My fight to go sleeveless

sleeveless

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I wore a sleeveless top today. It transported me to the day (of many) when I had an argument with my mom. In fact, whenever I wear sleeveless tshirts, I remember the times I had an argument with my mom. You see, I was not allowed to wear a sleeveless.

In today times, when city girls wear spaghetti tops without a moment’s thought, a sleeveless for me almost 20 years ago was a big big thing. All my friends wore sleeveless, but I could not. So I would argue regularly with my mom to let me wear one. I fought my case with so much convinction (or with so much persuasion) that she finally caved in. But, not without putting forth some conditions of hers like not to wear it before my dad and no thin straps. It was all acceptable! So, at the age of 19, in my second year of college, I wore a sleeveless shirt for the first time in my life. It was such a hurrah moment for me, a victory of sorts!

Today, however, I do not feel so! Because, today, I am a mom! You know your mom when you become one! And, being a mom I have understood that allowing your child to wear a sleeveless dress is not merely about clothing, but a small part of a mother’s deep philosophy. Will she start experimenting with her freedom? Am I letting her have too much of it? What next? What she will ask for next? Am I being a good mommy? Are the clothes too revealing? Will someone look at her with lustful eyes? Will someone take advantage of her?  

And, when my daughter wears a frock or a skirt, I am forever concerned. Is she wearing a bloomer or not under her skirt? Which places she will be visiting wearing a skirt? What sort of people would be around her?

So, you see, whether a 6 year or a 19 year old daughter , a mom is a mom…her concern never changes – even after 20 years! And, that is why my victory in letting me wear a sleeveless doesn’t seem so big today!

And I will let you know some thing – my father till date doesn’t like me (yes, even when I am married and have a kid), wearing a sleeveless, so I usually avoid wearing it around him.

Now, while I am it, I would like to share one more memory …

In my school, there was this cleaning lady, called ‘Balooben’ (it’s customary in Gujarat to use ‘ben’ as a suffix after an older lady’s name). She used to sit near the washroom. Now, can you imagine the washrooms of 90s, stinking like “you know what!”. Anyway, so this poor lady would always be found sitting near the washroom. And, I would always pity her plight – “Why this poor lady has to sit near this hellhole!” I would wonder!

In the wake of the recent incident where a 7-year old boy was murdered and his body was thrown in the toilet cubicle, I now get the wisdom behind stationing Balooben near the toilets.

We can argue to death that we are in the 21st century, we have the right to dress however we like….! But what we are forgetting is that the society doesn’t change just because we order it to. It might change tomorrow, day after or never…but till then we need to take care of ourselves and our kids !

A food for thought…!!!

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Child Abuse: Is Your Child Safe?

Child Abuse: Is Your Child Safe?

I read a very disturbing article today. It was about an innocent 4 year old getting physically abused by her 17 year old cousin under the pretext of childish games. The girl was innocent, but the boy was not. She didn’t understand things, and hence complied on the temptation of chocolates and ice creams. It just reiterates the fact that 8 out of 10 children who are abused know their abusers who are either their family members or friends.

When my daughter was born, this was the one thing I knew I had to take care of. Even as a newborn, I didn’t change her before her teenage cousins and male domestic helps. My family members thought I was weird and paranoid. I didn’t rise to the bait, and I didn’t change my ways either. Whenever I am visiting my family, I make sure that my daughter doesn’t go out or stay alone with her elder cousins. My parents and in laws feel bad about the situation, but I don’t budge. I don’t care about these feelings; I have got something more important at stake – my daughter’s innocence and life. The best part is my husband supports me too.

It’s not the first incident, and won’t be the last. The onus is on the parents to keep their child safe and secure at all times. Keep in mind these few things:

  • Talk to your child regularly about how his/her private parts are not to be touched by any other apart from her mother/caregiver.
  • Explain to your child that he/she is neither supposed to touch anyone’s private parts nor let anyone touch theirs.
  • Encourage your child to speak freely about his/her sentiments.
  • Don’t change your child’s clothes or give him/her a bath before male family members.
  • Don’t let your little child play alone or go out alone with a male cousin/brother, an uncle or a neighbour.
  • Do not let your elder son (more than 10 years) share the bedroom with your little daughter.
  • Apprise the senior members of your family of the child abuse cases; so they don’t stay in their ignorant bubble and learn what’s happening in the world.

Note: Doctor-Doctor is a game that has a scope of illegit touching and feeling. Don’t encourage this or such games in your absence.

If your child has lost his/her appetite or is feeling listless, scared and withdrawn, talk to her/him. Don’t scold, but try to draw out the story in a gentle manner. If a family member or friend is indeed involved, take up the matter with your family. Nothing, I mean nothing or no one is more important than your child’s innocence and mental and physical health.