Shame, Shame
|   Sep 13, 2016
Shame, Shame

My five-year old joined her new school a few months ago, her first "big" one. She's happy and has made a lot of new friends, including most of the staff right up to the coordinator. All's well, but she has been coming home, quite often, not in her school uniform but her spare set of clothes, which means accidents have been happening one too many; she has not been able to control her bladders, and in some cases bowels too. But she's happy-go-lucky, and quite nonchalant about it all because we haven't raised her to feel ashamed of her body. (As an aside, I receive her uniform all washed and folded, which is one good thing to come out of it.)

At home, we do not use words like "Chhee, chhee!"/ "Shame, shame!" and neither do we allow others to do so. My daughter doesn't know what it means to feel anxious about herself. So when I questioned her about soiling her clothes, she thought for a while, then said: "Mom, you rush me! I don't get the time to do my potty!" Okay then. I changed her schedule in the morning, and all's well now. 

At a 'Body Safety' workshop in her pre-school, I had learned many new things, and a lot of what I knew already was validated. The expert had emphasized that we shouldn't use cutesy pet names for private body parts, and that is why my daughter's lexicon includes words like anus, vagina and pelvis. Then I remember my own childhood. Like most girls growing up in the India of the eighties, I was raised with many strict rules of conduct and a whole range and variety of taboos. Most of these, I feel, were designed for our so-called good but ended up making us feel ashamed or guilty... Don't sit with your legs apart!/ Your chemise is showing!/ Shh..!/ Haw!

Some of those words still hurt. And so, I try my best not to make my daughter feel bad about her body. My daughter will grow up being free. As long as she takes care not to harm herself or others. 

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