When Kids’ Innocence Starts To Die

little child girl crying and sad about an empty brick wall

When my daughter was one and two, and still in her crib, she would often wake up in the middle of the night crying. She was never a great sleeper but I always thought it must be so scary as a small child to wake up alone and in the dark. I would go into her room, scoop her up, pull her against me and say, “I save you. I always save you. “

I doubt she could even understand the gravity of the words I spoke at that age. It was a promise I made her though. From the moment she was born, as a parent, my job was to save her from whatever was out there that scared her or could hurt her.

When Innocence Starts To Die - The Everyday Mom Life

As a parent you prepare for that. You cover electrical outlets, anchor the television, you buy blinds without strings to pull, you put baby locks on the cabinets with household cleaners…before they are even born you start doing things to save them.

For most parents, the first few years of saving them are relatively easy. Feed them, give them water and milk, give them a home and provide shelter from life’s scary storms. Sometimes this becomes more difficult when they can actually move, especially for parents of runners, but for the most part you’re able to keep them away from danger – self-inflicted or otherwise.

But then something happens. One day, you have to send those kids off to school. You have to send them to day care. You have to work and you have to leave them – entrusting the safety of those children to someone else, or even to the children themselves (the older ones).

This is the part when saving them can become difficult because it’s out of your hands. For me, this was a difficult realization, and it still is on a daily basis.

My daughter went to kindergarten this year and as I sit back and watch I often feel panicked because situations are coming up – big and small – that I can’t save her from.

Sure she had been to preschool, and I worried about her there, but more often I worried about her welfare versus her mental and emotional strength. I have to say these things have become much more worrisome than giving her the right purees, determining the right age to take away the paci or even the breast versus bottle debate. While all of these will shape her, they won’t impact her in the long run as much as some of the things that she is experiencing now.

In preschool she had a situation with some of her friends being mean to her and it made me so angry. Those other girls hurt her little heart. They called her fat when she didn’t even know what the word meant. I was so angry at them, and honestly, held a grudge against these little 4-year-olds.

I was happy to say goodbye to them when it was time for kindergarten but I was naïve to what was to come.

I let her ride the bus this year, doing some damage to my own mental health. All I could think about were possible accidents and how the buses didn’t have any seat belts. But it wasn’t an accident that caused me to realize there were other things – smaller things that would create just as much impact on her – that I couldn’t save her from.

One weekend we bought her a few Pokemon cards because a friend of her’s on the bus had given her a few. She became excited about being able to be a part of the whole Pokemon card trading world. I sealed her cards in a plastic bag, a friendly boy at our bus stop told her which ones she shouldn’t trade because they were rare and off she went on the bus.

When she arrived home that day I asked her if she traded her cards. She said yes. I looked in her plastic bag and found two cards. She had closer to 10 and the rare ones were missing.

“What happened to them all?”

“I gave them to people,” she said.

“Did they give you some in return,” I asked? I thought she just didn’t put them away in the bag.

“No, they just took them,” she said.

I got mad. I got mad at her. After some discussion though, I felt awful. It wasn’t that I was mad at her. I was partially mad at myself for not doing a better job explaining the concept of “trading.” But I was really mad at older kids who took advantage of her and took her cards without giving one in exchange – the kids who surely understood trading.

I called my husband that day to tell him about it and started sobbing. In doing so, I realized the issue was about much more than silly Pokemon cards.

“I’m so angry that those kids took advantage of her,” I sobbed. “My heart is breaking because I can see that these things will happen to her over and over and I can’t save her from them. I can see that people will take advantage of her kindness, her youth and her sweetness and I don’t know what to do about it!”

By that time I was sobbing through my words and half shouting into the phone.

In that instance I realized I was really mad at the world. I was mad that they were going to destroy this sweet girl I had given life to. They were going to hurt her until she was no longer this innocent, little kid. I was livid that society and the people in it were not better for her, for all our kids. They were going to make her an adult and with that would come hurt, disappointment and a world full of people who would take advantage of her – whether it be her kindness or, God forbid, even her body. I couldn’t save her from any of that, not really anyways.

I hung up with my husband, pulled my car over (the phone works through the radio) and sobbed. After a few minutes I took a deep breath and went home.

The next week she came home and told me about a girl who was kicking her at school. I asked if it was just when they were sitting at the table – thinking what seemed like kicking was just a kid who couldn’t sit still. But no. She told me it was happening inside and at recess. I told her to tell the girl to stop and then to find someone else to play with. I told her a real friend would not hurt her. After she was asleep I took a deep breath and emailed her teacher.

Last week I was putting her to bed and she told me about another recess incident that chilled me to the bone. She said there was a little boy in first grade talking to a group of them (her and the boys she is friends with) and he said he wanted to, “kill all the kindergarteners.”

I’m pretty sure my heart stopped in that moment. After Sandy Hook, after all the college shootings, after Vegas and even the most recent church shooting in Texas yesterday, I had been deeply and silently worried about mass shootings and my kids. I haven’t wanted to talk about it on the blog or even really in life. What I want to do is cover my ears and sing, “Lalalalala…” until it stops. The problem is that it isn’t stopping and each time it happens my heart shatters for all those involved.

After she told me the details about the incident with this boy, I tried to calm her and put her to sleep. Even though we watch a lot of news programing, I turn it off when issues like this come up and luckily my daughter doesn’t generally pay attention.

She doesn’t own toy guns. In fact, she only experienced a Nerf gun for the first time last Christmas when someone gave one to her cousin.

My philosophy is that no one is happy on the other end of a gun – not a water gun (generally), not a paint gun (ouch), not a BB gun or a real one. The only one happy is usually the shooter. She knows what guns are but until this point they’ve been just an object in her world similar to a knife – something that probably serves some purpose for people but is not for her.

I went downstairs, emailed the teacher again and sat on the couch sobbing and shaking. My husband asked me what was wrong.

“Why does she have to deal with this,” I asked. It was a statement and not a question. I knew he didn’t have any good answers.

“My mom never had to worry about me being shot and killed at school. She is 5! I’m so angry that she has to deal with this!”

My daughter’s teacher emailed me back right away. She had notified the principal and vice principal. A few days later she told me they were going to address all the kids before recess about something that sound similar to a, “See something, say something,” policy.

I wasn’t sure it was enough. I didn’t get any additional details. Did they talk to this kid? Did they notify his parents? Do his parents care? I’m honestly not even sure what I’m allowed to ask or know.

Her teacher tried to reassure me that she was safe there. My heart doesn’t really believe her because I know that if someone has the desire to hurt other people, they will probably do so.

Through all of this I’ve felt somewhat helpless. These problems are so much more difficult that covering electrical outlets and anchoring the television. These are big kid problems and part of me hasn’t adjusted to the idea that my baby is now a big kid.

I want to put her in a bubble. I want to “always save” her.

As the days pass by I’m understanding that all I can do is prepare her though. All I can do is tell her to go find another friend when one is being mean, to say, “Stop,” loudly when someone is doing something she doesn’t like, educate her about social situations that might be difficult for a kids to navigate (like trading Pokemon cards), to scream and bite and kick the private parts if someone tries to take her, to tell someone if she even hears the world gun at school…

I can’t keep her from growing up, but I can try to make it harder for her to be hurt or be taken advantage of in this world. In doing all that, maybe I can still save her even if I can’t always be there.


  1. It is so hard to sit at home and let things play out while they are at school. My kids are older, so I have learned to deal over the years.

  2. I can’t even imagine. We all want to protect our kids. I know that I worried every single day when my oldest was in school of school shootings. I didn’t worry so much with my youngest, because I worked at her school, and when we had lock down drills, I was lucky enough to be in classrooms that I was told, if we were ever on a lock down, go to where your daughter is. We homeschool now, one of the reasons is safety.

  3. Man! This is tough! I think a lot of moms can relate to you in some way or another. My husband is military and just a few weeks ago a girl in my daughter’s class told her “your dad is in the military so he has guns and guns are bad.” While I would never have a conversation about the various opinions of others on guns with my 6 year old, I tried to explain to her that he “has guns” for his job, like a police officer. We also have guns in our home and we are very adamant and open about the rules and safety measures in our home. Whenever the opportunity arises to reinforce “gun safety rules” I jump on it without even thinking twice. Unfortunately, I think a lot of what kids experience (good and bad) boils down to parenting practices on the other side. I think you’re doing a great job with your daughter. I also think it’s important to remember and remind them that we can’t always control how other people treat us, we can only control how we treat others and we should allow ourselves and our children to be “the good example.” Great read!

  4. You are just starting with all these fears and your daughter will go through so many things and forget dating starts in a few years. I hope you rest assured that shootings and tragedies are still very uncommon even though you can’t watch the news without hearing about something bad.

  5. I’m with ya! I have big-hearted kids and have just learned that if giving makes them feel good, to let to give. Someday they will see they world the way do and get smarter, but for now,…..

  6. That’s probably one of the hardest parts of being a parent. Seeing your child get hurt over and over and knowing that it will happen again at some point in her life. I know you want to keep her safe but that’s also how she’ll learn to be strong.

  7. I can’t imagine how difficult this would have been. We naturally and instinctively want to protect our kids and it really sucks when we can’t do everything! I wish bullying was a thing of the past by now

  8. It is really scary out there for a parent. And it sucks that we all eventually lose our innocence. But it sounds like you’re a great mom, and you’re doing the most to help her feel safe, and stay innocent for as long as possible.

  9. *Sigh* This has been one of the hardest aspects of motherhood so far for me. Having to explain to my kids why things happen or the ways things work is just so hard at times.

  10. Oh Momma, been there, cried that along with you. I hear you and I see you. We do the best we can and hope other parents have done the same. My heart also breaks for the kids that inflict the pain, I won’der what it is that they need…

  11. Ooh this had me in tears. Your fears and frustrations are so relatable and understandable. I have them for my children so intensely that it hurts. Praying for you, mama.

  12. Your daughter is very blessed to have a mama that cares and feels for her so deeply. I know it doesn’t make going through this any easier, and I dread the day my sons will have to go through this, but you’re doing a great job.

  13. I felt this so much! My oldest is almost 5 and started pre school this year. So far things have been great, but a few bumps along the way. One “friend” seems a bit mean for my liking, telling my daughter ” I am smarter than you” or ” I have more toys than you” I know it is petty but it upsets her and makes me mad, but I have to teach my daughter how to deal with it… there was one kid who was hitting, and I will admit I am that mom that says is someone hits you and won’t stop, then you hit them back… lol Thankfully it hasn’t come to that yet

  14. I can really feel your pain. As a former school principal, I love that the school has this policy and that they are talking to even kinders about this. Don’t be satisfied with what they told you. Ask your daughter. Was there follow through? Did the boy get talking to? (kids know, just ask) If you aren’t satisfied, follow up. Tell other parents. Ask if they have heard about this. Be strong, momma, this is your baby.

  15. The world is so scary, and having so many kids I’m often always in a state of worry. Esepcilaly when they go off to school, which should be the most secure, safe place for them. It isnt anymore.

  16. This post pulled at my heart strings. Growing up, and loss of innocence is such a hard subject for me to read about. Great post.

  17. I agree, it’s so hard to watch what they go through in school. Mine have experienced mean comments, mean actions, and learned words and situations I tried to shield their innocence from. It’s super hard to watch but I agree, as parents we need to equip them the best we can and realize they must stand on their own two feet. Hopefully as parents our words and teaching will sheild them and strenghten them to withstand all the bad stuff, at least that’s my hope anyway. We have less control once they go off to school and it’s hard to accept.

  18. Wow! This was such an emotional read! It is so hard for me to accept the fact that my kid is growing up a little too fast for my liking!

  19. One of the hardest parts of being a parent is sending your kids off into the world and not knowing what will happen. We can’t always protect them, we can only teach them to be good people and stand up for themselves and others. Of course, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to punch any little monster that treats them unkindly.

  20. Oh hun this made me tear up. Noone should ever have to go through bullying and your daughter-like her mother- sounds like a compassionate kind individual who likes to see the best in others. It is scary what children have to go through, I just wish there was more positivity in the world but don’t beat yourself up. She knows that she has you and over time she will learn who she can trust. I learned that the hard way but for now be proud of your daughter for the kind caring girl that she is x

  21. We live in such a scary world! I want to kids to keep their innocence as long as possible. I also understand, that I can’t keep my kids under my wings and in my nest forever. Teaching them to make wise decisions can help them when there are flying free!

  22. It’s absolutely a scary world we live in now, and I do sometime question the parenting of others. Unfortunately though, we cannot wrap our children up in cotton wool. We need to teach them to be worldly-wide, resillient and well prepared. I hope everything gets sorted at her school.

  23. Oh dear mama! I know these fears and my kid is only 3! My heart goes out to you so much but I want to tell you something. Something painful but true, you can do every single thing right and still not be able to stop something from happening to them! BUT there is someone who can protect her and that is God! It was deeply hard for me and I still struggle with it some days but when you put your little one in the hands of God your whole perspective changes! Peace will come to you and to her! You can prepare her and that starts with the “small” problems. My husband used to get so upset when another kid would push our son down at church and he never understood why I stood back a moment and let him pick himself up and deal with the matter. I had been teaching him to look someone right in the eye and speak up for himself when someone hurts him. I explained to my husband, let him learn now how to defend himself when it’s just a kid pushing him down and someday when it’s a real danger he’ll have the confidence in himself to take care of it when we aren’t around. I even got to see him in action this summer when a little girl hit him at the park and he very matter of factly looked right at her, pointed his finger and said, “Nobody likes to be hit, do not hit me.” I was in mid-stand when he said it about to go over and address the little girl because she had hit him pretty hard in the face and it really angered me but after he told her like it was she ran off, I sat back down knowing he had handled it. He then ran over to me proudly telling me how he had told that little girl not to hit him and I hugged him and told him he did a great job! Let the little hurts be the teacher and help her know how to deal so that she is prepared later in life when you aren’t there. Praying for you mama! The hardest thing is feeling like you can’t protect them but let God! He loves them even more than we can ever and he’ll see them through! This is my first time at your blog so I don’t know if you have ever accepted Jesus as you savior, if not start there! Trust in him and your fears will be quietened! Love!

  24. I don’t have lil’ ones of my own, but I do have a nephew that I worry about constantly. It broke my heart reading about the things your daughter has experienced so far. I cannot believe lil’ kids call people ‘fat’ in kindergarten.

  25. You are making me emotional and I don’t know why… when my eldest daughter transferred to another school last year, she got confused by many different attitudes shown by her classmates.. Relate..

  26. I have the same exact feeling constantly!! Why?? Why can’t parents teach their kid right and wrong? My two year old, who speaks incredibly, knows we don’t say things like that to anyone! I watch so many kids at the playground every day talking about beating up, fighting, attacking…. The Halloween costumes this year were absolutely distributing. Why would you dress a 3 year old up like a zombie and allow them to say things like, “I eat people’s faces”. What is wrong with people that they think it’s ok to expose their children to things like that, ESPECIALLY at that age? I’m terrified for kindergarten for both of my children. Preschool has already changed them. I’m constantly having to explain why jyst because someone else does something, doesn’t mean its any ok thing to do or way to treat someone.

  27. That’s the toughest thing about being a parent. They all have to go through it, even if you homeschool them, you can’t protect them from being hurt. I, unfortunately, have witnessed some of the meanest behavior from some of the youngest kids and it breaks my heart. The best thing to do is to continue to show her love and not get mad at her for things she can not understand.

  28. My mom moment was when my oldest daughter did something very kind and giving but was fully rejected by the group she had called her best friends for years. She cut her long hair to donate because a classmate had passed away from cancer. The next day she was so excited to go to school and got up early to style her new cute cut. She was very upset that afternoon and asked for a time machine because she needed her long hair back. She was six years old and I was devastated for her!

  29. I am so moved by this post. I live in India but as a parent, our lives are so similar. My baby boy starts preschool soon and I can’t bear to see him go out into the world. I have dealt with everything else, but now I am questioning whether I will be able to save him from the world. Big hugs momma. We will get through this right?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here