I recently wrote about Gorgeous getting into trouble at school – as part of this post I wrote:
"I told him he should still not have been pulling the door or try and open it. I also told him if I ever heard about him being inside the toilet cubicle with another boy I would take a slipper to him (the first thing that the teacher mentioned when she spoke to us had been that two boys had been caught in a cubicle together and this freaked me out at the time). He looked at me as if I was crazy – “no way mum!!”)"
In response a reader commented as follows:
"In the article that brought me to your blog you said you were trying a form of parenting that didn't involve physical punishment and involved being open minded.
But here you tell your son that you'll hit him if he's in a stall with another boy.
I know Gorgeous is still a child, and I'm VERY likely being paranoid, but it sounds like you WOULD hit your child if it was possible he was homosexual?
Could I just have some context to that paragraph please, I just want to see how your parenting plan fits into making those kinds of ultimatums"
The interaction with Gorgeous was not based on a fear of homosexuality. It was based on my terror as a parent of abuse and inappropriately sexual behaviours, even in school and even amongst small children. The news media channels a continuous stream of stories about abuse; the latest research from the government indicates that the development of children is being impacted by an increasingly sexualised environment. Children are increasingly involved in sexting, viewing online pornography and it is suggested as a result increasingly sexualised behaviour.
I wrote some time ago that:
I’ve grown through my parenting years assailed with a steady stream of stories about child abuse and molestation and have witnessed the sexualisation of our society and of children in recent years. It absolutely terrifies me and has made me very protective of my children. A physical injury can heal with care, but how do you nurse your child through an injury to the soul? If someone harms a child and takes away their innocence in that way, can you ever take them to a safe place and return their childhood to them?
I don’t think the best way to deal with this is by burying your head in the sand but by setting clear boundaries. So I have discussed with my children in age appropriate ways that only mum can see them naked when I am giving them a bath etc, that they mustn’t allow anyone else to do so and that they must always tell me if someone has tried to touch them or make them feel uncomfortable. I have explained that they will never be in trouble but that I will make sure that they are safe.
So my reaction to Gorgeous on this occasion was due to fear for him. I freaked a little when the teacher had said that two boys had been in the toilet together and was utterly relieved when Gorgeous wasn't one of them (he was busy trying to break the door down from outside). My reaction may seem over the top, but my sister is a teacher of small children and has come across situations where the lines between play or mischief and inappropriate behaviour starts to seem blurred.
So although I threatened I would whack him with my slipper (which he has no fear of anyway) most likely in such a situation I would be scared, worried and fearful for him. I would want to hold him and reassure him and give him the space to be honest with me. I would much rather that we never find ourselves in that situation.