Where we talk about breasts!

That is as forthright as I’m going to get.

Recently, I had a good talk with my 6 year old curious mind about, you guessed it, breasts.

We had just wrapped up playing a round of snap. I was gearing up to get on with the rest of the day’s chores, when Namnam came to me for a cuddle, and burst out laughing while trying to peek into my shirt. This went on for two to three times. Each time she hugged, she would look at my breasts and start laughing.

I asked her, “What happened, Namnam? Why are you laughing?”

She said, “Nothing”.

I asked her again, “What is it, tell me?”

Again, “Nothing”.

I keep my cool, laugh with her and ask her again, “Is it some kind of a game you play?”

She said, “Yes. I am laughing at your ‘this’ (pointing to my breasts)”.

I knew then and there that it was time for one of those talks.

She obviously didn’t know what ‘this’ was called so I decided to introduce the term to her and said with the smile intact, “Yes, THIS is my breasts”.

And continued, “So what game is it that you play?”

That’s when she divulged that she and her friends played this game where they would show off each other’s ‘breasts’ and laugh.

Now, 6 years of parenting have given me a lot of instances to learn how a child’s mind works. Of course, I’m not yet adept at grasping their minds..I’m still learning though. However it doesn’t alarm me anymore when I hear of all the games kids of today indulge in. I had even blogged about one such game here.

So I won’t be lying if I said that I was expecting to be faced with a situation when my kid also might come across a game of this sort at some point of time. And although I have known that there may not be A right way to address such a situation, yet as a parent it would be in my hand to address it in as apt a way as possible.

So..coming back to our talk, when I learnt about this game that Namnam played with her friends I realized that if I had to ensure my child didn’t get any wrong notions about things as basic as parts of her body, I would have to explain things to her in an appropriate and frank manner.

I told her that breasts were as important a part of our body as any other. So they were not something to be made fun of, but something a woman should be proud of.
I said that I was proud to have them because they helped me make her, my baby, stronger when she was born. I went on to tell her her how I used to breast feed her and continued feeding till she was about two. To which she asked if she could be fed like that even now. I explained that breast milk would not be enough for her anymore since she was big now and in need of healthier and more nutritious food..
I said that, she would have them too when she is bigger and when she does, she too must be proud to have them. I told her that one day she may also breast-feed her babies. Her instant reaction was, “Babies? Noway! I will have just one baby…ONE!!” 😀

Well….anyway, I, then reminded her of the conversation we had had once about baby-making. And she remembered all that I told her about how and from which part of me, she was born. It gave me a good chance to remind her that genital area was another important part of her body which she had to guard extremely well. I went on to explain how she must take care of each and every part of her body, not let anyone touch her inappropriately. I was happy to realize that she remembered and agreed with that bit.

I don’t know how well she registered all that I said, but I felt nice to have been able to explain things to her openly. Because this way I could cover topics which were otherwise considered taboo and sensitive, make her understand that she didn’t have to ever feel hesitant or embarrassed to talk about them with me or her father.

This little talk that we had is not such a big deal..yet. I know that. The day is not far when her curious mind will come up with a lot more detailed queries and then I will have to be ready with equally detailed answers. But what this conversation has given us is a good grounding for any future tackling of sensitive issues with frank and open discussions.

I have seen that, when it comes to talking about serious issues like sex, body parts, etc. a lot of parents cringe at the slightest possibility of clarifying their little ones’ inquisitive minds at work. And frankly I didn’t want to be one such parent.

I remember reading in a book on parenting where it was advised that if parents adopted the practice of referring to body parts, especially the genital parts, as their actual terms, instead of substituting them with cute names like “wee-wee” or “mee-mee” when talking to their babies from early on, then it would go a long way in doing away with the stigma attached towards sex or such taboo subjects.

I quite liked that advice, to be honest.

The more you charade words with cute alternative names, the more you build a taboo around them, the more you mislead and confuse your children.

Whereas the partcular practice adviced in the book would help in building a great level of comfort, openness and honesty in the way children and their parents communicated with each other.

I feel that kids of today are exposed to things a bit more explicitly, than the kids of years gone by. So the least we, as parents of today, can do is encourage them to express their doubts or curiosities openly with us, so that they never get misled into drawing wrong conclusions and interpretations, right?

Games Our Children Play

Let me ask you something. If your child comes up to you and asks if he/she can play house-house or ghar-ghar with friends, you won’t think even for a fraction of a second before saying ‘yes’, will you? I know I won’t. In fact when I see Namnam pouring ‘tea’ into her little ‘tea-cups’ and serving it to her friends or when she puts on her gloves to take out ‘freshly-baked pizza’ from her ‘oven’ or simply rolls out a dough onto her chakla to make rotis, I go on a nostalgic trip of my own drawing similarities to my own childhood.

I remember for us kids ghar-ghar meant having a kitchen stocked with the usual saucepan, kadhai, glasses, plates, spoons,etc and each of us had a role to play. One of us would be the ‘husband’ who would have a newspaper in his hand while the ‘wife’ would bring tea, make two cups and start complaining to the ‘husband’ about how their children troubled her and didnt ‘study’. And the rest of us acted as ‘children’ either doing our homework or playing marbles or ‘gotiyaan’ as the game was known or just getting reprimanded by ‘our parents for our supposed ‘misdoings’ :D. And on days one of us had our barbie doll set, were the happiest of days. Because we could try out different dresses on her, deck her up and take chances singing lullabies to her and carrying her like a baby.

So today when I hear the term play-house or ghar-ghar, that’s image that conjures up in my mind. Namnam and her friends are combing their respective barbie’s hair, dressing her up, tucking her in bed and I smile and wish to myself that they would never grow out of this innocence.

Having said that, yesterday, when one of my relatives shared a disturbing incident that occured in the school where she teaches, it got me wondering if innocence was indeed at risk and somewhere the parents had a hand in it.

It happened in one of the school buses. A 4 year old kindergartener went up to her friend and asked him to join her in the backseat on the pretext of playing ghar-ghar. To say that I was shocked at hearing what she did next would be an understatement. She took the boy to the backseat, removed her underwear and
told him to lie on top of her. Luckily the conductor caught them just in time and reported them to their parents. The perplexed parents approached the school principal who in turn summoned the girl. And as it turned out, the girl revealed that this was a game which she and a couple of her friends in the class played regularly. Upon being asked from where she learned this game, she replied,’ mere mummy-papa khelte hai'(my mummy-papa play this game).

Now, I understand that children grasp things very fast, but if a 4year old girl asks a boy to lie on top of her then it clearly means that children grasp things much faster and much more than what they are meant to.

So how do we address this issue? Who do we blame here?

  • Do we blame these little children who dont even know what making love is or to put it more bluntly, having sex is? Do they even need to know?
  • Do we blame the TV shows, movies, advertisements, etc. for inflating their curiosity level?
  • Do we blame the living conditions in our country where so many families live in one-room flats giving zero privacy because of which many times children end up seeing things which they are not supposed to?
  • Or do we blame our regressive mentality where ‘SEX‘ is still a taboo subject and any inquisitive query from a child is treated with a snub or a shove?
  • Or is it time that we parents introspected? Will it help in safeguarding our little ones’ innocence if we, parents are a little more cautious and careful? Will it help if we parents are a little more encouraging towards discussing this subject more openly? So that if and when our little inquisitive-minds come up to us with any questions, we are ready and open enough with answers that are appropriate for their age?