A small child has no understanding of sex. It’s unthinkable that the activity could be “bad” when the perpetrator is a trusted authority. The child is in no position to “agree” to sex, not having the life experience to make such a judgment.
For me, the big people were my dignified old grandfather whom everyone respected and my heroic father returning home in his soldier’s uniform from the army. I was brought up to obey adults. I also knew not to tell anyone what I did with these big men.
Life was very confusing. One summer day my friend Robby and I were busy with our three year old explorations in a neighbour’s back yard. We found a collection of empty flower pots.
Robby pulled down his tartan shorts and showed me how he could pee into the flower pots standing up. I was amazed. Looking at his fleshy equipment I couldn’t have been more delighted if he’d shown me a newborn puppy. I squatted over the flower pot and took my turn.
When it was time to go home, my mother greeted me with anger.
“You’re a very bad, nasty girl,” she snapped.
“I didn’t do anything,” I managed to mutter, having no idea what my sin had been.
Never looking me in the eye, she whipped me around so that my back was to her full length mirror. My skirt was caught up in my underpants. Oh, I remembered, the flower pots. Somehow that meant I was bad.
I don’t know whether I ever cleared my head enough to wonder why playing with Robby was so bad but what my father and grandfather did was okay. It was all too confusing to even think about.