Recently I have noticed some inappropriate behaviour creeping into my house. I suppose I might have to call it ‘sexualised’, although I hate to link that word with my kids. It’s hard to know how to react to this sort of thing. Do I make a big deal out of it and ban them from ever saying those words/ behaving in that way again? Or do I just completely ignore it? Do I have a calm conversation with them about it? Well, guess what, I don’t have the answers.
I’m not naive enough to assume that my eldest doesn’t know a certain amount about sex through playground gossip. I remember when I was in Year 6 (or J4 as it was called back in the day) the streetwise kids (or naughty kids as they were known then) talking about ‘sex’ and ‘virgins’ in hushed tones to get laughs. With the internet and the blurring of what should be shown on TV after the 9pm watershed, I’m sure today’s Year 6’s are far more knowledgeable than the naughty kids of the 80s.
And I also know that whatever my eldest knows, or thinks he knows, he will share it with his brother because they share a room and are very close.
A few weeks ago, a burlesque artist ‘Beatrix’ appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. I am unashamed of my family’s addiction to TV talent shows, but I wasn’t sure about this particular act. As stripping goes, it was pretty tasteful, but my kids found it hilarious and fascinating. It was rude! It was a lady’s boobies! (Albeit covered up with digital stars.) The next morning I was upstairs getting dressed, my eldest was at his friend’s house down the road and the younger two were downstairs. They were rather quiet. I went to see what they were up to. Endlessly rewinding and re-watching Beatrix and her boobs. So I told them they weren’t to watch it any more. Later on my eldest came home with his friend (a girl, a year older) and they were quiet too. But then again, they usually are. And they were watching damn Beatrix and her boobs too! So I deleted her from the Sky box. And her semi-final performance too. This doesn’t stop my kids continuing to talk about her or do impressions of her.
This week, my eldest got home from school and (he will kill me for telling you this) went into his little sister’s room and put on loads of hairbands and hair clips. And eyeliner. Except I don’t think she has eyeliner. It was probably mascara, applied under his eyes. In fact all over his eyes. Why did he do this?
‘Because I’m pretending to be gay’.
OK, how to take that? Tell him there’s nothing wrong or funny about being gay? Ask him gently if he has feelings towards other boys or if he’s ever wished he was a girl? Ignore him? Or just tell him off?
Well, we were late for my daughter’s dance class and I didn’t have time to deal with it, so I just told him to take all the stuff out of his hair and stay in the car until I’d had time to remove the make-up from his eyes. Parenting at its best, I’m sure you will agree.
Recently my younger son has started singing Rizzle Kicks’ ‘Mama Do the Hump’ accompanied by rather inappropriate dancing. I don’t think this is the actual dance from the video, it’s his own interpretation (or possibly the interpretation of his best friend’s 13 year old brother). Basically it’s a series of very quick hip thrusts with him jumping around the room. He does it constantly from the moment he gets up to the moment he goes to bed. It’s been going on for weeks now. We’re not laughing at him, but his brother and sister are, so he carries on. And now his sister is joining in…
Perhaps foolishly, because now it looks like we are encouraging him, we filmed the two of them doing Mama Do the Hump in their pyjamas. My son did a particularly big and hilarious thrust at the camera. When I watched it, I said ‘Oh B2!’ in surprise at this movement. ‘What?’ shouts my eldest. ‘Has he got an erection?’
Silence. Oh my God. How to react? We didn’t say a word. It was just too inappropriate and horrible. I certainly hadn’t heard THAT word when I was his age, proving my theory that kids are getting more streetwise. I didn’t react because I know he was just saying it to shock and I thought if I ignored it he was less likely to say it again. I’m also not ready to have a conversation about erections – and the fact that his 8 year old brother doesn’t have them.
So that’s my kids. Growing up fast. They are still laughing at weeing, pooing and farting, but now I’m left wondering how to deal with this new strain of ‘comedy’ which has entered our lives.