Why is my baby scared?


Her voice on the phone was nervous, jittery. Unlike her usual chirpy, vivacious self.

What’s wrong, love? I ask her.

She needs little encouragement and the whole story comes tumbling out. They’re a nuclear couple like the OA and I. But they’re luckier. They have both sets of grandparents living in the NCR, not too far away. But she’s as particular as I am and won’t leave her daughter with either househelp alone or send her to daycare. It makes for a tricky balance, but then we all know what it’s like to have a dozen balls up in the air and skates strapped on to our feet. So some nights if they head out partying, they drop her with her maternal grandparents. Other times with her paternal grandparents.

Until a few weeks ago she began to act up. Each time she was told she was going to her paternal grandparents home she would act up, misbehave, run and hide in her room. As it happens the mother is an involved, aware one and saw the pattern. Her paternal grandparents usually spoiled her rotten and she loved going there, so my friend was at a complete loss as to why she was behaving this way.

The problem with parents like us, again, the involved, aware ones, is that we’ve heard too much, seen too much, and worry too much. On the other hand, I think we’d rather be this way and worry ourselves bald, than not notice when things are wrong or live in denial. So we both knew what she was suspecting. But neither of us wanted to say the words. CSA.  Child Sexual Abuse. Three little words that put terror into the hearts of every parent.

The political issue here was that it was her in-laws. And while she feared that there was something going wrong at their place, she didn’t want to name her fears and neither did she want to upset her husband. Who to be fair, is as aware, involved and good a parent as any, and a great guy. Why is my child scared, MM, she broke down. Why is she scared?

Anyhow I calmed her fears, told her that if indeed someone was hurting her child, she was best placed to find out. And so the parents sat the little girl down, spent an hour talking to her and cajoling her and finally got the truth out. The grandparents had some regular visitors – neighbours. And of the old couple who visited, the gentleman was very fond of their daughter. He often jokingly told her he was going to take her home and keep her with them because she was so cute.She was terrified that one day he’d actually take her away.

This isn’t something we’re unused to. We hardened kids who grew up at a time when canings in school were par for the course and parents told us that the babaji down the road carried away kids who didn’t eat their greens. Were we scared? Hell yes, that’s how we ate our greens. Did we end up traumatised for life? Erm, no.

I don’t know how my friend plans to request the old gentleman not to scare her daughter but she and her husband did speak to the little girl and tell her that God’s plan was for them to be a family and no one could or would take her away. She went to Dada-Dadi’s house calmly the next night.

False alarm this was, but it was a wake up call. And it was a pleasant realisation that  parents in our generation are paying attention. And are willing to confront family even if it means a very unpleasant situation. Something our parents were loathe to do. More power to my friend and parents like her.

Have you guys seen this video, by the way? Can’t figure out a way to embed it. It’s a punch in the gut.

Be aware. Stay alert. Keep talking to your child. Believe your child. Never mind who it is, stand up for your child. Always. Stay strong.

PS: In case you are wondering how to bring it up, this is how we talk about it with the Brat and the Bean.

16 thoughts on “Why is my baby scared?

  1. I am seriously considering quitting my job because I just don’t get to spend enough time with my 3 year old son. I tried everything to pull this off — night shifts, husband working from home, a really good nanny…but nothing can stop this ache in my heart… i want to be around him…i walk around in office with a hole in my heart!
    Being a victim of CSA myself, I am forever paranoid and torn between my fears, and my desire to give my son a “normal”, secure childhood.. I somehow think I just need to be around more (not that this is a sure shot way to prevent anything, but….)
    I have no idea how we are going to manage financially if I quit without some freelance work…
    I just need strength to take the plunge.. please push me off the cliff someone 🙂

  2. MM,

    when I read the title I was scared, worried – oh what is with Bean/Brat – so many thoughts in those 10 seconds while navigating from artnavy’s blog to here…

    Your friend handled it well – with lot of grace and love..

    So how are you MM? how are kids and OA?

  3. CSA. Yet another hushed TLA like STD. Indeed, it is one of those unsettling issues that tugs at my greying roots. But baldness is a better alternative to blindness. I hope I’m able to see the very things I don’t want to. I hope the choke-hold of society, complications of family and paralysis of fear do not silence me.

    I saw that video you linked an hour ago. So difficult to watch all the way through, so necessary. So many conversations I really need to start having with my children, but have procrastinated because I can’t find the right words. Thank you dear MM, for a much needed slap.

  4. I am glad to hear this story.

    Also, this reminds me of the time one of my close friends would jokingly talk of exchanging her son with my daughter. a few times of this and i had to request her not to say it in front of the children. An unneccessary precaution (or not), but y take a chance with kids? thankfully, she took it in stride and stopped her habit.

    This incident of madmomma’s friend reaffirms my belief that parents of today r more aware and march in step with the needs of their children. Kudos.

  5. I just got done watching that video on Facebook and then read the post. Thank God it was a false alarm. May we all be blessed with only such false alarms to worry about. We have spoken over and over about good touch and bad touch with DD, but it still bothers me that she may not come to us or even think something is wrong if it is a known person or family until something truly terrible happens. I have to find a way to convey the seriousness of this to her without completely destroying her innocence or her ability to love and trust people.

  6. I just watched the video that was posted on Facebook and it really broke my heart. As a victim myself I am so happy to see that this issue is being brought to light and people are talking about it. I never opened up about my experience but I am so glad to see that parents are attentive and actually take time to listen/explain it to their children. I don’t have any kids yet but I am scared every day of bringing up one in this present. I know we can only protect them so much. It’s terrible for a child to go through with this. I’m glad your friend only had a false alarm.

    • Well I had bad experiences that I’ve blogged about. And I know how it scars you for life. It’s why I work from home and refuse to leave my kids with anyone else. The ripples continue to guide my choices …

  7. Wake up call it is. But is there an age when it might be more appropriate to start talking about this? I don’t want to scare Ah, she’s about 2.5. But may be like you said in the CSA post, we sneak it into the barrage of rules we throw at her on a daily basis. Food for thought tonight!

    • If you start early, it doesn’t come as a shock. I wish I’d started earlier for Brat. I did start very early for Bean. To the best of my knowledge, they’ve not been harmed yet. It’s like telling our kids to watch out for traffic, look left and right. In no way does it scare them off roads altogether.. no?

  8. My heart skipped a beat when I read this post. Thank god! it is better now. I spoke to my 8 year old girl about good touch vs bad touch 4 years ago. I talk to her everyday and ask her about her school and after school activities. Communication is the key here. I don’t send her for sleepovers or play dates. My neighbor’s husband is known to be a lecher, he has a cute daughter who is my daughter’s friend, she has asked me countless times to send her over for a play date, I always come up with an excuse, because, you never know what that lecherous bastard would do. We have to build a fortress around our kids and shelter and protect them. Thanks for this post MM, this just reiterates the fact that we as parents have to be very involved.

  9. Pingback: Why is my baby scared? -The Madmomma | CSA Awareness Month

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