Let me just preface this with a little tid-bit about me. I HATE BEING TICKLED. Hate it. It enrages me. I don't laugh. Ever. I kick, hit, yell, grit my teeth, whatever, to make it stop. In addition, I have a very personal bubble of space and with the exception of some close friends and family, I don't like for it to be invaded.
My mini-me is the same way, which is why I can relate to her so much in the following circumstance....
A few days back Chloe got off the bus at the tire shop. A tire shop is no easy place for a little girl (or a big one, ha!) It's full of men, and one thing men love to do is give little girls a hard time. She is used to being teased lovingly from time-to-time, and there are certain guys she sees every day who give her a high-five or ask her about school.
But the other day there was a guy in here who chased her a little bit, teasing that he was going to tickle her. We were about to leave, anyway, and she managed to dodge him. But I could tell she was uncomfortable. When we left, she told me that she didn't like that guy "boddering" her. I told her I didn't blame her, and that she NEVER has to let ANYONE "bodder" her if it makes her uncomfortable.
The mama bear was coming out in me. It's not that I think this guy is a bad guy or has bad intentions AT ALL, but the best of intentions doesn't excuse the behavior. If a child feels uncomfortable, you give her space. I don't understand why people think because a person is small it makes it ok to grab them, hug them, or pick them up.
The next day he was at it again, and this time she ran from him, screaming, and hid. And I just stood there, torn. I was NOT going to coax her and tell her it was fine, or tell her not to run away. I think that reaction is good, and she needs that in case she is ever in a situation when I am not there. The guys all looked at me, kinda like I needed to control her, but I just walked away. He assured her that he would NEVER hurt her, not to be scared, but that he LOVES to tickle little kids. He has nieces and nephews he tickles ALL the time. While that would make some feel more at ease, I think it made him even scarier to Chlo.
That night we talked about what was appropriate. Anything that makes her uncomfortable: inappropriate. Any time a grown man (who isn't a close family member) wants to touch or tickle or grab at her, even if she ISN'T uncomfortable: inappropriate.
The next day came, and I figured by this time he would have got the hint. But when she got off the bus, there he was, threatening to catch her and tickle her. This time she ran, screaming, across the parking lot out to my father-in-law's car, where she tried to get in the back seat to no avail.
I called her over, and shielded her as I took her into the office, where she hid under my desk until he left.
And I finally realized this is a problem.
But what do I do?
This isn't the big city. I can't say something like, "No offense, but my daughter feels uncomfortable when you theraten to tickle her, and I'd appreciate it if you could respect her personal space enough to not do that." He's a customer. A good acquaintance of the Mister's family. Nothing I say is going to sound anything short of calling him a child-molester to this small-minded community.
But I also feel compelled to speak up and protect my daughter, even though she's doing a great job on her own. And if it doesn't stop soon, I'll end up snapping, and what comes out may be far worse and more damaging than the PC statement above.
But if I keep failing to SHOW her I will end it, maybe she won't trust me to handle things in the future (God forbid there ever BE a situation). What if she thinks, "Well I handled the Tickle Monster with no help from Mom, so maybe I should just try to handle Mr. Molester myself." It's sickening to even think about, but as the mother of a little girl, it's something I ALWAYS have in the back of my mind.
Being a mom is tough.