Where the heck is the MUTE button!?
I feel the need to preface this blog with the fact that we (generally) live in a g or pg rated house. We edit what our children watch and listen to and with the very rare exception of our child falling out of the car and landing on his head in the middle of a parking lot (still trying to figure how exactly he managed that one), spare their little ears of any kind of profanity. Naturally we know they might hear it out in public or at school but we take the time to explain to them why we don’t use words like that (they aren’t polite) and why sometimes grown-ups might use a word that we ask children not to (with the less stellar explanation of because they are adults.)
Ok.. this disclaimer made.. I will tell you of a time when I sincerely wished I could’ve shut my child’s mouth with the nearest chewy granola bar (does anyone else remember those commercials? Well obviously they were made by parents with extremely articulate children.) I’ll admit that both of my children haven’t been the most articulate or loud speaking children I’ve ever known. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find the desire for your children to speak up or speak louder please squelched the moment they actually do speak up. There will be no questions from bystanders who gaze wide eyed as your five year old asks you how to spell the word “crap” (hopefully learned at school.. the word, not how to spell it) or tells an embarrassing story about growing up and getting hair on their-you-know-whats, just like their dad.
And hopefully, unlike my experience, they will not saying something completely inappropriate and gender confusing as my oldest did in Best Buy during the most crowded part of the year; Christmas.
We were standing in line, waiting to purchase some last minute gifts and my child, who was probably fidgety from shopping and standing in long lines most of the day, kept head butting my leg. I firmly asked him to stop and told him it wasn’t very nice and he could hug me if he wanted but not head butt. He complied and hugged my leg and then kissed it. This is when things took a very rapid turn for the embarrassing.
Ry: Hehe, Mommy, I kissed your penis!
(all right, before I go any further, I must explain two things. One: such a phrase has never been uttered in my house (well, except for now, when we re-tell this story.) Second: Since both my husband and I work in childcare, we have an understanding that using the appropriate terms for body parts is a way of encouraging autonomy in a young child. Of course, all of the reasons for using the appropriate terms raced out of my head like a stampede of wild horses and I was left wishing I instead had taught him something more discreet and indecipherable to the social community.)
Me: *ignoring the crimson flush I’m sure was creeping up my face as I could hear snickering behind me.* Rylan, that’s really not appropriate to say and you know mommy doesn’t have one of those. (Really, I did say exactly that, with absolutely no help from my husband who was barely hiding his laughter from behind the DVD we were buying.)
Rylan: *his smile impish* Yes, you do. I’ve seen it.
Now at this point, I was at a loss as to what to say to my child. I could also feel a number of eyes staring at me from behind, perhaps waiting for me to turn so they could judge for themselves if I was transgender. Certainly telling him to be quiet wasn’t going to solve the problem and I didn’t have anything in my purse to make him eat. I was also left wondering how my child, who for most of his childhood had to be asked to repeat things several times before it made sense, could say something like that with such blazing clarity. It was at that moment my husband nudged Ry in the back slightly and I hoped for a rescue. But instead what he said (and earned him a night on the couch) was “Yeah, Ry, we don’t talk about mommy’s penis in public.”
I know from time to time, I make jokes about being a mom to three boys (if you count my husband) and it’s things like this that make me realize he too needs to be taught about social appropriateness just like my children. This time it sadly wasn’t a joke about his mental age. Also I learned that day that my second child will have to be confused when we choose to teach him that the name of his thing is something like “fuzzy” or “tiny tim.” (Though even these names would’ve drawn some eyebrow raising given the same sentence Ry had spoken.) I guess, in some roundabout way, my husband might’ve been right. There are some things which you hope are never said by your children in public.