When we first arrived here we joked that one word/action we would easily learn is "pinch". The reason being that this is a common thing for people to do, especially to our fair skinned children. You know what I mean, that typical Grandma "oh you are so cute" type pinch. Where they get a little skin but really no harm done. Of course our two year old is not typically fond of these type things at all (a little too close for comfort) but overall a fine thing. Not tonight...
As we stood waiting for Dad to pull the motorbike out of the tightly packed little lot (which usually requires moving a few bikes here and there to get yours out) the kids and I stood just outside the entrance to one of our favorite restaurants. As we stood there in the dark a little girl about 6-8 years old walked up to us and very sweetly said Hi to the kids. She walked over to S and stood really close. I kind of though she might pinch her cheek but honestly didn't think anything of it because it happens all the time. Also I figured S would react if she did something to her. The little girl quickly walked from S to H and stood close to him. He however was NOT happy with her. He yelled no at her and pushed her away and immediately burst into tears. At this she ran to the other side of the road. I then realized that S was standing there with tears streaming down her face and she was holding her arm. The little girl had pinched them both....and this was no granny pinch. I couldn't even look at the little girl I was so confused, angry, and hurting for my kids. Daddy was done by this point and ran over to find out what was going on. Typically he would say something or talk to the parents or something...but right now it was clear that wasn't going to do anything. Not only was there a language barrier there was a major cultural barrier that had been crossed. Fighting the urge to go across the road he stood there are glared at her. To which she responded in her language "don't worry about it...its ok". All that was within me was saying NO ITS NOT OK. My kids have welts on their body because you just walked up and pinched them and you don't see anything wrong with it. But there was a little something in the back of my mind saying, "She doesn't know anything different. This is what she has been taught. This is normal to her."
We drove the short ride home both kids still in tears. We sat them on our laps and hugged them close. They both definitely have little welts and even bruises :( Holding them close it was a good opportunity to remind them that mommy and daddy can't always protect them. Even if we are standing right there we can't always see what is going on or feel how hard someone is hurting you. We talked about how they have to take responsibility to look someone in the eyes and tell them NO! If you don't like how someone is touching you or treating you then you have to let them know and make sure they know you are serious. We even talked about the words they would use in this new language. For the last hour or so we have been practicing with them...but it is so hard for them to role play how it would really be.
I can honestly say that I am thankful for this overall experience and the reminder it is to help our kids know how to protect themselves. Although it breaks my heart that this little girl would hurt my kids for no reason...just because she thought she could get away with it. I know it was a good way to talk about these important things with our kids. They are young but they can learn to say no to people when they are not comfortable with what they are doing or saying. We love our kids and want to protect them...and sometimes that means giving the to right tools so they can protect themselves. Praying that next time this will have different results with less tears and no welts!