When I pick my kids up from school, it’s sometimes the equivalent of pulling teeth to get them to talk about their day. Usually, I start by asking about the fun stuff like recess, PE or lunchtime. Then, I try to move on to what they may have learned. Anything to get a tiny morsel of information about how their day went or what is going on in their little universe.
My daughter is much more forthcoming than my son. But, she claims to forget a lot or not remember until it’s convenient for her to bring whatever up or cry later about an injustice on the playground. I’m fine with this. It’s on her terms. On the other hand, B is like a vault or some large walking clam. Not a lot is going to get him to open up. God bless the poor women that date him later on in life. I’m trying to help you ladies…
There is a secret though to getting them to dish. Have more than one kid around and watch the information flow like a river. Both B and A had play dates last Thursday. One boy and one girl came home with us in our car. I swear we had not pulled out of the parking lot at school and the talk started up. B’s best buddy, we’ll call him Matt, is a great kid. And he will tell me anything. Anything. He opens his mouth and the stuff just flies out. There is no stopping it. He’ll dish on how he feels about the teacher or a specific kid or a girl that chased him. He’s the youngest at his house. So, maybe he doesn’t get an adequate amount of speaking time at home. I don’t know. But, I love it because it makes B open up a little bit more.
So, the four of them are standing around my kitchen island eating an after school snack before they play. Their chatter is making me laugh. It is so cute and sweet. They talk about who won the running race during PE class. They talk about how unfair one boy is on the playground because he always makes himself football team captain. My daughter’s friend, we’ll call her Katie, demonstrates a dance step from the Barn Dance at school the previous week. They are adorable.
Then the conversation turns to this…
Matt: “Do you know that Bob* at school puts up his middle finger during class?”
A: “Yeah, he got a yellow card for doing that.”
Katie: “And Steve* in our class did it also. During class…”
B: Still saying nothing.
Matt: “Yeah and my friend, Ben* from my neighborhood, does it when we are playing at outside. He does it all the time.”
A: “Mom what does that mean? What is the middle finger for?”
OH MY GOD. These children are going to leave here and tell their parents that we had a discussion on swearing and what the middle finger means… F@#K!
A is now putting her middle finger up and down turning it so it faces her and then faces out.
Me: “A put your finger down that is not appropriate. This is not a nice gesture. It’s a pretty rude thing to do to someone. So, let’s not do that again.”
The group: “Yeah, but what does it mean?”
How do you describe this to a group of 7 year olds? The very word is not even close to being in their vocabulary or realm of conscience. At least I hope so…
Me: “We’re not going to talk about what it means. It’s not appropriate for 7 year olds, let’s leave it at that.” Now, I’m trying to distract them with something else.
Matt: “Some kids say swear words out loud.”
B: “Yeah, like the Sh word and the St word.” He finally pipes up and this is his contribution?!?
A: “Someone in my class said the A word.”
Katie: Looking wide-eyed and ready for some answers. Did I mention it’s the first time this little girl has come over to play?
Me: “Ok, let’s get your coats on and go play at the park. Wait, what is the St word?”
B: “I don’t think I can say it Mom.”
Me: “Go ahead and spell it.”
Giggling from all four children ensues.
Me: ”Ok. Outside. Let’s go.”
Before we went outside, I said something along the lines of not going into detail about this conversation to other children etc. We didn’t need to be rehashing it again. So, later that night we are driving a friend of A’s home from basketball practice. Her family is very good friends of ours. B turns to her in the car and says, “So, hey, do you know what it means to put up your middle finger?” Not. Even. Kidding. I swear I was about to strangle him.
Maybe it’s better not to know… You know, that ignorance is bliss thing.