Children learn the meaning of the words “yes” and “no” and understand when and how to use them according to their will. But children are also taught by a person of authority, their parents and adults who are in their close circle established by the parents and society.
At a certain point, children learn how to verbalise their agreement or disagreement. When a child disagrees with a touch orchestrated by adults who think that they are in charge just because they’re adults, it needs 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 children when an adult overrides and ignores their 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 children say, they don’t have any control or power. They are not heard. Adults may do anything. Just because someone is an adult doesn’t guarantee that their behaviour is a decent one or should be tolerated based on the mere fact of their age. Age, per se, doesn’t mean anything.
Wisdom, lessons learned, living 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 discontent 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. 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)