Unnerving Mommy, Petrifying Daddy
“Terrance asked me if I wanted to be his girlfriend.” The Princess and I were talking casually about her day at school when this little statement slipped way too comfortably from her lips. My heart raced, and a quick cold sweat instantly made its way to the surface of my skin. Daddy, who I thought was completely mentally and emotionally invested in a video game, nearly dropped the controller. “He asked you WHAT?” The anger and fear laced every syllable of the question.
The Princess froze, not really understanding why her statement caused such a visceral reaction from her dad.
“Can you please go get Mommy some water?” I threw myself into problem solving mode.
“OK, Mommy. Sure.” The princess hopped down off the bed, and walked into the kitchen.
“We’ve got to remain calm, Honey.” I was trying to soothe his ire. “If we react in any way negatively, she won’t tell us things like this. She has to know that she can talk with us about anything.”
“What the hell is some first grader doing asking my baby if she wants to be his girlfriend?” Daddy wasn’t ready to be calm and rational. “I mean, what is he seeing at home?”
I giggled a little. “He doesn’t necessarily have to be seeing anything inappropriate. The cartoons on television have lots of boyfriend/girlfriend stuff.”
“Here you go, Mommy.” The princess returned with a piping hot cup of water. “I made it like coffee.”
“You know I don’t drink coffee, you silly goose. I wanted cold water.”
“OK. I just thought you’d want to try something different.”
“No, I’ll stick with cold water. Thank you, baby.”
“You’re welcome, Mommy.” The Princess walked cautiously back to the kitchen, trying not to spill the hot water.
“I just don’t like it. It makes me feel crazy on the inside.” Daddy was trying to control his fear.
“I know, Honey, but you have to chill out. Our emotional response will tailor how, when, and if she divulges stuff later.”
“I don’t even want to talk about stuff like this, you know?”
“Yes, I know. You don’t have to. I will.”
The Princess came back into the room with luke warm water. “Is this OK?”
“Yes, Baby, it’s fine. What did you say to Terrance when he asked you to be his girlfriend?”
“I didn’t say anything. I didn’t know what to say to him.”
“You tell him, ‘ABSOLUTELY NOT!'” Daddy was now sitting on about an inch of the chair.
“What Daddy means is that you are too young for a boyfriend.”
“And I don’t send her to school to be talking about being the girlfriend of some big-headed, mannish little boy.”
“OK, Daddy. First of all, we don’t know if he has a big head or if he is mannish, but we do know that she is too young and, you’re right, we don’t send her to school to find a boyfriend. She’s there to learn.”
Daddy was rocking back and forth in his chair.
Ignoring him, I asked, “So what will you tell Terrance if he asks you to be his girlfriend again?”
“I will tell him that I am too young and I come to school to learn.”
“OK. Go on and watch TV with your sister.”
Daddy turned off the game and sat on the bed next to me. “I’m just not ready for this stuff. She’s too young.”
“Yes, she is, but we have to listen and remain calm. We have to give her the tools to make good decisions.”
From the kids’ bedroom, the Daredevil’s sing-songy, teasing voice drifted our way. “You’re in love with Terrance. Terrance is in love with you.”
“I’M NOT IN LOVE WITH HIM!” the Princess yelled at her sister.
“NOBODY IS IN LOVE WITH ANYBODY! DO YOU HEAR ME? GO TO BED! EVERYBODY, GOOD NIGHT!”
“Baby?” I tried to ask in my most soothing, loving voice.
“WHAT?” he snapped.
“I KNOW, BUT IT’S TIME FOR BED!”