Apparently my five year old thinks it’s ok to go around kissing boys. Little wonder really; when I was in year one I was the only one game enough to actually kiss the boys in kiss chasey. The other girls used to bring them to me. That was until year two, when a new girl arrived and threatened my role as boy kisser. I wasn’t impressed, I can tell you that.
But this is completely different. This is my daughter. My daughter should not be kissing anyone, even if he is cute and comes from a nice family.
It’s the latest in a run of boy related events in our family. It has been a few months since I spoke of Taylah and her boy issues, but they haven’t ceased. It’s a new one who is chasing her now, and it has forever changed the way she thinks. Any sort of ‘unusual’ boy behaviour is now filtered through this view of ‘maybe he’s in love with me.’ (Those are her words.) Because she is eight she hasn’t yet realised that most boy behaviour falls in the unusual basket.
But Bridie’s kissing talk tonight brought up the question of when a boyfriend would be acceptable.
Can I just take a moment to point out how supremely sad I am that this is even an issue? But anyway….
Rather than take the stance of ‘you can’t date until your eighteen,’ our encouragement to the kids is to not even think about it until you’re at the point where you can think about getting married.
‘So nineteen?’ Taylah asked.
‘Yes nineteen would be ok.’
‘What?! You’ve got be kidding?!’ was her appalled reaction.
So now what do I do? It’s bad enough that she is noticing the boys noticing her, I certainly don’t want to encourage any noticing back.
When it comes to the issues of sex and relationships, we take what is probably consisted a very conservative approach. Obviously being Christians we are big advocates of abstinence before marriage, both having learned the hard way why God says it’s best. But we also want our kids to be as innocent and pure of heart as possible. Because of that we are very careful about the movies and television shows they’re exposed to (we quite regularly turn off the news, or send them out of the room), and when we are forced to provide an explanation, we do it as honestly as we can without giving too much information. We are of the firm belief that kids who are exposed to sexual information early and more often, are more likely to act out on that information, because they play it out in their head. Our goal is to keep our kids as relevantly innocent as possible, to protect them from heart break.
But obviously you can’t explain that to an eight or a five year old. So with the help of some Fischer Price Little People, we explained King Solomon to them.
Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you
by the gazelles and by the does of the field:
Do not arouse or awaken love
until it so desires. (Song 2:7 TNIV)
I got out the little people, and lined them up. ‘This is a boy. Let’s call him Charlie. And this is a girl called…’ ‘Pinkee!’ Bridie yelled.
‘Pinkee it is! So God has planned for Charlie to marry Pinkee when he is 22. But when Charlie is fifteen, he meets…’
‘Zoe!’ Taylah volunteered.
‘Right, he meets Zoe and falls in love. But Zoe is really bossy, and she tells him off whenever he does anything.’
Without going in to heaps of detail, we paired Charlie off with about five different girls, and after each relationship ‘broke down,’ I got Taylah to write down what kind of baggage Charlie had. Basically by the time he met Pinkee he though all girls were bossy, selfish, jealous, spent lots of money, and manipulative. We talked about how Charlie carried all those thoughts like suitcases, and how they changed the way he thought about Pinkee, and could make her sad. Then we said how God wants us to meet the right person without any baggage suit cases.
I think the message got through. But if that didn’t then the next part did. Tim got down on the floor with us, and married off some people that were supposed to be married to each other. Then he explained that when they finally found each other, they were both very sad because they had loved someone else first. It was a good opportunity to bring our own experience to the table. We said how mummy was sad cause daddy had girlfriends before me, and daddy was sad because mummy had boyfriends. The thought that we had ever seen anyone else was so foreign to our kids, and not really an image we want to give, but we made our point. If our mistakes can prevent theirs, then we are willing to share.
Now obviously we are realistic, but we need to set our goals and expectations high, and make sure we have plenty of grace should they fail to meet them. This parenting gig is hard, but not because of the conversations or the sleepless nights. It’s hard cause your heart is literally walking around in front of you, and you want to protect it at all costs. I want my kids to enjoy the euphoria of first love, and not the pain of heartbreak. I don’t want them crying themselves to sleep when they’re fourteen, cause they are ‘not pretty enough.’ I will do my absolute best to love them, and help them make wise choices that will lead to happily ever after, because even if they’re not royalty, they are God’s children, and that makes them princesses. And princesses deserve the best.