nous protégeons ceux qui ne peuvent pas se protéger eux-mêmes. (wp)
“Medea”, 1868, William Wetmore Story.
I could find no trace of the old yellow cabins, nor even locate the site. Things disappear, too, utterly.
Wells, England (by childishToy*)
A friend and I were out with our kids when another family’s two-year-old came up. She began hugging my friend’s 18-month-old, following her around and smiling at her. My friend’s little girl looked like she wasn’t so sure she liked this, and at that moment the other little girl’s mom came up and got down on her little girl’s level to talk to her.
“Honey, can you listen to me for a moment? I’m glad you’ve found a new friend, but you need to make sure to look at her face to see if she likes it when you hug her. And if she doesn’t like it, you need to give her space. Okay?”
Two years old, and already her mother was teaching her about consent.
My daughter Sally likes to color on herself with markers. I tell her it’s her body, so it’s her choice. Sometimes she writes her name, sometimes she draws flowers or patterns. The other day I heard her talking to her brother, a marker in her hand.
“Bobby, do you mind if I color on your leg?”
Bobby smiled and moved himself closer to his sister. She began drawing a pattern on his leg with a marker while he watched, fascinated. Later, she began coloring on the sole of his foot. After each stoke, he pulled his foot back, laughing. I looked over to see what was causing the commotion, and Sally turned to me.
“He doesn’t mind if I do this,” she explained, “he is only moving his foot because it tickles. He thinks its funny.” And she was right. Already Bobby had extended his foot to her again, smiling as he did so.
What I find really fascinating about these two anecdotes is that they both deal with the consent of children not yet old enough to communicate verbally. In both stories, the older child must read the consent of the younger child through nonverbal cues. And even then, consent is not this ambiguous thing that is difficult to understand.
Teaching consent is ongoing, but it starts when children are very young. It involves both teaching children to pay attention to and respect others’ consent (or lack thereof) and teaching children that they should expect their own bodies and their own space to be respected—even by their parents and other relatives.
And if children of two or four can be expected to read the nonverbal cues and expressions of children not yet old enough to talk in order to assess whether there is consent, what excuse do full grown adults have?
I try to do this every day I go to nursery and gosh it makes me so happy to see it done elsewhere.
Yes, consent is nonsexual, too!
Not only that, but one of the reasons many child victims of sexual abuse don’t reach out is that they don’t have the understanding or words for what is happening to them, and why it isn’t okay. Teaching kids about consent helps them build better relationships and gives them the tools to seek help if they or a friend need our protection.
Sculptures by Livio Scarpella
Did you know the first Sweet 100s
are turning red in the garden,
but the lettuce has grown
too bitter to eat. I am looking
up at the bluest sky I have ever seen,
cerulean blue, a heaven sky
no one would believe I was under.
You are my witness. No day
is promised. You are absolution…
Mosaic of St. Uriel by James Powell and Sons, at St John’s Church, Boreham, Wiltshire, 1888.
my burning heart
Jesus it’s beautiful!
Great mother of big apples it is a pretty
You’re a bastard Mr. Death
And I wish you didn’t have no look-in here.
I don’t know how the rest of you feel,
But I feel drunk all the time
And I wish to hell we didn’t have to die.
O you’re a merry bastard Mr. Death
And I wish you didn’t have no hand in this game
Because it’s too damn beautiful for anybody to die.
By Kenneth Patchen.