The children are not asleep!

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to real persons or other real-life entities is purely coincidental. All characters and other entities appearing in this post are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, dead or alive, or other real-life entities, past or present, is purely coincidental.

“Mumma, don’t let go of my hand”

Walking down the dark road in quick steps, tightly clenching his mother’s hand, Veer was trying hard not to trip on the broken pavement in the heavy fog. With visibility close to zero in the late December evening and a single streetlight flickering around the corner, it was getting pretty frightening for him.

“And why did Aunty make you work so late today?” asked the 8-year old lad.

“It’s festival time, and people get ready to party, hence the overwork” said the mother. “The more customers come to the parlor, the better the earning. I might get a New Year bonus too!” she continued.

“You know what, you can get raped here Mumma”.

Blown out of her wits, the mother didn’t know how to respond. This is such a tender age to know and talk about it, let alone warning someone. After a minute of silence, she replied, “Rape? What is this new thing now? Tell me about it” trying to get a sneak peek into his child’s mind.

This unexpected answer left Veer dumbstruck.

“You are such a fool Mumma!”, said Veer. “There are mad men everywhere, Mumma. They can be old or young, illiterate or educated, and they catch women, take off their clothes, sit on them, and kill them afterwards”. Half whispering to himself, he continued, “Just like Papa”.

The conversation left the mother stunned. Walking quietly, she tried to remember the husband, who had left her and their child around six years back. Yes, he was reckless and violent, and had left them for good. But what left her pondering was the fact that the then 1-year old baby had witnessed and remembered the activity one must not know at this age.

Anaaya picked up and re-read the grey colored letter at her desk. Being a child counselor at school, she often received anonymous queries from her students. But this case needed immediate attention. The letter said,

“Dear Anaaya Ma’am,

Until 11 years of age, I have shared the bedroom with my mom and dad. While they don’t know, thinking that I am fast asleep, I have seen my parents getting close at night. I never had the courage to tell them about it, but this made me shit scared. After my sister was born, I got the next room to sleep in. Though I could still hear the sounds and close my eyes hard and listen to the songs, it still feels uncomfortable.

My sister is 2 years old now and shares the bedroom with my parents like I did. I want to help her get out of there. What can I do? I don’t want her to have shameful memories like me, but I cannot speak to my mom about it too.

Please help”

The instances above can be disturbing to some.

While most of the middle- and lower-class Indian population prefers to co-sleep due to small space issues, many prefer to sleep with children purely out of love, preferences, or compulsions. This is especially prevalent in joint families.

We need to ask this to ourselves: Are we exposing our children to something not intended for them at this tender age?

We must understand the dangers of having intimate moments in a child’s presence. The damage this could do to your child can not be overlooked. It can lead to:

  • Hindrance to a child’s overall brain development
  • Misuse of information
  • Anxiety of hiding something
  • Can lead to anger and fear, which might affect their relationships in future
  • Exposing stuff to other innocent children when they go outside

There are a few things parents could do to keep their private time actually PRIVATE.

  • Never ever, EVER, do it in a child’s presence, no matter what the child’s age is or whether he is awake or asleep. Especially during the first 2 years after birth, a child is found to be most observant and most receptive.

You can check out this video shared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India to know more about the importance of the first 1000 days in the development of a child.

  • If giving them a room of their own is not possible, parents must wait for the children to not being around.
  • And always lock the room. Always!

In this already spoilt world, should we not try and protect our kids’ innocence and sanity until we can?

What do you say?

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