I took all three kids to the police station to thank an officer. Knowing the police had been present at painful times in their lives, I wanted to them to build positive associations with law enforcement.
As we drove away, they talked about how the last time they saw the police, their biological dad was arrested. Jen, who rarely said anything negative about her parents, asked “Did you know that when he got angry, he used to beat us?”
“Yes,” I told her, “I know and it makes me very angry and sad.”
Then Victor remembered aloud seeing his dad pull his mom up the stairs by the hair. More stories came out. Finally Jen asked, “Can we talk about good memories now?”
Fast forward to a few nights later. At 1:00am, Nick woke up screaming with fear. His night terrors had intensified as he, Victor and Jen neared their move to a permanent adoptive family.
I carried him to a couch in the master bedroom. As I settled back into bed with Liz, we heard a very small voice from the couch.
“Will you keep me safe?”
And for once, I realized the question wasn’t just about monsters in the dark.
“Yes buddy, I’ll keep you safe.”