A child learns the meaning of the words “yes” and “no” and understands when and how to use them according to his/her will. But the child is also taught by a person of authority, his/her parents and adults who are in his/her close circle established by the parents and society.
At a certain point, the child learns how to verbalise his/her agreement or disagreement. When a child disagrees with a touch orchestrated by an adult who thinks that he/she are in charge just because they’re adults, it is to be respected, it is, after all, the child’s body, and “no” means “no”, no matter how old or young the individual is.
And what does it teach a child when an adult overrides and ignores his/her speech and expressed wish? That words are void, that “yes” can mean “no” and vice versa, chaos, a disruptive, dysfunctional and dishonest language. That, no matter what the child says, he/she doesn’t have any control or power. They are not heard. Adults may do everything. Just because someone is an adult doesn’t guarantee that his/her behaviour is a decent one or should be tolerated based on the mere fact of his/her age, that doesn’t mean anything.
Wisdom, lessons learned, lived by example, progress, those concepts matter, personal development, how adults deal with children says and shows everything. In the village where I spent years of my life, there was a woman. She was foolish, narrow-minded, badmouthing everyone, everything was her business and she was depreciative of everything, that little village was her life. Fair enough. But she would touch my face and my sister’s face even when we pulled it away, or showed obvious disontent at her hands being in our faces. We are body-intelligent beings, we communicate without using words, everybody does it all the time, that’s a fact that cannot be undermined. Everybody has a basic awareness whether physical contact with another person works or not. Energy is palpable. It’s not some abstract voodoo. Energy is an expression, it’s the truth, it matters and should be acknowledged and everybody is receptible to it.
So this woman, since we were kids, shoved her nose in everybody’s business and her infiltration didn’t stop there, she would do the same thing physically. If you see that a child is not happy with the contact that you initiate, stop it. Otherwise you build the groundwork for a lifelong confusion, and saying and meaning “yes” or “no” should be simple and straightforward, now, if that is already messed-up, where are we going from here? Miscommunication. To say the very least.
This woman still treated us like children, because she had established that power structure where she as an adult could override our language, and thus we would never be able to get out of that binary opposition that she created. We were children that she could touch without our consent, squeeze our cheeks ignoring our wrinkled noses, clasp our facial skin between her fingers despite our narrowing eyes. Everybody can read faces, expressions, even if this understanding happens on a subconscious level: everybody has the ability, we are very observant, but we make choices. And this woman chose to ignore our body language, instead she would forever cling to her reductive idea that she had every right and we had none.
I had to rebuild my language, my images, my meanings from scratch and it takes every single day, because all these teachings are rooted in your body and it is important to unlearn things that are not in alignment with yourself and make you a people-pleaser and a yes-sayer when you want to say “no”, and a no-sayer when you want to say “yes”.
“Head of a girl” by George Clausen (1852-1944)