Holiday guide to keeping Uncle Rays’ hands off your lil’ girl…
As a young girl, I used to dread the annual proverbial gift exchange at Grandma’s house during the holidays. Why? Because it meant that Uncle Ray was there to greet me with the uncomfortable hug, wet slobbery kisses, traveling hands to my chest and buttocks area, and awkwardly long glances from him as ‘a salivating wolf’ ready to pounce on his prey. It didn’t matter to my divorced Mom, as she probably wasn’t even aware; this was the time she could reconnect with her family, go shopping with her sisters & dump us kids off with cousins we pretended to like; we were there to celebrate Christmas!!!
Here’s a quick guide to reference BEFORE, DURING & AFTER the holidays with your extended family…
- GREETINGS & SALUTATIONS: Some cultures make their kids give hugs & kisses to other adults; it’s a way to show honor & respect to elders. Even if the mother knows or suspects that Uncle Ray is a pervert; she may still send off Lil’ Nancy to sit on Uncle Ray’s lap. If possible, give your child a paper clip that’s opened on one side so she can subtly jab that end into Uncle Ray’s arm or lap if the ‘greeting or goodbye’ lasts too long.
- HUGS & AFFECTION: Keep an eye on your child whenever a distant or too familiar older cousin or Uncle Ray hugs your kid too long. Be right there, almost tethered to your kid. You might even say that little Nancy isn’t feeling all that great after the long car OR airplane ride; she might be coming down with something so it’s best NOT to hug her at all! It’s been my family’s tradition to hug after the presents were opened; so as to thank each ‘giver’ this even meant that Uncle Ray got a hug. Geez, his eyes were dazzling as I approached him to show our appreciation. Yuck!
- UNLOADING & UNPACKING: As you are unloading presents, unpacking suitcases, ask your child to help you but to stay continually by your side. You can tell them that you are checking to see how much they have grown since last year’s Holiday visit to Uncle Ray’s house by measuring their steps/gait along side of yours. You can even make a game out of it. The first one to step on the “cement crack” gets to carry an extra present inside or unload the groceries, so as to deter the child from running ahead of you when your arms are overloaded.
- SHOWERS & BATHS: When your child is bathing, YOU are the only one to be in the bathroom. Make sure there are enough towels for everyone, bring your own towel from home if need be. Why? I’ve actually seen Uncle Ray go into the bathroom to drop off a towel for his own kids and linger in there.
- SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS: If you don’t rent a hotel room then sleep on an air mattress in the exact room that all the kids are sleeping in. You can tell them it’s to ensure that if there’s an emergency; you want to have immediate access to help all involved. Don’t ever let your kid spend the night at another cousins, aunt/uncle, and step-grandparents house without you there. If your child is asked to do a sleep over, then say ‘it will be fun for ALL of us” to spend the night at a new location. Pack up the air mattress & voila; you can all have a new adventure, but don’t send your kid alone (even if they are FAMILY). Incest has been, is & forever will be around for generations. Don’t sacrifice your kid just to stay in good graces with your extended family.
- CHAPERONE: Chaperone to all outside events; Movie Theater with cousins, bowling, a game of flag football, skating, etc. Tell your kids that you are the official family historian & that you will be taking pictures, video and blogging about your ancestry research & to give to families for generations to come.
- ERRANDS: Don’t allow your child to “run to get some milk” with Uncle Ray. If your kid says they are going to the store, market, mall with Uncle Ray, tell your child that they are needed where you are. Tell your kid that you want them to be able to earn some extra holiday money for the ‘after Xmas’ sales. You are really paying them to stay near you; so give them $1 or $.25 for made-up chores you have for them. Tell your child that you will ALL go to the mall together.
- AFTER THE GIFTS ARE OPENED: When trying out new remote controlled toys & video games, don’t allow Uncle Ray to ‘ASSIST’ the kids with operating their new fangled contraptions. YOU be the one to go outside to watch how fast the new go-kart speeds down the road or YOU be the one to go down to the basement to watch the new video game.
Pay attention to your holiday environment. Just because the smell of cinnamon cider, hot steamed tamales, spiked eggnog and family dinners recalls fond memories for YOU, doesn’t mean that your child carries that same familial fondness. Safeguard your child from the “Uncle Ray’s” of the universe and oh by the way, Happy Holidays!
© by e.h. miller