*Never thought I’d get to write that headline. At least not while most of the kids were still in elementary school. But here we are.
She had tugged at my arm in the kitchen, pulling me away from dishes or dinner or something that clearly was not as important as what was on her mind. She was upset. And she needed to talk about it.
“I need some comebacks,” she said.
We had a blank whiteboard, but it was so close to bed time, I proposed a “comeback brainstorm” session the following day or over the weekend, when everyone could participate. Yes, it could get dicey, but it could also get super creative and fun and serve as a learning moment for everybody.
Why did the tiniest human in the house need to stockpile an arsenal of comebacks? Because someone had called her a baby — or said she looked like an actual baby — because she’s so small.
She’s little. She is. But she’s no baby.
I had offered a suggestion the night before when she first told me about the interaction, but she clearly wanted more guidance and a few minutes of consoling. And that’s fine.
Then her older sister came in. Then her older brother — all within a few years of each other. One deals with junior high drama, the other playground smack. One of us told them we were going to plan a comeback generation session.
And her brother admitted he needed some.
“Yeah, since that girl called me a dildo,” he said, laughing as he let it out.
At the playground. Yes. A girl, not much older than his fifth-grade self, called him that for not answering her. And she was a stranger.
“What’s that?” the tiny one asked, hearing her siblings laugh.
I froze. Didn’t even get a chance to take a breath. I think I stopped breathing altogether because this conversation is not one I had anticipated that night. Or ever. In a million years. With little kids.
But, where I fell silent, they did not. And so began this volley between a brother and sister, revealing things they know that I didn’t know they knew.
“It’s a thing..” started her sister.
“It’s a toy…” her brother.
“For adults…” one of them finished.
And the smallest face in the house was wide-eyed and beet red. Red. I don’t know how red my face was, but I was waving my hands in the air as if to cut the conversation in half at the knees — like a ref who says “no good” on a field goal.
And then they want to be tucked in and kissed good-night, as if we didn’t just have this super unexpected conversation about a sex toy — when I didn’t even know they knew sex toys existed.
Maybe I’m stupid. I can’t remember fifth grade, and knowing if I knew — really knew — what sex was. I may have. I doubt it. When just the topic of sex came up in passing in our kitchen a few months earlier — can’t remember why — both the older kids assured me they knew what it was, the boy using hand signals (a pointer finger on one hand and a circle on the other hand) to illustrate his knowledge.
Great. Well, that conversation happened. Done and done.
Except not. There will be more, because I suppose if they’re this comfortable talking with me about this stuff, we’re going to go there. And really talk about relationships and sex and anything else that comes up related to that.
Might as well. I’d rather them know than not, if for nothing else, so they can return appropriate comebacks.