How my mother saved me from one incident of molestation


so today I read a sad story about a 13-year-old who was molested by a vice principal at a her school and the sad events that followed. I couldn’t help but think of my own daughter who is 14 and whether she would be comfortable enough to talk to me about any such experiences. I sometimes wonder, like many parents if we have done enough to protect her or if ever it is possible to protect her.

I was reminded of my own experience from about 20 years ago. I am a Trust school kid, and at the time was in Grade three. I was one of those students who didn’t do her homework and didn’t finish her work in class but still managed to come 12th out of 24 students on the grade ladder. Eventually I think my teacher and my headmistress tired of my attitude and notified my parents. Mum straightened me out on the homework front, but my speed when carrying out tasks was none-existen … still isn’t great. One afternoon, another student and I didn’t finish taking down notes and we were asked by our teacher to go back and finish them (we could go home and eat lunch and then go back  to school). I went  home and because I lived 30 minutes out-of-town, by the time dad dropped me off at the school my classmate had already left.

I went into the class and started taking down notes and a janitor came in to clean the class. At some point he was  standing close to me, and though I can’t remember the conversation, I felt uncomfortable. He reached to touch my face and I pulled away. He kept reaching and I was going to fall off the chair when I blurted out “I’m going to tell my mum”. He left me alone and I stayed clear of him every time I saw him in school. Of course I didn’t tell anyone about it but the reason I have blurted out that I would tell my mum was that I had remembered my mum saying that if anyone touched us in a way we didn’t like (not her exact words) that we should tell her.

I moved to the upper trust school the following year and sometime later, the same Janitor was with another janitor (one who was nice to students) and he tried to join a conversation that the nice janitor was having with me and my sister. I pointed out that I didn’t like him and that I hadn’t forgotten what he had done. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about and I insisted he did and he walked away. His collegue looked puzzled and hezitated before continuing the conversation.

Just that one experience has informed my parenting in an attempt to protect my daughter, but I don’t know if it is effective or not. I started telling her about inappropriate touch from about 2 and a half and tried to make it  clear that if anyone touched her in a way that made her feel bad, she should tell me. Why those words? because most sexual abuse victims will tell you that they felt something was wrong or they felt bad or ashamed and the language needs to make sense to the child. As she’s grown older, my language has also changed and sometimes I simply give her scenarios and ask for her responses. By no means do I think it’s fool-proof, but our options are  limited. We can’t go everywhere with our children but we can give them tools to protect themselves. Even with those tools, their courage may fail, or things might still happen for whatever reason. In such cases, remember to not place blame on the child, and to show them they are loved. And always remember to pray, because where we don’t go, God still goes, and in the end, His ways are higher and His healing hands always able to bind what the enemy destroys.

As for this child, I pray that she  finds peace and that she remembers her worth and beauty and the courage to live life to it’s fullest.

 

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Birthdays


There’s nothing that makes me feel older than other peoples birthdays…My younger siblings more than anyone else. Though one that shocks me a lot is my daughter’s. There are four birthdays from the 23rd to the 30th of November. The 23rd happens to be my big mum’s birthday. She is a precious woman in whose house I spent many of my childhood days. Growing up, I always new she was my mum’s sister and was probably in my teens before I fully understood that she was actually my mother’s best friend. Seems dumb I know but I think it explains the kind of relationship that we have with their family. There were times when my parents couldn’t pick us up till late and we spent the night. We spent holidays there, shared in birthdays and hand me downs went between the two houses. I miss sitting pa mpasa after school and talking with her and gleaning from a life lived well. She has been a source of wisdom and when I had a child out of wedlock, she loved me all the more; she defended me. She reminded me I was worth so much and that I could achieve anything.

She loved my child before she was born and the day I went into hospital, all mum had to do was call her and her and her eldest daughter (my sister) were there when we got to the clinic, and she stayed until they had no choice but to go home; same time mum left, and she was back the day after and the day after that. She was there when I was struggling with intense feelings of sadness, when I couldn’t understand why God would let my life go the way it had. Even today, all I have to do is call or text and her wisdom always leaves me feeling at peace. I have always been safe with her and I love her beyond words. Celebrating her birthday leaves me feeling blessed.

baby bro
baby bro

Then there’s the birthdays, other than my daughter’s that make me feel old. Younger siblings! Bwalya, Ndeke and Dalitso; their birthdays are on the 24th, 28th and 30th respectively and they turned 18, 17 and 21. I feel old because I’ve seen all three in Diapers and carried them on my back…

I don’t think I ever carried Mr D but still, he’s my baby brother and even though he now thinks it’s inappropriate for me to say so, he will always be that and that image will never go away. Maybe one day I will manage to get him reading.

I will always love you and Someone like you Karaoke in three generations. Ndeke, Me, Mum and my daughter!
“I will always love you” and “Someone like you” Karaoke in three generations. Ndeke, Me, “small” Mum and my daughter!

Bwalya and Ndeke are just two of the bravest girls I know. Both have faced so much and are still standing. You guys inspire me and I know I can be very mean and love to tease and portray a very harsh no nonsense face but I love you guys and I am inspired by you. Bwalya as SandyI can’t wait to see you guys in the next few years. I can’t believe how big you are and for me the hard thing is to let you be grown because I will always see you as my babies in need of protecting. God will take you places and I know that people will be blessed because of you!