Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Stop it.

This morning I left my kids in the car with it running while I ran inside to get the Netflix and drop it into the mail. Don't chastise, you know all you mothers have done it at least once in your lives. Nothing horrible happened. I left the door open, and ANYWAY, that has nothing to do with this blog except that it sets the scene for what happened next.

As I was walking back from the mailbox, I heard my daughter screaming. When I looked into the backseat of the car, I could see my son reaching over and trying to tickle her and she was trying to push his hands away and crying. He knew that she wanted him to stop, but he kept doing it anyway. I saw it.

I told him to stop and he said "I was just tickling her!"

"She was crying because she wanted you to stop."

...

"But you did it more anyway. You are in time out. Five minutes. When someone says to stop, you stop. When [your sister] is crying it means that she wants you to stop. You don't keep doing it. You stop."

He did his time on the curb in front of our house while I made faces at my daughter through the car window. It was freezing, so I thought it best to let her sit in the heating car. The windshield wipers and defrost were on full blast so I could forgo scraping the windows, especially since I didn't have a scraper.

As I looked from my son to my now giggling daughter, I admit I felt a little sick. Why did he keep tickling her when it was so obvious she wanted him to stop it? Why would he do something like that?

I talked to him again after the time out and then we headed to his school. It was pretty quiet in the car. I had some time to think - which is rare in our family.

While were were sitting at a red light I had a little flashback to a few months ago when my husband's parents were here and my son's grandfather was tickling him.

"Stop it!" he yelled through forced laughter. Grandpa didn't stop it. Grandpa kept it up. And the other adults laughed. I remember this bothering me a lot, but I wasn't sure what to say. This seemed to be how grandfather's played with their grandkids.

There was another time when he was wrestling with my brother at Thanksgiving and he said "let me go!" My brother said "What's the magic word?" and my son said, obviously feeling out of control and a little scared "Please!", and then his uncle let him out of the "hold".

I remember as a child my own uncle played with me like that. I hated it. He was my least favorite uncle because I hated that feeling of being held down and unable to move, barely able to breath enough to choke out the word "Please!"

All of these flashbacks showed me something.

If this is how we play with children. If this is how we allow our children to be treated. How can they EVER say "No!" and mean it when they grow up? How can our sons understand that when a girl says "Stop it!" she MEANS it. She shouldn't have to say "Please!"

It seems, when I step back in this way, a twisted game of control, and it scares me. A small child couldn't hope to have control over an adult so much bigger than him. He pleads for them to stop and they DO NOT STOP or they tell them that they must SAY THE MAGIC WORD... this is wrong. We should treat our children with the respect we expect them to show others.

Treating them in this way will only show that the bigger person has all the power. The person who is physically stronger is always in control. Someone smaller or weaker must be subservient. Must ask permission. Must beg.

I think that these are the sorts of situations out of which rapists are born.

I am not saying that my brother or father-in-law, both of whom I love, mean any harm. Or that my uncle did when I was a child. Or that my son will grow up to hurt those weaker than himself... but it is an awful paradox to get through, is it not?

I hope that next time I will have the courage to say something - that God will give me the right words to say to explain why I don't want my children treated this way. That it will make sense to someone other than me.

4 comments:

clarkle said...

I liked your post. It reminded me of another blog article I've read on yesmeansyes.com. The website itself is based on a book I'm dying to get my hands on:

http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/29/if-shes-not-having-fun-you-have-to-stop/

WolfeFamily said...

wonderful blog. i agree completly with you

sweet&broken said...

I remember similar things as a child too. I have always HATED being tickled - and now that you mention it, its probably b/c I remember adults trying to tickle you and being rough, and it doesn't tickle and its just irritating and they don't stop. I even remember thinking if I giggled they'd stop, since stop didn't work. I think its a guy thing too - I cant imagine playing rough with any child until they say please. Thought provoking for sure.

Missy said...

thanks so much for the comments :-)

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