Sometimes as parents we are called upon to have serious talks with our children. This last week, I got a call from the school saying that my six-year-old daughter was chasing down and kissing boys on the playground. Hmmm. My first thought is, those boys must really have wanted to get caught because she has an orthopedic impairment and doesn’t run very fast. And, I never want her to think that there’s anything wrong with romantic interest (even if she is six), I just don’t want her growing up too fast. In addition, I don’t want her to get stuck on a strategy that’s guaranteed to not get her what she wants out of a boy (which is, to paraphrase things I have overheard her saying to her siblings, to pretty much have a handsome prince adore her). So I have this talk with her:
Me: Honey, I understand you were chasing down and kissing boys on the playground.
Her: How did you know that?
Me: Well, the school called and they’re worried.
Her: But I like to chase them.
Me: Do you know why the school is worried?
Me: Well, at six, it’s fine to like boys, but you’re not allowed to kiss them until uou’re at least twelve. It’s an unwritten rule, just ask your big sister.
Me: Yeah. And that’s just a peck on the lips. Maybe hold their hand. Nothing else until you’re sixteen.
Her: (Looking befuddled, like, what else is there?)
Me: And besides, chasing boys is not how you catch them.
Her: (Furrows brow, perplexed) It’s not? It’s how I catched them.
Me: No. Not the best way at all. At least, not the way to catch the kind of ... boys who are worth catching.
Her: (Crosses arms and stares at me as if in challenge) Then what are you supposed to do?
Me: (Thinks a moment) Hold very still … and wait for them to come to you.
Her: (Confused. Pauses) Ohhh …
Me: Once a boy comes to you, then you decide if you want to catch him or not. Trust me, it works better that way.
Me: Yeah, and you can un-choose a boy at any time if you need to, too.
Big sister (ten and therefore very wise) chimes in that really, it does work better that way. After all, that is how she got her boyfriend, the one she really liked and who doesn’t even care that a bunch of other girls think he’s cute and want to steal him away. She tells her little sister that if you wait for a boy to come to you, you know he wants you, not just any girl. And, if he lets those other girls steal him, then it’s his loss. Then big sister proceeds to explain to little sister about how kissing boys on the playground gives you “a reputation.” She explains that this means that all the boys—even the creepy ones—will think they have a right to kiss you. And girls won’t want to be your friend because boys will think that of them if they hang out with you. She echoes my sentiment that twelve is a good age for a first kiss. She says, “Some things are worth waiting for.” Little sister soaks in all of this information. I say a prayer for my girls. It’s such a tough world in which to be a kid.