There are memories I hate to remember. Bad memories. Fortunately or unfortunately, those are the ones I remember. Most of my family members can remember tiny little details from the past but I hardly remember most. What I do remember more than most are the memories that were made behind closed doors. Those memories that were bad and you know were bad even as a six-year-old. Back in the day, it was called bad manners. Maybe you know what I am talking about. If you are Kenyan, you totally do.
We would watch those raunchy scenes on TV where they did not reveal exactly what was happening (unlike today) then we would re-enact them with the kid next door. Or at least what you thought was happening. You would hold on to that boy and do something that would pass as a kiss and weird touching, like you saw on TV, but fully clothed. Then hope you did not get caught. Of course it was not sexual intercourse. We had no idea what that was. And as little as I was, I knew it was wrong. If it wasn’t we would definitely not hide in the store. And yes we were caught and reprimanded by my mum. I remember I peed in my clothing that day as she went on and on about how wrong what we were trying out was. She did not, however, punish me in any way.
Funny enough, it used to happen all the time, even in school. You would hear whispers of so and so being caught ‘doing bad manners’. Then we grew older and wiser and those things were forgotten. But not really. Every once in a while, some random person will remind you. I hate it. Sometimes I wonder why we did it.
Is it perhaps because it was a no-go topic? Is it perhaps because we were very curious to find out what our parents did not think we were trying to explore that early? Do kids do these things today? Can it be avoided? Do kids just want to do what they see adults do? Just like cha mama na baba. I am pretty sure not every child tried to do any form of these silly explorations.
I know for sure that my mum learnt a thing or two from this firstborn and proceeded to always sensitize my siblings after me against it. I also know that I would have turned into a very wayward girl if it were not for my mum. Mum gave me all the information that most parents shy away from right on. In fact, at some point, I remember telling some girls what periods were in class three. In whispers. Because speaking about such things in school was taboo. It would spark ‘a case’ where you’d be paraded in front of the whole school and caned for speaking about bad things.
A bit later on in upper primary, there were more ‘cases’ that make neither head nor tail in retrospective. Most were about kids coupling in theory. Some keyholders that had Jack and Rose pictures were actually banned in the school. Lol. Others were about drawings in the urinal. You know what I am talking about, don’t you?
You see, sexuality is a topic you can never avoid. You cannot afford to pretend that a child has no private parts and expect them not to find out soon from someone else. Kwanza I have a problem with the way they are not even shown in those ‘Parts of the Body’ topics in books and charts. You know that child knows there’s something we are all trying to hide from that point on. I know it would be weird to point them out, right? Why is that? Probably because they are private, Shiku.
Even if you do not tell the child the big name for her vagina or penis, whatever you choose to call it, tell her that no one should touch it. (You should, however, call it what it is. I was taught to call these parts ridiculous names back in the day. Funny names.) Tell him all the time when you give him a bath. And later when she is a bit older, tell her what it is really called and why it’s private. And why it should be private till she is old enough (and married in my book). This will prevent friends from talking him into touching. Or even worse messed up grownups like that househelp who infected a kid with STIs. Lord!
I am not one to shy away from this topic because I know better. Even if I hate the memories, I need to talk about it. Innocent and harmless as they were, some kids were not as lucky. They went through real sexual abuse from grownups and still labelled it as bad manners, never to tell anyone till later in life. The stories on newspapers are evidence. There’s nothing to hide. I am not a parent yet but I have first-hand observer experience on how to handle it. Approach with care but do not pretend sexual curiosity does not exist in the young. Answer them when they ask or someone else will.
(By the way, my WordPress had ‘refused’ to publish this post until Sasahost helped me out. I guess it was wondering what’s gotten into me. 😀 )