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A couple of days last week, when the kids came back from school, the bus had a male attender. Which is generally not the case. Last one full year, the bus has never had male attenders. Or may be, I had not noticed or kept track of it as much as I do now. Now, I am such a panic stricken mum. And, I don’t have to elaborate on the reason. As soon as the kids got down from the bus, my first question to them, although casually, was, ‘Did anyone do bad touch to you today?’

Most of the time, I have a feeling that this question and my constant reiterations of good and bad touch to the kids might be my maternal instincts going a tad too little overboard because of the happenings around us. The other day, I was discussing this with a fellow parent in my apartment and we were wondering if we are breaking that tiny bit of innocence that is left in the kids. Already, the kids are growing at a pace twice as much as we did and with all these ‘educative precautions’ that we take only plunges in further into their innocence.

But, as a parent, isn’t it always better to be safe than be sorry later?

There are a couple of kids, girls to be specific, of ages six and nine in my apartment. I see them almost every day at the park. They are friends and generally hang out together. They go to one of my friend’s house every other day to play with her daughter, who is not even three yet. The thing is these two kids like to play with the smaller child’s toys which my friend is completely okay with. This has been happening for the last few months or so. And, until today, not one of us has seen the parents of these two kids. The other day, it was pouring and while we (my kids and me!) took shelter on the way to the park, these two were drenched and still hanging around in the rain. I asked them to run to their homes and get changed as soon as possible. Now, when it is raining and your kid is out in the park, would you as a parent come checking on her/him? Or, am I being overly protective?

There is one boy, about eight, who comes often to our house at odd hours (Nine in the night is odd for a eight year old, right?) and rings the bell to play with the kids. I wouldn’t mind it at all but nine is well beyond bed time for my kids. Also, when your child is not back home by nine, would you as a parent, get concerned?

We live in a gated community which is considered safe. Safe in what aspects, I still do not know. May be, it is my auditor’s mind working overtime but I generally try not believing whatever I see. It is not that ninety in a hundred people (I say people and not men. Women can be a part of the scheming or even act too in my opinion!) are potential rape threats. Not at all. In fact, ninety nine in a hundred people are good nice and concerned people. Yet..

This is the over-protective mum (helicopter parenting, anyone?) speaking. Today, I read through this post on not being overly protective. Yes.. The blogger talks about an American scenario where crime rates are lower and all that. We might not be able to relate that to India. Agreed. But, our childhood was more carefree, wasn’t it? We, at least I, wasn’t educated about good or bad touch and all. I traveled by an overcrowded cycle rickshaw to school wearing skirt, sometimes riding on ‘top’ for lack of space! (Those of who have traveled by a rickshaw will know what are ‘tops’!) This, until my sixth standard. And, believe me, I knew how to handle those b*****ds when they used to tease us. After sixth standard, it was public bus which was even worse. Did child sexual harassment and rapes not exist then? Of course, they did. Did rapes go unreported? May be. Were our parents less concerned about our safety? Probably, not. Were they ignorant about the happenings around us? May be. May be not.

Is it okay to keep the children ignorant? No way. But somewhere, we need to draw that line; the line of best fit which doesn’t intrude into their innocence yet keeps the kids in the watch out for ‘bad’ people. But, I am yet to figure out how to do this balancing act. I don’t even know if I ever will. As you can see, this post has more questions than answers. Just like how parenting works in this big bad world; more questions, fewer answers!

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