How soon is too soon?-CSAAM 2011
CSA is a topic close to my heart and when Monika and Kiran first asked,if I would be interested in contributing to this cause,I jumped in. But,after reading the survivor stories,I couldn’t stop thinking about it..It brought me down,to think of the sick perverted world we live in..and though,I knew,what I wanted to write about..I didn’t know,it would be so hard..The post below is a concerned mother’s ramblings and so,may sound disconnected,but,I had to put it down in writing..
I often wonder if I did the right thing by starting to talk to my daughter about ‘touch’ so early. She was a little over two and a very very friendly child,who would freely give hugs and kisses to anyone who asked,as long as it was a person,who was talking to us or someone who met us often.We were getting ready to go to India and I started to freak out.For one,if would be my first visit with her alone and no SD to watch over her,if I was busy. We were going to attend two weddings in the family..And the last thing I needed was her going off with someone and me spending the next couple minutes worrying and fussing.So,I told her,gently.. No going away with anyone,when Mumma is busy.I didn’t know how to explain the concept of strangers to a two year old.During the weddings,between my sister and I,we made sure,she wasn’t alone with anyone without us being present. That and the fact that she had only been with me,made her stay close to me.I was more than happy.
But,as our stay extended and she got familiar with people and the place,she was brave enough to explore and I was forever trying to keep her in my sights.It was hard for me to explain to my father why,it wasn’t OK for her to be left downstairs with a visitor,he knew,when he ran upstairs for 5 mins to grab his cheque book. He just didn’t understand why I was making all the fuss.But,its the sad reality of the day that you can’t be too careful around your kids these days. There could be a monster lurking under a perfectly normal looking person. And I am as paranoid as they get..I’d rather be cautious than sorry.
I remember growing up,we were reminded to not open the door to anyone,if our parents weren’t home-my sister and I were never left alone with any male relative or servant..mom was always around,never to accept things from anyone without first checking with mom/dad..and now,I understand all that.And I try to tell my daughter the same things.
Babushka is a very perceptive child and I admit,its easier to talk to her. After her second birthday,she was suddenly forming more independent relationships and happy to go to our friends’ houses,without us. And,so,it became important for me to tell her,what was acceptable and what wasn’t.First thing,I told her was-
No-one was allowed to change her diaper-except Mommy or Daddy.In any case,we almost never left her alone anywhere for more than half an hour..so that worked out fine.
The next thing I told her was-
No-one was allowed to touch her Nangu or Bumpy-except Mommy or daddy,when they were washing/cleaning her.And since we always,made sure,we were the only ones who ever did this,we were safe.There was one time,when she had pooped in her diaper and she refused to let my MIL clean her and MIL was upset about it..but the way,I look at it-she did good..what we were telling her-she remembered it and implemented it.
And the most recently,since she sometimes gets picked and dropped from school and dance class by her friends’ parents,I told her that-
She is never to be alone with anyone-no matter who that is
And when she comes back,from a play-date,we talk..well mostly,I ask questions and she answers.Now,sometimes,she starts telling,even before I ask..sometimes,she asks me-Why do you want to know?Then,I tell her,”Because,I am your mommy and I like to know what you did..”
The first time,I started talking about stranger danger and no touching,SD was very apprehensive..he asked me,why would I want to scare her,so early on in life..But,now he sees differently. And he is being proactive too.
Like for instance,an acquaintance,lets call him R, just doesn’t give me the right vibe,specially when he is around Babushka.Now,he has a kid of the same age as Babs..so SD would generally ignore them,when R was entertaining the kids..One time,we both overheard R telling his kid that Babs needs to be spanked..I was in the other room,and I came out and asked him,if everything is OK?he said yes,we are just playing..SD was in the same room,but he didn’t say anything,but asked me later..why did he say that..I got mad at him and told him,he was there..he should have been around his daughter,instead of sitting back and watching.
The next time,when R and family were visiting,R was reading books to the kids and Babs asked him,if he could move a little,please,so she could see the book too..and he said NO..and asked her to sit in his lap,if she wanted to see the book. It could be something innocent.. but I wonder why would he ask Babushka to sit in his lap,while his own child was sitting next to him.I immediately called Babushka away.SD thought something was weird too..and he called her over to show her something fun on his phone..Needless to say,we are not really friendly with them any more.May be I am paranoid,but like I said,I would rather be cautious than sorry.
SD was so mad.And we did have a talking to with Babushka after this.She told me,she was getting scared and I could see that she was..so,we stopped talking..but not before telling her,that she didnot do anything wrong..and she had to come and tell us,if anything or anyone made her uncomfortable..Then we all went out for ice-cream.
We still have this chat,every once in few days and imagine my joy,when I told her,when I was going for a shower,that she was not to open the door,for anyone..and she said,”yes,Mommy..not to anyone,not to your friends,only for Daddy”.And recently at a party,when she wanted to go down the slide,and someone we know,offered her help,coz she was stuck,she refused.I actually fought my inner demons and asked that person to help-it was a big deal even for me to ask-but SD was nowhere to be seen and there is no way,my pregnant bulk would have fit in the small space..When I asked her why she didn’t go down the slide with M bhaiya,she said,she didn’t feel comfy.She asked me,if its ok to say,No?I said.. yes,ofcourse it is..and that she did a good thing. I think I am doing something right!
Babushka is a very friendly child but she is also very intuitive..so,if we see that she is not comfortable around someone,we don’t force her to come and say hello..or give them a cuddle,even if they ask for one.At the same time,we don’t stop her from giving cuddles to someone that she likes..only,we make sure,we are watching her..all the time.:)
I grew up in a colony of officers and managers,all educated people-but one,where no-one thought anything of an uncle,who was over-familiar with the neighbours kids,or the uncle who would get extra close to the girls after a couple of drinks..or the father,who after a couple of drinks,would push his wife away and insist on dancing with his daughter..while his wife, son and friends watched on-no-one bothering to rescue the poor girl.This was a place,where it was all the aunties’ business to gossip about the girl,who was seen coming home from college,with the same boy,twice..It didn’t matter that they stayed in the same building and studied in the same college..But,the very same aunties,didn’t think of asking the gardner,why he was taking a little boy into the club-house all alone.Nor did they ask the canteen incharge to stop ogling at the little girls going down the slide.And no-one EVER spoke about it..NEVER! That is what needs to change.
I am sorry that I am not as carefree as my parents were,I am sorry that my daughter has to grow up in this kind of a world..but ,I am not sorry,that I started talking to her,so early.
Because,really..it is not too early..
There is still so much,I have to say..but,I think I will stop here,for now.
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Edited to add: This post was picked by BlogAdda as suggested reading:)