Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Gym Games

K (our 9-year-old son) was riding in the car with me on the way home from karate (I can't stress how much I love this 20 minute drive because we have the most interesting conversations).

K: Mom, what does gay mean?
M: I look back at him at the stop light and he is playing a game on the iPad that has a word that looks like guy on it. "Do you mean guy?"
K: "No, gay. At school a kid said, 'That is so gay.' What does that mean?"
M: "Oh. It's a slang term, like people say, 'oh my goodness!' But, when people use this term it usually means something uncool or not kind."
K: "Oh."
M: "What was happening when you heard this?"
K: "I'm trying to make a rocket with the physics app."  pause.......... "We were in gym and the teacher was explaining our game. We had to take a ball and pass it over our head to get it from the person in front of us and under our legs to the person behind us. Bob (name has been changed) said, 'That is so gay."
M: "What did the teacher say?"
K: "Nothing."
M: "Oh. Well, it's a not nice way of saying something is not cool. You know how mom and dad love each other in a romantic, marriage-type way?"
K: "Yeah."
M: "Well, there are men that love men in a romantic, marriage-type way. They are called gay. When Bob said, 'That's so gay," he was saying that it was acting like those men to get so close physically to someone else to give the ball to them. You know how mom and dad like to hug and kiss and cuddle close?
K: Yeah.
M: "Well, gay men like to get physically close in a way like mom and dad do. Bob was saying that in a mean way to show the teacher he didn't like the activity you were doing. Some people aren't very nice to gay people, who are men that love men in a romantic, marriage-type way. We believe that men and women should have that romantic, marriage-type love, but that doesn't mean we should be mean to people that think differently. We should respect everyone, even if we believe that a man and woman are designed by God to love and marry. Everyone is able to make their own choices."

Friday, April 24, 2015

School Scenes

Last night hubby was putting our 6-year-old daughter to bed. I had already said my good-nights and moved on to the boy's room for kisses and hugs. When all the good-nights were said, I found my hubby relaxing on the couch reading a book.

H: A (daughter) said that Bob (name is changed) pulled his pants down at school today and showed everyone his butt. Did she tell you that?

M: No, she didn't.

H: She said the teacher didn't know or something. I'm not sure.

M: I'll go talk to her.

M: Hi sweetie. Daddy said that you told him Bob pulled his pants down at school today.

A: Yeah. At lunch he showed everyone his butt. I told my teacher. He bumped down to black (the worst punishment at school - principal's office and a call to parents).

M: I'm so glad you told dad about that.

A: I forgot to tell you. I'm sorry.

M: I'm glad you told dad. You could have told me too, but dad is just as good at helping you as I am. I'm also glad you told your teacher.

A: No one else told her.

M: Well, I'm glad you told her about something inappropriate. When something just bothers us we don't always need to tell. But, when something is inappropriate, it's important to tell. How do you feel?

A: I felt better when I told her. I feel happier now that I told you and dad.

M: I'm glad you feel that way. I love you. Good night.

A: Good night.

My intent in going to talk with her after she had already reported to her dad was to see if an adult knew about the situation or not. My husband told me what she had said, but his conversation with her was very brief and he seemed unsure about whether an adult knew. She must have been telling him that her teacher had not seen what happened. But, she did report it (which I will be sure to verify). As I talked with her, I wanted to just acknowledge that she had done the right thing. When something really matters, it's good to reinforce that type of reporting. I also knew that I didn't really need to call the teacher and let her know what had happened so the parents could be informed.

I have had some friends that have taken their children out of school because of an incident like this. I will give you my thoughts on a situation like this. First of all, this could happen at a friend's house. It is age appropriate behavior (not appropriate behavior, but behavior that can be expected at this age). This child was not doing anything that would have been atypical for his age. Also, the teacher took care of it. She took the matter to the principal and the parents. If the behavior would have been directed at my particular child, I would have expected a phone call. Again, I'm grateful for little moments like this where I can reinforce an idea I've been trying to have with my child. Reporting is incredibly important because it is the greatest tool children have if they are ever molested or abused. I don't really like that this stuff happens, but it's a very mild thing that I can use as a teaching tool.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Telling about Touching

I recently read an incredibly sad article about a 13 year old boy who was abused by his uncle. He had loved this uncle and looked up to him. His uncle took him on a campout in a tent and then began sexually abusing him. The uncle was living with him at the time, helping his mother at home. His uncle threatened to hurt him if he told him mother. So....he never told.....until he was older and found his voice.

Because of this article, I felt I needed to have a chat with our six-year-old daughter (and soon will with our nine-year-old son). Here is our conversation:

M: Hey sweetie (I was tucking her into bed). I know sometimes I don't always listen to you very well. I get busy and it takes a long time for me be able to answer you. Did you know that I want you to still be able to tell me anything?
A: Yeah. I love you.
M: I love you too. If you ever need to tell me something really important where your heart is hurting, you just tell me it's REALLY important (because she always tells me what she needs to say is important).
A: Okay.
M: Has an adult ever told you to keep a secret?
A: Yeah. You did when we bought daddy's birthday present.
M: Right. Did daddy ever find out about it.
A: (Giggles) Yeah, we gave it to him for his birthday.
M: We did. Did you know that secrets are like that? Good secrets are when we are going to tell someone about them at a certain time, like a birthday. Some secrets, when a person doesn't want you to ever tell are not good secrets.
A: I would tell you if someone told me something bad and I shouldn't tell you.
M: What if the secret was something you felt you did? Would you still tell me?
A: Yeah.
M: Even if you feel like you did something bad, I will always love you and want you to tell me. I am here to help you figure out how to make things right. I want to know.
A: That's good because I love you.
M: Remember when we talked about appropriate touch?
A: Yeah. I will tell you if someone touches me inappropriately.
M: Good. What if that person was someone you love?
A: I would still tell.
M: What if it was your grandma or papa or grandpa or grandmommy? Would you still tell?
A: Yes.
M: Good. These people love you and probably wouldn't hurt you, but I want you to know that I want to know if anyone touches you inappropriately.
A: Okay. I wouldn't want to be touched inappropriately. I would tell them to stop.
M: Good. And if they don't stop what do you do?
A: Come find you or daddy as soon as I can and tell you about it.
M: That's a good idea. What if that person told you that if you ever told me or daddy they would hurt you or hurt someone else you love like Z (little brother)?
A: I would still tell you.
M: I know you could feel scared and upset if that ever happened to you, but I want you to know that even if someone tried to threaten to hurt you, daddy and I would be able to find a way to protect you as long as you tell us, even if it's someone we love.
A: I understand. I love you.
M: I love you too!

This was a hard conversation for me because I don't want her to ever think other adults are scary or bad. She didn't seem to be upset at all. She seemed to understand that I was just letting her know that if certain things happen, she can absolutely come to me, no matter what it is. Hopefully, this was because I was praying for the spirit to speak to her. We have to be careful not to make children afraid of people in general, but also give them the tools they need to speak up if necessary. Now, I just need to find an opportunity to talk with our older son about it.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pippin Probe: Part 3

After a couple of days, I was feeling like I should answer one of our son's questions about Pippin a little more thoroughly. I didn't feel like the answer we gave him was adequate. We want our children to really understand what it means to follow the spirit. It is absolutely appropriate to go back and respond to a question that you've already answered if you feel you need to clarify something, or add to it. Here is the question we revisited:

K: Yeah. Well, didn't you have a feeling beforehand that the show was going to be bad? (WHAT AN EXCELLENT QUESTION!!!!!)
M&D: You know, we did our research and tried to figure out if it was appropriate. We didn't get a feeling while we were getting the tickets, but we definitely felt like we should leave during the show.

On the way home from church one day, I had my moment to bring it up. We were talking about what the kids learned at church. Our 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter were telling stories they learned. Our daughter had talked about baptism. I knew this was a good moment to talk about the Holy Ghost and re-answer our son's question.

M: K and A ( our six year old daughter), remember when we were talking about Pippin and you asked about if we got a feeling before the show that it was bad?

K and A: Yes.

M: Well, I feel like I should give you a better answer. (I should have asked what they remembered from the previous answer, but forgot). When we are baptized we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. That's why you asked the question. You want to know how the Holy Ghost works and Heavenly Father. Well, mom and dad aren't perfect, but we try hard to follow the gospel. We did everything we knew how to do to figure out if the show was appropriate. Heavenly Father knows that. He also knows who we are and what we'll do. Heavenly Father knew that we wouldn't like the show and wouldn't be tempted to do anything bad by seeing it. He allowed us to make a mistake to learn. We learned that we are strong enough to leave an inappropriate show, even when we're with our friends. We also learned that we can have fun and get the spirit back by not allowing a mistake to decide our evening. What are you thinking?

K: Even adults make mistakes. I will try not to go to anything inappropriate.

M: That's great, but if you do you can repent and fix it.

A: I would leave an inappropriate show. I would ask my friends to come with me. If they didn't I would leave anyway and wait for you to come.

M: That would be a wise choice.

To other moms and dads......I wouldn't want anyone to go out and experience this for the sake of having a discussion with a child, but I feel like one of the greatest blessings that came from this experience was the opportunity to have such an incredible teaching moment (many moments and little lessons, really) to share with my children.