Yesterday I learned a big lesson in boundaries...We went to an absolutely stunning temple called Tanah Lot. It's build on a rock just off shore and we were lucky enough to arrive when the water was low enough that we could walk over.
When we went to the water palace two weeks ago we had two groups of people asking if they could take pictures with us and our children. Yesterday it was more, much more, almost to a point where we couldn't make one step without being photographed, even in the shops we went into.
The place was packed with people and so many of them would start taking pictures of and with our children, shoving their children over to take pictures of them together and so on. Then mainly women started grabbing my children or asking for a picture together and when I said yes they would try to "position" my children, trying to grab them by the arm or touching their faces, trying to lift them up. I don't know how many times I had to say: "I'm fine with you taking a picture, but DON'T TOUCH MY CHILDREN!"
At some point Lucan, my older one, was hiding after some guy asked him to take a picture with him and he didn't want to.
Bali is a training ground for many areas, we're just starting this journey of making long term travel a part of it and we are learning along the way. But one of them is that in case me or Dennis(or both of us) ever get that famous that people recognize us wherever we go we need to find clear, strong boundaries around photographing us and our children. One of them will be don't ever touch my children without their (and my) consent!
Now I know, this is a very different culture than the one we are used to. But it's my role as mum to protect my children and teach them about consent and so they will always have a choice when it comes to other people touching them, no matter where we are in the world. That includes me and my husband.
If they don't want to kiss or hug me good night or goodbye that's fine, their choice. And I expect their grandparents and any other people in our life to respect their choices too. I want them to feel comfortable saying "No" without the need to over explain themselves...or to please others. Having this experience, which was very intense as the people here have a very different understanding of what is okay and what is not, just made it more clear to me that my children can only understand consent if they have full control over their body themselves. Will I upset people who think they are entitled to affection from my children? I already have. Will I rub people the wrong way who don't think and just touch, because it's how it always has been? I already have. And I'm okay with that. Teaching about consent and body autonomy from an early age on makes clear when these boundaries are crossed. And me standing up for my children, drawing the boundary teaches them in an even more powerful way than just talking about it. Sending you Love&Light, Annika x