturally gravitate to their office to have a joke, hunt out a lolly and be little menaces. Ed and Drew always found ways to entertain them and assured me that they didn’t mind the girls hanging out with them.
It was a very sweet and innocent interaction between two young guys happy for an afternoon distraction.
When I returned to work, two days After, Ed asked me if I was okay. I said I was “fine”. Not one to settle for a lie, Ed asked me again later if something was going on.
So I told him. Every… little… detail. I left nothing out.
Ed wasn’t married, didn’t have kids, or nieces or nephews. He was living the life of a young 20-something. And I told him…everything. Poor Drew suffered a similar fate. I can vaguely recall the look of horror on their faces. But that’s about it.
It’s only been recently that I’ve been able to reflect upon those early days and realise my feelings and reactions for what they were…shock. I didn’t want to own up to the fact that I felt that way. There’s part of me that thought it was a weakness to admit that I was floored by this revelation. Even writing this is hard. I was shocked, and as a reaction to that, I momentarily lost my filter with these two lovely young men.
There’s another part of me that recognises the darker side of why I was so explicitly detailed with these two, my brother and other men in our lives. I was unintentionally putting them “on notice”. I was telling them, albeit subconsciously, that I was watching them. That I was not going to have my girls in that situation again. And it sucks- I hate that I now think this way, but I can’t really apologise for it.
As mentioned before, it was the same thing with playdates and sleepovers. I would sit out the front in the car and go over the rules. Even with people that I’d known for a really long time.
“Who is allowed to touch you?”
“What if someone says they can touch you but you don’t want them to?”
The thing is that even though I hate that I talk this way with the girls, I wish that I’d been more explicit earlier. What if I’d had these conversations with them before I dropped them at Jen’s every time. Maybe it could have saved us a lot of trauma…maybe not. We’ll never know, so again, I have to let it go.