Unexpected conversations, or sometimes lectures, are par for the course when there are kids. Not sure how it is with girls, having three boys myself, but let me tell you they are truly enlightening. Most of the time, they sound something like this:
- “Put your penis back in your pants.”
- “No! You can’t do that with your penis.”
- “No! You can’t pee on the (fill in the blank).”
I think you’re starting to get the picture. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of meaningful conversations as well, usually started with the three-year-old asking a lot of why based questions. They learn something that they hadn’t understood before, and I do as well, since sometimes Mommy doesn’t know all, but Google does.
There are some conversations, however, that I assumed would wait until my children are older; much older. At least ten years older than they are now. I may have been naive in my thinking, but I do not understand how most kids in today’s world come across situations that I didn’t until I was much older. I was sorely unprepared for the fact that information is so easily obtained in our world now, exposing our kids to all of it.
In an effort to make well-rounded kids, my husband and I have put effort into signing them up for various activities so that they may let us know what they like the most. We’ve tried soccer, t-ball, karate, swimming, and now the two oldest are in two separate dancing type classes. The middle is in a Kid Rock course and the oldest in a Tap and Hip Hop class. They love it!
Monday night rolls around, as it does every week, bringing with it Tap and Hip Hop. Though he likes to go, it was a chore just to get there, but we made it. We were even early! With a toddler, that is always an achievement I’m proud of. Knowing that the parents don’t sit in the program room while the kid do their thing, I take out my laptop and settle down in the hallway for a good forty-five minutes.
At about twenty minutes into the class, the girl who teaches it comes out with a boy in tow. I’m not familiar with all the kids in his class because, unlike in karate, no one really talks to one another. But, I see that she heads for the mom and the brother. My interest is peaked, so I look over and strain to hear what is happening. The boy who was escorted out of the class had done something, though I couldn’t hear what, but then I heard my son’s name.
The class goes on and since I didn’t have a chance to stop and ask questions right then, I decide to head in after class. My son runs up to me as he does every time the class is finished, excited to show me the stamp that he chose this time. After putting on his jacket, I head back inside, the room now empty of all kids.
I tell the instructor that I overhead my son’s name and wanted to know what happened and if everything is ok. Mommy instinct in full gear.
“Oh yes. The boy was giving your son the middle finger,” she replied to me with a small chuckle, albeit one that also said, “who knew this could happen”.
Before heading out, I tell her I appreciate all she’s doing and assure her that my son loves her class. Thoughts swirl around my brain like fireflies. Technically nothing bad happened, the boy was reprimanded, I’d like to think more by his mom than the instructor, but some action had been taken. Then I think that maybe my son hadn’t seen what happened and we could move on.
Of course, that was not to be. On the way to the car, outside in the bitterly cold wind, he excitedly tells me that a boy showed him the finger! Now, his naivete that makes toddlers so adorable shines through as he shows me the “#1” finger, and I give him a small chuckle. Then I realize, I have to explain this. So, in my best “everything is ok, but please don’t behave like that voice” I explain that the boy was showing him a different finger which is considered very rude and something I hope he never does to anyone else.
It seems like such a small thing to have to explain to a little boy of four, so insignificant. But at that moment, my heart broke just a tiny bit. The innocence that as a mom I am trying to protect is slowly being stripped away; my boy is getting exposed to more and more “adult” content more frequently. These types of conversations are starting to become more mainstream in our household, whereas I thought I’d have more time.
My heart also broke because I could not answer the question of why, and I know I won’t be able to. Why would a boy, who is at most two years older than my baby, go out of his way to be so rude? The instructor mentioned that the two didn’t even talk, that my son tends to be on the quieter side, just going along with her instructions. What made the boy think that it was ok? What was he exposed to that not only taught him the gesture but that he could use it in hate toward another person?
As I’m sure it would for many women, my mommy-heart hurt at the thought of someone hurting my baby, even if it was not a physical pain he was feeling. Right now, he couldn’t care less, I’m sure the incident was completely forgotten by the time he went to bed that night. But he won’t always be that little, and one day he will understand when someone is intentionally trying to inflict pain. For now, I’ll protect him for as long as I can and wonder where in the world a six-year-old could have learned what the middle finger is?