By fiifi DZANSI
A woman boards a bus with a baby strap to her back and pulls her six-year-old boy along.
She sits, unwraps her baby from the cloth behind and places her on her lap.
The boy doesn’t have a seat. He has to stand in front of his mom.
A stranger offers to make the boy sit on his lap.
Kids of that age are unofficially not allowed to have their own seats on a bus. They either sit on someone’s lap or stand through the journey.
It’s become our culture. Don’t ask me where it came from.
We feel kids under six or so should not take a seat. It’s free when they stand or sit on someone’s lap. They are too small to occupy a space. They don’t deserve it. Seats are reserved for adults only.
This practice hurts children both physically and emotionally.
The stranger offering their lap as seat may be a psycho who could take advantage of the situation to touch your kid inappropriately. And that could result in more grievous acts. At such a tender age, many kids wouldn’t understand such lewd behaviour.
It may haunt them in their adulthood.
I once heard a story of a man. He continually violated a girl who used to sit on his lap on a bus.
A stranger may be carrying a contagious disease such as TB, Sarcoptic mange, Leprosy, COVID etc. and transfer it to your kid. This, in turn, would spread through your family. Pray it has a cure, though. Otherwise, it may be an illness your kid has to manage for the rest of their life.
Other times too, some parents allow strangers on a bus to feed their kids. It’s unhealthy.
Parenting doesn’t come cheap. I know. Paying your kid’s transportation is can be expensive, especially if you have more kids. But it comes with the whole package. Your responsibility as a parent includes protecting your young ones from predators.
Children deserve to have a seat on a bus. It’s dignifying and civil. They’re not just a bunch of load you haul along, but humans whose futures are in the making.
Also, when you allow your kid to take a seat, you’re training them to learn independence – that they don’t have to depend on others all the time. It’s a sign they’re no longer babies.
Children are the most vulnerable in society. Easy targets for the bad guys. So as a parent, you need to teach them not to trust strangers and scream bloody murder when someone touches certain parts of their body.
I’m not being paranoid. This is a real issue you must not brush aside.
Buses are more economical, and not every parent can afford ride-hailing services or taxis.
If you don’t own a car, transportation fare has to be part of your family budget.