Monday, October 18, 2010

The Bird

Look at that face. Isn't that the most angelic, innocent face you've ever seen? So full of wonder, joy, excitement. So ready to be filled with awe, knowledge, promise, beauty, grace.  A face not to be spoiled by the dirt of the world. A face not to be smeared by smut or knowledge of another second grader.  *sigh* And yet. I knew this day would come. And I know worse days are coming. I am fully aware that the smoking talk, the drinking talk, the kissing talk and the dreaded sex talk are coming. I know. But in all honestly, I thought I had at least another year before I had to pull out my bag of tricks.  I was wrong.

Today, as we're driving home from parent - teacher conferences, my oh so perfect 7 year old daughter says, "Mommy, what does it mean when someone sticks their middle finger up at you? Why is it bad?"  Gaaah.  I took a deeeep breath, turned down the radio and gently dove in. First, we established what had happened. I'll never forget that Howie Mandel routine where he talks about his son asking what 'petting' means. He goes into a whole thing about when a man and a woman love each other and the kid says, "so a sign that says 'ped' then 'x' then 'ing' means a man and a woman. . . " and Howie Mandel realizes that his son has just seen a sign for pedestrian crossing. Ped x ing. So, like I said, I established what happened. A boy on the bus had given someone the middle finger and he had to go to the office for it.  And apparently, the 'big' thing on the bus is to push your middle finger against someone else's forehead. I guess that's a BIG f-you? So I carefully explained that I was going to tell her what it meant. That it was a very bad curse word, one that Mommy and Daddy don't even use, and after this conversation, she wasn't to repeat it. Ever. Then I said it. It had never sounded so dirty. I thought. Then she said it. Oh. My. GAWD.  That nasty word coming out of that precious mouth made me throw up a little. And of course, since it was a new, and forbidden word, she said it a lot. She said, "F*ck. That doesn't even sound like a word. F*ck. That sounds so silly! F*ck. Why is that bad? F*ck." I gritted my teeth and let her explore the word, agreeing with her that it sounded silly. Then she caught me off guard.

"Mommy, what does f*ck mean?"
Really? Can you not just be happy knowing that it is a very bad curse word and we don't ever use it? Please? Must you have a curious, eager brain? Must you be so intelligent and articulate right at this very moment? F*ck. 

My mind whirled. I knew (obviously) I couldn't tell her the meaning of the word. Duh. But what to say, then? I settled on, "Well, people say it when they mess up really, really bad. Or they say it just because they know it is a terrible word and they think it sounds cool." Then the darling child says, "So, putting up your middle finger is like saying, 'you messed up!' "

Yes, Violet, yes it is.

Now, I know that in the grand scheme of things this is really just a blip. I get that. But for me? It's a large blip.  I shelter my kids quite a bit. I admit to letting them listen to the latest Katy Perry song, with me screeching over certain words, but overall, I really do shelter them. We attend church and Sunday school every week -- not because it's just something you 'do' but because we believe that God and Jesus command us to do so, and because we love them. We pray before our meals and at bedtime.  They sing church songs around the house. They also sing country songs, Josh Groban, and yes, even some Katy Perry and Miley Cryus.  But I really thought I had this, you know? I thought, "oh, she's only in second grade." Did I think I was going to be the one to tell her about the middle finger? I know, I know. But I'm looking at this as an example. Does this mean I'm going to be behind on everything else? How do I know when to introduce the other, scarier subjects? Any advice?