Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Building faith

It’s been a whole month of stories, awareness and healing. The month of April is when a bunch of ladies get together to look at a social monster in the eye. This monster is called Child sexual Abuse (CSA). We do our best to help others talk, think and act towards paralyzing this monster. It’s a very heavy month. Heavy with emotions, stories, tears and survivors. Most of all, heavy with fear.

As a mother, today I wonder. What will I do starting tomorrow? Another month, another day.  After an entire month of awareness campaign and talking what is right and what is not, what now? How am I going to help my daughter from the clutches of this monster. I hate to admit that the clutches are capable of reaching her too.

So, we talked a lot about teaching children to use the golden word ‘no’.  We talked about enabling them to be able to:
  • recognise safe touch from the unsafe one.
  • respect and love their body.
  • have the courage to stay away from uncomfortable situations.
  • in control of their body.
  • respect people for their actions and not because they are older.
  • make and follow their own safety rules.
  • respect others’ safety rules.
 Now, I think of a simple household scenario. A mother gives her child milk to drink. The child returns  complaining it is too hot. What does she do? Say, ‘Oh, it isn’t. I know. So, drink it.’?

This is the most common answer. How about thinking for a moment that maybe our ‘not so hot’ is indeed ‘hot’ to that individual? Let us try and understand that our child is a different individual and is not a part of our individualism. Or maybe, the milk isn’t really hot at all. But any way, let us maybe for a change say, ‘Oh yes, it is. Let me do something about it.’ Maybe go into the kitchen and do something/nothing about it and just bring back the milk. How do you think this will help him/her? It helps to build a trust factor. For our son/daughter to know, mamma knows that I know.

When my daughter says, ‘Amma, tummy full’, while I feed her. I simply stop. Who am I to say ‘No, your tummy is not full’? Maybe she is right, maybe she isn’t. But I do know, if she is hungry, she will come back for food/snack. So, I need not be worried. No child stays hungry for any reason.

Similarly, the other day – my daughter had rashes in her inner thigh. And she was crying. I was consoling her and while I told her, let me see and apply ointment, she said no (hiccups of teaching children to say ‘no’ J). What did I do? I stepped away. Did not touch her. I told her, if I need to help you, let me see and touch the rashes. But if you do not want me to, I will not. By the way, it isn’t very easy to say that. But I did. I better practice what I preach. In another 10-15 minutes, she came to me saying ‘Amma, you look and put medicine for me’.

Such instances help me build faith. Helps me trust her more. And hopefully, in the process – she knows her Amma trusts her words and that she knows her body best and have the right over it.

This isn’t  very easy. To say no cousins/relatives, when my daughter does not like being carried by them. But I do it anyway.

As I bring up my four-year-old, I am growing. As I teach her to say no, am learning the lesson too. As I teach her to respect her body, I am learning to respect mine. We are growing up together.
I also want her to know that shame and respect does not live in her body. And that they are the demons within ourselves. We need to look at them in the eye and deal with them, before we face the monster outside. I want my daughter to know no part of her body is good or bad. I want her to love her body because she was born with it. It is a gift. And not have pride in it. She did not do anything towards gaining it. Let her pride reside within her thoughts and actions. So be her shame.
This isn’t an easy one, for I need to get the basics right myself. But this is a journey am embarking on from this moment. A journey to meet my demons and deal with them.