Elli: “______ (insert a boy’s name here) and I are going to do something secret on the playground tomorrow”, she said with a funny grin on her face.
Seriously people, I could hear sirens and whistles go off, then lights started flashing in my peripheral vision and I wanted to jump out of my chair and dramatically knock it over onto the floor and grab her by the shoulders and play an intense scene from Parenthood or something like that where I begged her not to do this so that she would not ruin her life FOREVER!!!
Instead I calmly took a deep breath and nonchalantly asked an exploratory question while trying to peek at Dan out of the corner of my eye to see what his reaction to all of this was.
We started trying to figure out where this plan came from and why and what exactly this secret plan entailed. She picked up on the fact that something was amiss and kind of clammed up and started acting like she had never said anything and started playing everything down while trying to move on and shift the conversation elsewhere.
Finally I had to play a card and flat out said, “Elli, I’m just trying to figure out exactly what you’re planning to do because it sounded like you were planning to do something you are not allowed to do. It sounded like maybe you were planning to smooch and you are NOT allowed to do that yet. <insert intense mommy gaze where I look everyone straight in the eye and say> None of you are.”
Elli sincerely apologized for making the plan once we got things all figured out and we were returning to our regularly scheduled dinner when Liam muttered something under his breath about kissing, which elicited a STRONG reaction from the recently chagrined sister. “I would never kiss a boy!”, she shrieked. To which big brother replied, “Well that’s what smooching IS, what did you think we were talking about?”
SO the entire time we were digging into this delicate matter, then instructing and discussing the fact that Elli was not to smooch on the playground or anywhere else for that matter, and that none of the kids were old enough to smooch, and that they each needed our permission for that kind of behavior but didn’t need to worry about it yet because it’s not something you do until you’re older etc, she had NO IDEA what we were talking about! In fact, when we asked her what she thought smooching was, she thought it was just going off somewhere with a friend and playing on the playground. *sigh*
Sometimes I forget just how innocent my kids are. I know they are bombarded with “worldly” influences, but for some reason they just seem to be immune to them.
In an earlier dinner conversation while Dan was gone we had a very informal discussion about swear words (after I heard a 4 year old drop a GD at the bus stop). I thanked my kids for never repeating bad words that I’m sure they heard all the time, and they said, “yeah, we don’t say the “D” word or the “S” word.” I feigned innocence and said, “what is the “D” and the “S” word?” Liam said, “you know, the one that starts with “D” and ends with “B” (dumb)” and Addi chimed in that the “S” word rhymed with moopid (stupid).
I made sure not to LOL, but inside I sighed and thanked God at their innocence. Then I panicked and was afraid they were living in too much of a bubble and might get taken advantage of, then, I had to just trust that God was in control and that we were doing the best we could and doing things right and that if they’re in public school and think “dumb” and “stupid” are swear words that we must be doing OK so far.
At the same time, I learned a very valuable lesson about being frank. About being sure I am talking to the kids and not over their heads. About how easy it is to not be on the same page, and how important it is for me to listen and not just do all the talking. To pause and elicit feedback to make sure we are tracking.
I was afraid to talk about kissing straight up, especially in front of the 4 and 5 year olds, hence why I decided to use the word “smooch” instead hoping that the two older kids would pick up what I was laying down and the younger two would continue to be engrossed in their Jell-O rather than our conversation. I guess I need to just be brave and talk bout what I’m trying to talk about rather than dancing around the issue. I felt like we had a FANTASTIC family talk about dating and relationships and appropriateness etc, but the entire time at least one member of the conversation thought we were talking about play proximity on a playground, not physical purity and age appropriate social and physical behavior.
So the moral of the story is, never assume anything. Just be straightforward. Use the correct terms for things. Make sure you and your kids are talking about the same thing. Stop and ask what they think a term means before you launch into an amazing spiel about something. I guess I’ll chalk this one up as a great practice run at the dating/kissing speech.