Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ramblings of a troubled Mother

I have a 1.5 year old baby girl, BabyS. She is a friendly, out-going happy child. *knock on wood* (Superstitions!) She is a single child and in a few months we are planning to send her to a play school where she can meet children of her own age. we are hoping she will make friends, learn to share and develop her basic skills. But recently, the milestone that I had been so looking forward to for a long time, now just fills me with dread. Everyday as I go through the newspaper and read about rapes and child molestation cases, I am, on one hand, disgusted and mortified at the state of perversion of our men and on the other hand totally and utterly petrified of sending my little baby girl out into a place full of these monsters. The thought of letting her venture out into a world full of sick, depraved and inhumane beasts is enough to give me sleepless nights. Her same qualities, her extrovert nature that used to fill me with joy and pride now has become a reason for my troubled state of mind. 

After the recent spurt of rapes, I read many articles where people were urging mothers to raise responsible men, where they tell parents to teach their sons to respect women and not see them as mere objects. But, what about the men who have already grown up with this notion. The men who have seen their fathers treating their mothers as nothing more as servants. The men who have seen their sisters getting less food than them just because they are girls. they are the real danger, right? they are out there masquerading as the friendly milkman, the nice  newspaper man, or even the educated neighbour. How do you know the difference between them and a maniacal pervert? can you tell them apart?

After reading many of these articles, another thought came into my head. what should I tell my daughter? She is a toddler who loves meeting people. If you smile at her, she will not only smile back but will also give you a flying kiss as a bonus.Recently, on a weekly grocery shopping trip, a young woman smiled and waved at BabyS who got so delighted with this tiny friendly gesture that she jumped out from her father's arms and went to the woman. it took 15 minutes of cajoling on our part for BabyS to return to the protective embrace of her father. As I said before she is a friendly baby. She likes meeting people, she loves making friends. But, not every person who smiles at her is nice. And there will be times we will not be with her to goad her back. how should i prepare her for times like those? Should I curb her natural out-going extrovert personality and instead turn her into a shy introvert baby who shies away from everyone? Is that fair? Should I tell her to not smile back? not to return every wave? Will that help? 

And if you think I am worrying unnecessarily, let me give you an example. Some months back I heard about an instance where a little girl kissed her mother on the lips. the mom didn't think much about it until the girl started using tongue. that's when the warning bells started ringing. when asked where did she learn to kiss like that, she told her much-horrified mother that the drive 'uncle' who drops and picks her to and from her playschool taught her how to do that. she was 2.5 years old. I know of another instance where the owner of a playschool raped a 3 year old girl. These are not isolated incidents. There are many more examples. A 6 year old girl was raped by her neighbor. It seems you can not trust anyone anymore. I do plan to teach her the difference between good and bad touch when she turns a little older but what do I do till now. BabyS is not even two. right now, she doesn't understand the difference between a good touch and a bad touch. She doesn't know that no one except her parents should touch her private parts. what do I tell her till she does start understanding? Should I tell her to distrust every person she ever meets? And what if the man turns out to be someone she knows? like the driver 'uncle' or the servant 'bhaiya' or her friend's 'papa'?

After reading, listening and seeing about all these instances I have started distrusting everyone. whenever the security guard or the courier guy smiles at my daughter, I hold on to her a little tighter. i know it is unfair. not everyone is a paedophile but these stories do color your perception. I understand everyone is not a monster but you never know when someone might turn out to be one. And haven't we be taught since childhood - better safe than sorry?  I am a mother and I have to protect my daughter. So I ask again, what should I do? What should I tell her? Maybe I should home-school her? maybe before teaching her how to swim or play tennis, I should make her learn judo, karate or Taekwondo? Maybe instead of buying barbie dolls for her, I should give her a pepper spray? maybe instead of teaching her to talk softly i should just let her yell and scream? maybe I should pick and drop her and stay outside her classroom everyday? Seems a little farfetched right? Maybe so.

Growing up in India, i have witnessed monsters of my own. i am sure almost all women have. i have been groped in a bus, i have been whistled at, i have been subject to lewd remarks. and honestly i think myself lucky that i didn't encounter more. There have been times when I have kept quiet and there have been instances when I have given it back, where I have made a scene and made sure that the man who was old enough to be my grandfather was left shamefaced when he rubbed against me on purpose . . . or the college student who tried to touch me inappropriately while pretending to be asleep has been taught a lesson. But does that stop the next person to try their 'luck'? I am afraid not. That is the sad state of our nation. The realization that one day, BabyS will step into this world gives me jitters. I know I will have to let her go. she can't walk holding my hand forever. I understand that I will have to let her step out of the protective cocoon that I have created for her and let her fly and reach her true potential.

but, what if my daughter is not as lucky as me? God forbid what if she encounters a big bad wolf? How should I prepare her for that? what should I tell her? should I tell her to bow down her head, dress conservatively and not trust people? should i tell her to not attract attention to herself but instead be a part of the crowd and accept this as her fate? but will that help? or should I tell her instead to be her usual friendly self and not be scared to fight back at the risk of losing her life or being scarred for years to come? and then i think what good will that do too? she will end up being just another statistic. We all know how the justice system works (or doesn't work) in our country. the 'juvenile' involved in one of the most horrific gang-rape cases could be free in three years. and the young girl who dared to fight back is no more. Another sad reality of the world we live in.

My 1.5 year old daughter is going to start playschool soon. she will be away from my eyes for two-three hours everyday. I would have to trust men and women i have never met in my life to take care of my little baby girl. I have six months to prepare her and myself for this new phase in our life. I am scared and I don't know what to tell her. I don't know what to do. do you?

3 comments:

  1. Well I have a 2 yr old daughter myself and I have no answers to any of the questions that you have put forth in your post. Both my wife and me grapple with each and every one of these doubts that you have listed in this post, and it is only Faith in God or Fate (call it what you will) that helps us send her to playschool every single day.

    There is no way that we can teach our kids about each and every single bad thing in the world, or to be aware of everything that is happening around her. We can only teach her the basics, and believe that she will be smart enough to figure things out on her own, that's all.

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  2. I completely agree with all your thoughts and confusions. I have two kids (both boys) and now ,it seems, I have to put in extra thoughts and care in bringing them up and teaching them on how not to treat women/girls. And I am, too, petrified sending them out in the big bad world.

    But as mahabore said, there is only a limit to which we can control things/events happening with our children. We just have to be positive and do our best in teaching them to be a good human being first. Sadly, that is all we can do.

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  3. Right... I just started sending my daughter to playschool and the time she is away from my eyes, I am worried. But, I have learnt to let go... I have realized I can't control everything but I can teach her to take care of herself which I will do at the appropriate time. Thanks for your inputs... I was quite relieved to read that I am not the only one out there :)

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