At What Age Do You Start to Teach about . . .

The other day I went to see a cringe movie, Knocked Up. I'll explain why I cringed so much when I post the 3rd Carnival of All Substances in mid-July. It wasn't the gratuitous bad sex, strangely enough.

Anyway, I was doing pretty well. But at the end of the movie the camera pans an air shot of the Pacific Palisades . This is where I take my grandkids when I visit them in California. So it broke me up that there I was, figuratively speaking at the Palisades, but not with the kids.

Could've threatened to make the evening un-salvageable, not that every evening can be salvageable. And I didn't behave. I started ranting about missing them, which made me feel worse.

You see, expressing emotion does not necessarily make a person feel better.

No one could make me feel better, really. There was nothing to say.

Got home and called the kids knowing they were already in bed. But I love talking to Empath Daught, and in truth, of her crew, I miss her the most.

Empath Daught answered, juggling her second shift, cooking Friday night dinner. We talked awhile, then A., the 2.75 year old got out of bed. I could hear him through the speaker phone. "Hi Mommy. " He's not a great sleeper. There's so much to do.

"Let me talk to him," I said.

She put him on the phone and he talked non-stop for 20 minutes. It was amazing. He talked about his little cousin, HH, and he talked about his older brother's grateraton from nursery school (or is it pre-nursery, what is it at 4 almost 5?). He talked about Michelley, the girl in his class who doesn't share her chips, and about Shadow, the dog everyone loves to hate, and about his Daddy and his mother's neck.

"And I tried to kiss Michelley but she didn't like it."

"A," I said, "You always have to ask permission before you kiss a girl, you have to ask her, Is it okay if I kiss you?"

Pause. Long pause. I could see the wheels in his head turning.

"Oh. I will do that next time," he said. "I will try to remember to do that."

Ya' gotta' start 'em young.

Copyright 2007, therapydoc


notfainthearted said…
Starting when my boys were little littel (like maybe 3 and 1) and they were goofing around tickling each other, one would say stop and if the other didn't stop (usually the older one) I tried to always intervene saying "When someone says stop, that means stop and you have to stop, even if you think they don't really mean it."

I'm hoping, now that they're 16 and 13 they might have that little message stuck in their minds when they start dating.

Oh, and I'll be repeating it as I send them out the door.
therapydoc said…
Well said.

The poster in my office says,

No Means No
Jay said…
My daughter came home at age 4 and said "Gabe tried to kiss me today". I said "What did you do?" She said "I told him: No kissing at the JCC!"

He knew better than to argue. She did allow that it was OK to Mommy to kiss Daddy at the JCC, but "no kid kissing allowed".

And apropros of nothing, I've punished you for actually reading my blog by tagging you with a meme: five reasons you blog. And then tag five others. But, of course, you could always say "no".
therapydoc said…
Cute story. I won't say no, but it's on a list of memes to do, okay?
Jay said…
{phew} Thanks.
Anonymous said…
I imagine that kids hear the "No means No" a lot... I know that my parents used it (when we would keep asking for the same thing over and over and over, hoping they would change their minds). And now I find that I use it, when my kids ask the same thing a gazillion times (hoping that the answer will be different next time). As the parent it makes me kinda nutso that even after a "No means No!", the kid will just keep coming back... I wonder if there are parents who eventually just cave, even when they say that no means no, it might mean yes (if you are persistent enough). kinda scary, i guess....
therapydoc said…
Sometimes it's good to cave, if a kid presents a fabulous argument. Barring that, most parents do their best, I think, to make sure their kids are safe. They don't say no because they like being the bad guy.

It would be more fun to be a friend, but they can find those at school.
Anonymous said…
I guess I wasn't clear here cuz I was thinking about mixed messages and learning that No Means No ...if kids (boys AND girls) get the message that if someone just keeps asking (pestering), if someone is persistent enough, then the No becomes... "Not No" (a bit different from a resounding YES! I think). So as kids grow into teens and young adults, do we teach them that No (eventually, after lots of work) doesn't always unequivocally mean No? Except when it does. Isn't that a kinda mixed message? Do we give girls the tools to really know that they can say NO! and mean it -- end of discussion? Do we give boys the tools to understand it?

remember the song "Fire" from 1970-something?

You're riding in my car
I turn on the radio
I'm pulling you closer
But you keep tellin' me no
You say you don't like that
But I know that you're a liar
'Cause when we kiss
Ooh... Fire
therapydoc said…
NO is not a mixed message. Trust the words, that's the data that holds up in court today.

The rock 'n roller might feel the fire, but if she says No, he'd better stop and ask, quite honestly, is it really No? If she says No, it's No.

In every rape there's a No that's totally ignored.
Summer said…
Thank you for sharing this with the Carnival of SAHMs