When teaching a crawling child their limits (where it’s safe to go, what’s safe to touch, what’s hot, what’s poison), a parent/caretaker must be able to stop them with their voice alone. Sometimes, you are too far to physically stop them. You must be able to say, ‘NO!’ and they stop dead in their tracks. A child who doesn’t know their limit will touch a live wire, pick up a snake, tip a cup full of hot porridge. That is a child that will get hurt, badly. Or worse.
Many years ago (my nephew is about 11 years old now), he crawled into the kitchen and used the hot oven to support himself while he tried to stand. It took us about 5 days of ointment and TLC (Tender Loving Care) to heal the blisters from his hand. He didn’t know his limit. We hadn’t taught him.
Keyo doesn’t crawl into my kitchen. I generally don’t like babies in the kitchen, even when there’s nothing happening, but he has learned through constant teaching not to venture into the kitchen.
So, the other day, Keyo was crawling about my house. I tend to follow him around when I’m by myself. He’s allowed to go everywhere with supervision (let a child prosper right?). We were in the living room with Martin and Kendi. Keyo went to touch the wires under the TV console and of course put something in his mouth. I said sharply, ‘No, Keyo’ and smartly tapped his hand with two of my fingers. He was so shocked, he started to cry. Martin said, ‘oh poor thing. You’ve scared him. You know he’ll be climbing and touching everything. Boys are different from girls’.
‘Yes they are. How does that stop me from teaching him?’
‘Oh I see’ he replied. I could tell he hadn’t considered that.
My biggest pet peeve is the way parents don’t teach boys:
- To be kind
- To share
- To be polite
- Not to stare
- To lose graciously
- To sit properly (before you protest, 3 year old girls in pants are told to sit properly)
- To eat properly
- To not pee in public (what is this actually please?!)
- To not hit others (if I could count the number of women I have witnessed laughing as their son hits them continuously, I would be a millionaire. I told one in church, ‘one day that boy is going to be a man, much bigger than you, don’t let him hit you’. She looked at me in shock)
- To not touch their genitals in public (what you do in private, I myself don’t care)
- To not show their genitals to others (an acquaintance found her son and her neighbor’s daughter ‘discovering’ each other’s genitals. They were about 4 years old. She pulled the neighbors child aside and taught her to keep her private parts, private. She didn’t say anything to her son. I am still rolling my eyes, as I write this. I asked her why she denied her son the lesson. There was actually no answer. People just don’t think to teach boys)
- To cooperate and not compete (before you say anything, girls are just as competitive as boys, we just teach them that there’s a time and place for everything. Competition is for actual competition, cooperation is for the rest of life)
- To not rape girls! (because honestly, there is nothing any girl can do to ‘prevent’ getting raped by their boyfriend, a stranger, their father, their teacher, their husband, their cousin. Everyone just stop and read that last sentence again)