Thursday, April 8, 2010

Frankie Says Chill Out, Mama

So, the relatives’ visit is going great. I have loved catching up with my Sister in law and 5 nieces and nephews. Except for about 5 minutes this morning when I went stomping and screeching through the house looking for Margaret’s wayward shoe, I have not been my usual psycho-hostess self! I have also been enjoying a bit of Mike’s Hard Limeade in the evening.

One thing happened yesterday, and I’m kind of waiting to see what the fall-out will be. My adorable niece put on a t-shirt/night shirt that said, in 7 inch high letters, “Abortion is Selfish.” It said other stuff on the back, but the lettering was just a wee 72 pt font, so I’m not too concerned with it. I haven’t been so taken aback by a slogan since 1986 when my sister waltzed into the house wearing a “Frankie Says (curse word)” t-shirt, hoping to get a rise out of my parents.

Soooo, here’s the thing. I haven’t yet spoken to my kids about abortion. Not quite sure when I planned to do it, but I was NOT something I anticipated eagerly. There was some murmuring during last year’s election about some stuff they heard in the cafeteria, but I roundly dismissed it. I mean really, no matter which side of the issue one is on, I can’t imagine wanting to break the news to my kids about what abortion is.

But unless Jake and Molly are blind and illiterate, I am assuming the t-shirt be noticed and will spark some discussion in our house. Although it is much sooner than I’d hoped, it is something they would hear about eventually. While our relatives have chosen to discuss it with their kids much earlier, due to their involvement in anti-abortion causes, I guess I was unrealistic to think I could shelter my kids forever.

And isn’t that how it works? Our kids learn a lot of stuff “out there” from others, and we pick up the pieces, take a deep breath, and help frame it in the context of our own family and our belief system.

I mean it’s not as if we as parents sit them down and teach them curse words. We assume they will hear them on the bus, or in the neighborhood, or from Uncle Leonard, and then we’ll have a chance to talk about what they mean and what is okay or not to say in our household.

I remember when my sister let her son start saying Fart instead of Toot. Big goings-on. I found it shocking and didn’t think we’d ever get to that point in our family, but we did, and it really was time. It’s not as if I had to say, “Jake and Molly, I’d like to share with you some alternate terminology for flatulence.” Fart was in their word bank, waiting latent until time for use

Speaking of Jake and Molly, I’ve already told you of the pitiful tale of Jake essentially teaching the little neighbor boy what I consider the most despicable word ever. Ouch. I’m sure that prompted some dinner table discussion down the street.

And when they were 4 and 6, they took it upon themselves to disabuse any other minors of the notion that a man in a white beard and red suit was responsible for giving out Christmas presents. To any friends we managed to maintain from that era, I’m sorry and you’re welcome.

I’m sorry my kids stole your kids’ magic, but I hope the Grinch-y ideas they sowed made it a little less traumatic as your kids started to put 2 and 2 together. Heck, your kids could have been bitter 12 year olds like my husband was, embarrassed to have believed for so long and pissed at his parents for lying to him. And if you didn’t like it, you could have just said what my friend Bev did, “Just ignore them. Those See kids don’t know ANYTHING.”

And sex, do you really want to have to start explaining that from SCRATCH the night before Family Life Education starts? Not thanks. Wouldn’t it be better if little Jimmy down the street planted the seeds (ewwww….totally not what I meant) and you could do a leetle clarification? Or you could do what I did and sprinkle a lot of "How God Makes Babies" and "Where Do Babies Come From?" books around the house, hoping the kids would read them.

So, as I head off to bed, I don’t know where the t-shirt will lead, but I do know that it’s neither the first nor the last hard thing we’ll have to talk to these little guys about. Sigh.

And that makes me think, "Frankie Says Relax." Either that, or it's the Limeade talking.

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Kristina P. said...

Well, I guess that's one way to start a conversation about abortion! Eeek!

Debbie said...

I remember being shocked the first time Archie Bunker flushed the toilet on TV. Times have changed, haven't they?

Patty said...

Gosh I agree with Kristina P. Yikes!!

Christy said...

Wow I guess we parents all do have to think about these things...and then actually discuss them with our kids - yikes.

PS - congrats on getting to the $1500 mark! Sweet!

lynn from For Love or Funny said...

One marital disagreement in our house centered around Santa. My husband wanted to perpetuate the myth. I refused to lie to my children.

I'm anxious to hear how the abortion discussion goes with your family.

Shay said...

Tricky situation isnt it?

Brings to mind when my SIL told my then 14 year old that said SIL spent most of her high school senior year drunk and stoned and " and I turned out alright" which frankly was debatable.

I recall being livid.

I think if this is not the right time to have this conversation with your kids, it's perfectly acceptable to ask your niece not to wear this nightshirt. You wouldn't hesitate if it had a marijuana leaf on it ...I dont see any difference.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I find it intriguing and admirable that you didn't say which direction the discussion about abortion would take with your kiddos. Although the Easter egg condoms on the prior post lead me to believe that it might involve some mention about the importance of the responsible use of birth control.

You are such a good mom, with your "alternative terms for flatulance" and all. Whenever this comes up, you'll do great.


Glennon said...

i am going to have to reread this one because i was so shocked by the child-in-abortion-tshirt that i couldn't concentrate the rest of the time.

i think i might have made a tshirt real quick for my kid that said "wearing shocking t-shirts is selfish."

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Well - I guess it does open the door for discussion... Either way - that would have shocked me - to see a child wearing a t-shirt slogan that could be a protest sign or a bumper sticker. A stiff drink might be in order for me...

EatPlayLove said...

Time to buy your niece some new pajamas. Eek.

Tracie said...

I yi yi. I dread these types of conversation with my kids. Last year my oldest came home from school screeching "Barack Obama kills babies!" but I shushed him up and moved on to a new topic.

Heidi said...

Holy Moley.

My daughter's school has been teaching them about secrets...when to keep one and when to speak one. It's a loaded topic and an important one, but tough to navigate. So, I'm trying to teach A without completely freaking her out. They grow up so freaking fast!