Nothing can describe what I feel when I consider some of the unthinkable things that happen to children these days. And nothing could prepare me for what I had to do today - try to explain these things to my son.
He loves our digital cameras. Lately it's become a mildly frustrating but humorous occurrence to find a new "viral" picture or two on our Cybershot or Flip every time we fire it up.
Until today when I turned on the camera to find a close up of his younger sister mooning the camera (she's been doing the "look at my butt cheek" thing a lot lately). Given the way people are today, my wife and I could imagine what would happen if a well-intentioned but unknowing person found the camera and saw the pic. So we decided to have a talk with him.
He knows where babies come from. But trying to relate:
a. the idea of how visual stimuli make grown ups want to have sex
b. some grown ups do bad things to children and would get the same stimuli from pictures like the ones he took, and
c. someone else who saw them might think that mumma and daddy are like that and our family would be in a lot of trouble
...was a real challenge, but he got it in the end. It was good to see his innocence coming through, and the trouble he had grasping the concept. It felt bad to give him these pieces of information that, once he really processes them, will take away another piece of that.
We could have just hidden the cameras from him but we want to continue to encourage his creativity, and taking that avenue from him would not be helpful. We have imposed rules for asking to use the camera though.
The last thought to hit me was how glad I am that it was a digital camera, and not a wet-film camera. We may have never known what hit us. I wondered for a second if we were being too paranoid and cautious, but I don't think so. The last thing I need, on the extreme end of any improbability, is to have my family put through the ringer over two kids clowning around.
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