Years or months ago I’d written about how I don’t like shy kids (meaning I don’t like my kids to be shy, alright Poppy?!). I’ve also blogged about how clingy and cranky the Bean was when she was an infant. I’ve also written about my childhood sexual abuse incident and how it horrifies me to think of my daughter ever experiencing anything even close. All of it just went around in my head and created a cess pool.
I knew I *wanted* my daughter to be fearless and she is. She charges up to huge dogs, yells at strangers who trouble her brother, jumps off high walls, climbs the highest slides, tastes everything new without cringing and much more. But nothing comes without a price and I often wondered how I’d temper this fearlessness with teaching her a healthy fear for strangers and not walking off with them. It’s hard because I have friends and visitors coming over all the time and the kids learn to say ‘hello’ to a new face every few days.
It’s also sad that we need to teach our daughters to be fearful (not that I don’t realise the risks our sons run) and enforce that sort of gender bias. But the Bean put my fears to rest on our Diwali train trip to Allahabad. We had just about settled in to the train when someone began to make overtures.
As a younger parent I had often handed the Brat over to others at a party easily – partly pride and partly to get a break. But I realise as I grow older that I am more scared to let anyone lay a finger on my children. I am getting more paranoid and I don’t know how to back that paranoia up with the guts to say no.
As I sat there wondering whether it was okay to let him put his greasy paws on the Bean, she took the matter out of my hands. Looking him up and down she considered it and then turning to me said, “Mamma, I don’t like this man. I don’t want to go to him.”
I wanted the earth to open up and swallow him. Because of course I want everything to come wrapped neatly in a ribbon. I didn’t want her to go but I didn’t want to be rude either, you know!
I looked at the OA who looked away in disbelief. And then I stammered an apology to the gentleman telling him that she was shy (yeah right!) and then firmly told her that she doesn’t have to go to anyone she doesn’t want to, but that it’s rude to tell someone that you don’t like them.
I don’t know how much of it she understood and whether she got the nuance of it or not, but I am so glad for her strong instincts. I have poor instinct and bad judgment, often trusting people who come right into my home and breach my trust. But I think I can strike this worry off my list.
Okay next… unsuitable clothing… hmm….
*goes off, brow creased, looking for something new to fret over*