If you are a natalie's sentiments facebook fan, you may have seen my distressing cry for parenting advice last week. If not, here was my update:
"Parenting emergency. Lydia came home from school today obviously wanting to tell me something, but couldn't quite do it. Finally, covering her face, she wrote out the word "SEX". My 6 year old was told about sex today by a boy in her class. He also said he wanted to "pretend sex" with her in the field at recess. I think I handled the conversation ok with Lydia, but what do I do with the situation at school??? Do I talk to the teacher? The boy's parents? I thought I was at least a couple years away from having to deal with this!"
Thank you very much for all of your advice. It helped immensely. The most "liked" advice was from Randi Schmid who said, "I would call the school immediately! No, in fact, I would go to school and speak directly to the principle. That's unacceptable. I know it probably happens but it should be addressed immediately. The boys' parents should be called by the school, though."
The next day I made an appointment to speak to the principle. She was mortified. While she said this was not uncommon, she did take it very seriously. The boy was pulled out of class and the principle and he had a little chat. He was pretty embarrassed, but the principle got him to admit he had told her about sex. However, it was still a little sketchy on what exactly he had told her. Lydia was too embarrassed during our talk to tell me exactly, and I didn't want to force her into anything. I knew that this conversation needed to make her feel safe and teach her that I was an ally. For that reason, I also told the principle that Lydia was not to be made aware that I had divulged our conversation. She assured me that the parents would be called, their teacher made aware of the situation and that the boy would be watched. He was also keep from recess the rest of the day so he could not talk to Lydia about his meeting with the principle. The principle said we could meet again soon to discuss the situation.
Right after our meeting, I went and joined Lydia for lunch in the cafeteria. She was thrilled with the happy meal I brought. As we munched on fries she leaned over to me and whispered. "I talked to Pete* today. I told him I didn't want to play the sex game or talk about it anymore". I told her that was great. I reminded her again that sex was something she could always talk to me or daddy about, but not with anyone else. "Oh, I know". *name changed
It's sad. I've done a lot to try and keep my little girl from growing up too fast. But she's very mature and looks like she's 2 years older than she is. All the more reason to be vigilant.
I do almost all of her clothes shopping and never go near places like "Limited Too", or even the girls section of Target. Sexy is not a look I want for my 6 year old. Why would anyone?
Lydia is hardly ever on the computer, and when she is, I'm with her. Last year we shut off cable so that we could have complete control over the shows the kids watch (and to escape commercials and the crazy cable bill). We just have Netflix streaming. I heard one of Lydia's friends telling her that all the shows Lydia and Collin watch "are for babies". That made me smile. I love that my six year old is watching strawberry shortcake, Wonder Pets and Max and Ruby. Shows meant for 6 year olds. I happen to know this particular friend can watch any PG-13 movie she wants to, as long as a parent is watching with her. So I'm guessing she really has a good understanding of sex. That friend hasn't been invited over again.
There is no reason for any child to grow up as faster than they need to. But often we can't keep it from happening. This summer I took the kids to the local park. Annoyingly, a bunch of teenagers were lurking around the play equipment. I hate that. On several occasions I've asked older kids to get off the playground so the young kids could play. I'm that mom.
Well, on this occasion, Lydia ran over to the swings while I was helping Collin elsewhere. I saw that there were a couple teenage boys also swinging. When I noticed they were talking to her, I grabbed Collin's hand and walked over to them. The boys left quickly. It was time for us to go anyway, so we headed home.
"Mom, those boys were really nice."
"Oh yea? Why was that?"
"Well, one said that no matter how much he wanted to hit little girls, he wouldn't."
Anger rising in my chest. "Um, that's not really a nice thing. You shouldn't want to hit anyone."
"Oh." "Mom, what's "herpes"?"
This was when I slammed on my brakes, flipped my car back to the park to find these "nice boys" who had talked to my daughter about herpes, so I could slap their pimply faces. Unfortunately they had retreated back to their dork cave.
I know there's no way to totally protect our kids from this world that wants them to be Honey Boo Boo (gag) instead of Anne of Green Gables. But it's hard. There's a lot of crap out there.
I'm so unbelievable thrilled that Lydia came to me to talk about her sudden introduction to sex. And I think I handled it well. The moment she told me what had happened, I said a silent prayer that I would be the parent she needed me to be. I stayed relaxed and listened. I kept it light. I never let her feel like she had done anything wrong, or that there was anything wrong with sex. Just that it was a special, private thing that we would talk about when she was older. But I made sure she knew she could always talk to me about it. Anytime.
Since then, I've asked her exactly what it was that *Pete told her about sex. She says she can't really remember. She remembers something about being naked and kissing, but after that she said she didn't really want to know anymore, so she stopped listening. She didn't like the way he made her feel, so she left. I marvel at the strength of my little girl to already trust herself enough to walk away in a situation that she felt uncomfortable. Even with a boy who she has "liked" since the beginning of school.
Oh, I pray that she will always have that strength.