"I feel anxious," she said, as I opened the book. Then her face turned red and she asked if Daddy could leave the room.
My heart dropped into my stomach.
She told me she'd been at a friend's house and they'd been watching music videos on YouTube. They came to the P!nk video for Perfect. She thought it would be okay because I've showed her P!nk videos before -- the lawnmower, the acrobats -- I don't blame them for thinking it would be fine.
This one was not fine.
In the video, the girl carves "Perfect" into her arm in the bathtub. Blood everywhere.
"I didn't know you could cut yourself on purpose," my girl sobbed. She couldn't stop crying, and she couldn't unsee the bathtub scene.
We prayed. I sang to her. She kept crying. I didn't know what to do.
"You know what? Sometimes you just need your daddy."
I went and got him. She was afraid he'd be mad she'd watched the video. He wasn't. We talked to her about not watching things on the Internet when we're not around, because the Internet is full of things that are very hard to unsee. Then he held her until she fell asleep.
I went downstairs, watched the video three times, called my sister.
In the morning, I told my girl I'd watched the video. I told her the storyline was actually about a girl who'd had a bad childhood but grew up to get married and have her own little girl and how she saved her own childhood bear for her little girl and in the end, everything was okay. The little angel smiled. "I think the bathtub scene was in the story to show just how bad things were before they got better," I said. "Writers do that. It's called 'conflict,' and it's a device. The video wasn't real -- it was a story to go with the song."
(Which is why it's easier for me to read fiction than nonfiction. I can always tell myself the conflict is just a writerly device.)
She went to school, and I spent the rest of the day trying not to think of all the other things she would see and not understand. All the things that would eventually chip away at her innocence until she would have to choose, as I have, to believe that 99% of people mean you no harm and the world is not a horrible, scary place unless you believe it is one.
Remember when you didn't know people could hurt themselves on purpose? I had forgotten there was ever a time like that.