When I saw Chotu freely planting kisses on the cheeks of all the aunties/caretakers at his daycare a few days ago, I reminded myself to have “the talk” with him. That night we cuddled up at bedtime and I asked him for a kissie – which he gave. Then I started my talk by telling him kissies are very precious and we shouldn’t give them away to everyone. You should only kiss Amma and Nanna and grandpas and grandmas. We give flying kissies to everyone else because they might have “bacterias” (a term my mom taught him). I don’t want to do “nice” and “bad” people at age three after all.
Chotu listened for a bit and said, “But Babu wants to kiss everyone!” That just broke my heart. How awful is the world out there if we need to teach little children not to be affectionate? I’m squashing the innocence of a three year old because I don’t know who I can trust. It’s not just sexual abuse I’m worried about but the entire spectrum of abuse.
It makes me so angry that we can’t even protect the tiniest and most helpless humans from monsters (hyperbole is justified sometimes, isn’t it?) who would hurt them in the worst ways possible. Instead of coming up with better laws and harsher prosecution, we teach our babies to not be social and to withhold their natural affection. We teach them to be guarded and tell them that evil lurks even within the aunties who care for them all day. We make them rethink their trust in people just when they’re learning to form bonds outside of family.
I’ll be honest, these thoughts make me cry a little. On days when the news has reports of child abuse I kiss my sleeping baby and hug him tight for a few moments grateful that we send him to a school where I can trust people (it’s run by a committee of volunteer parents). Then I think about all those babies out there with no parents to keep them safe and what might happen to them. Of all the things that can shake one’s faith in society (and the existence of God), maybe child abuse is the worst of them all.
Do you have the same worries? How do you deal with these fears as a parent?
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