Sometimes we do our best to take care of our children, but the worst of the world still seems to seep into our lives. Not unlike a Miley Cyrus song getting stuck in our heads.
During one summer a number of years ago, my wife babysat two young neighbor kids while their parents worked each day. Nick and Jenna were close to the same age as our own two children and the four kids enjoyed running around the house, water fights, jumping on the trampoline, and generally tormenting each other.
One evening, their father came over as I stood in the driveway. I offered a friendly greeting but he didn’t seem so happy to greet me back. I soon understood why.
He showed me a crayon drawing. “Your daughter Miara gave this to Jenna today.”
I looked at the cute picture of a lamb with a bunny family under the watchful care of a giant sun wearing sunglasses, and commented on Miara’s artistry.
“Turn it over and read what’s on the back,” he said to me.
I flipped it around and started reading a story that only took a few lines before I realized it was disgusting, x-rated erotica. As my face turned red, Miara happened to walk up from behind me.
I asked if she drew the picture.
“Yeah, I gave it to Jenna,” came the proud response. She couldn’t have been more happy that two dads were discussing her artful project.
I asked where she got the paper.
“From under your mattress!”
Well, that was awkward.
Our neighbor gave me an icy stare and said he preferred his kids not have access to that type of material. I certainly couldn’t blame him. I wished my own kids didn’t either. In fact, it would probably be better if adults didn’t.
Completely flummoxed about the paper’s origin, I muttered something about getting back with him. He left and I immediately retreated inside and headed to the small pile of used scratch paper under our bed that the kids used for their drawings. On the pile sat the rest of the story, printed out in fine, salacious detail.
At that point, I became really confused. And embarrassed. Where had it come from? I asked my wife who said she’d found the story in the garbage can in my brother’s room. Without reading it, she figured it would make good scratch paper for the kids. And apparently Miara felt the same.
So Jeremy—a recently returned Mormon missionary—was the culprit. He lived with us at the time while attending school. I waited in the living room for him to return home and immediately confronted him. That’s when we finally learned who the real pervert was. As it turned out, Jeremy got it from a fellow classmate in his creative writing class. He’d been assigned to read and critique it, but upon seeing the contents, thought it made better kindling than reading, and so threw it away, where Stephanie later found it.
And that’s how Miara’s cute bunny family became part of a porn novel and our neighbors totally lost respect for us. I wonder if Jenna’s dad ever really believed the whole explanation.