When and how should kids learn about sex? Or any controversial subject?
Lets ponder a while before we answer. Recently my wife and I held an anatomy conference/discussion for our second grader, Calamity Jane. There were a few questions on the car ride home that prompted the discussion. She was unimpressed and we learned that she probably had already learned most of these things in school from other kids. The school is public and children can be expected to be exposed to all types of beliefs, opinions, and realities that they wouldn’t see otherwise. After the talk my wife and I both wondered if second grade was too late and when was the time frame, on average, that kids become exposed to life’s truths.
Today I learned that the answer, in some cases, is Kindergarten.
You heard me. Kindergarten.
What truths you ask?
All of them, from what I can tell. The following is an unedited lunch table conversation that I held with a five year old in my daughter’s class. Not the second grade daughter, CJ, but the kindergarten daughter, Prima.
First let me say that in religions and civilizations throughout history, people who knew more than they should were held in high regard as oracles, soothsayers, and philosophers. To this kindergarten class this special child that you are about to meet is no doubt Aristotle. I will reference him as A and myself as UD. Remember that this kid is five.
I join my daughter in a single file line of kids waiting for the cafeteria. She is excited to see me and holds my hand as we wait. She whispers to her friends as she swings our hands back and forth, “This is my daddy, hehehe.” I feel like a good parent today.
Ahead of us is a very energetic child who turns around and introduces himself.
A: Hey mister my name is Aristotle.
UD: Good to meet you, I am Prima’s dad.
A: I have a cornhole and I need toilet paper for my butthole.
UD: Wow okay. Don’t we all. (What do you say?)
A: I made that up.
UD: Which part? You know what, never mind.
He was trying to quote Beavis and Butthead for the generations who are not familiar. He was the Great Cornholio and needed TP for his Bunghole. I see where the translation went wrong.
I try to change the subject for the first, but nowhere near, the last time.
UD: I sure am hungry. I’m glad you kids eat lunch so early.
RANDOM KID: Speaking of lunch, did you know I can walk backwards? (He walks directly into a table and falls over. Strong program we got here.)
We go through the buffet style line and take our seat at various tables. I am excited about my baked fish and pears. Thank goodness that Aristotle is already seated at our table. I try and visit with Prima and we talk about school. Aristotle has a thirst for deep discussion so he starts in with conversation right away.
A: Hey dude. Can you guess what I have in my closet?
UD: Ummm, I found a spider in mine but….
A: Nope! I have guns.
UD: Oh good.
UD: So do you go to a shooting range or practice this like a sport?
A: Nah, We just shoot in the yard at stuff.
UD: Why waste money on safety, I understand.
A: Yeah one is a rifle and the other is an assault rifle, they are BB guns though.
UD: Yeah you might want to lead with that information and I wouldn’t take them in public. They sound confusing.
A: They look really real! They are black and everything.
UD: I bet.
A: Do you have an XBOX 360?
UD: Nope. Just Yahoo Games. I mostly play Sudoku for the mental challenge.
A: I play Modern Warfare Zombie Apocalypse (Stands up and makes machine gun sounds)
UD: (Looking to the boy to my right) Is he always this aggressive?
BOY: (nods yes)
I need another subject change.
UD: So what else do you do for fun?
A: My dog is an Army Trained dog.
UD: Oh yeah what did he do for the army? Pilot or something?
A: Yeah he flew in space planes and did lots of sky battles and stuff.
UD: That sounds like an advanced program. I’m surprised you have such good insider information. Flying dogs could be huge in the arms race.
A: Yeah and he can sit.
UD: Also important.
A: Hey dude guess what?
UD: I have zero idea at this point.
A: A man from a space plane landed in my yard and we had to take care of him until someone could get him.
UD: Oh like in E.T.? I think it is good you care for people no matter the specie or planet of origin.
A: (scrunches up his face in confusion) What?
UD: Nothing. Lets all just eat.
He doesn’t want to stop. He has an audience and is on a roll.
A: When I get a car I’m going to mount guns all over it and pull the triggers.
UD: What would you do that for? I don’t think there are many villains running around the mean streets of Tennessee (although the conversation would suggest otherwise).
A: Yeah well just to shoot things. Why did you say village? I’m gonna have seventy two rockets.
UD: That seems like a lot of rockets. And I said VILLAINS, like bad guys. What are they for?
A: The chainsaw man. (He moves his hand over his face indicating a mask and the boy to my right nods in agreement. They must discuss this often.)
UD: Seventy two missiles seems excessive. (I look toward the boy on the right) Do you think that is too many?
BOY: slowly shakes his head No. (Seventy two seems reasonable to everyone so I leave it alone)
At this point we have already covered Aliens, Violent Video Games, Drive-by Shootings, Inappropriate Cartoonsm Chainsaw Massacre, and Flying Army Space Dogs. Time for yet another subject change.
UD: Soooo. What is everyone’s favorite Jolly Rancher flavor? I can’t stand Green Apple. (Please don’t make this a horrible subject)
A: Ranch Dressing.
(There was zero hesitation, I can’t make up stuff that cool. I was laughing on the inside but kept the poker face going.)
UD: I haven’t had Ranch Dressing Jolly Ranchers but it is the south so I guess it may be a thing.
A: Want to hear a word I made up?
UD: Probably not. (Man this kid doesn’t quit)
A: Okay. Man boobs. Thats my word. (He starts making round nipples with his hand and holding them to his chest.)
UD: Whoa there buddy let’s leave body conversation to somewhere other than school.
A: Man Boobs. Man Boobs. Man Boobs. (Boy to the right is holding out his hands like he is holding something.)
UD: Seriously. Something different. Anything. (I give him the serious dad look and he straightens up for a minute)
A: Nipples? (He searches my reaction to see if perhaps nipples are more appropriate than man boobs.)
UD: God. No. No body parts.
A: Nipple guns! (He stands up again and make machine guns noises holding his chest or his man boobs.)
I ignore him and try to talk to my daughter who thankfully is oblivious to all of this because she is talking across the table to her friend. I sit frozen and trying not to stimulate any further conversation. That doesn’t work either. Turns out he starts his own conversations.
A: We shop at the Dollar Store.
UD: Oh yeah, what do you like to buy at the dollar store?
UD: I didn’t know they carried those at the Dollar Store.
A: Yeah they have some. In the back or the side I think.
UD: How about that….
A brief moment of silence and then he continues.
A: Hey dude. Do you know the magic quarter trick?
(Small Prayer: Sweet baby Jesus don’t let this be something I have to report to the State and Child Services, Amen.)
UD: I don’t know what you are talking about. (I hold out my hands to show I am not holding anything.)
A: Oh that is a wedding ring. I thought it was a quarter.
UD: Nope, just married.
A: You know what that means. (He bounces his eyebrows and smiles slyly)
UD: That if I leave she gets half of everything I own?
(He holds up one hand with the thumb and forefinger making a circle. The universal okie-dokie, A-Okay signal. Then takes his other hand and moves the pointer finger back and forth through the hoop. He is making the hand signal for sex. Else he thinks marriage is about using a circle file on the inside of a bagel? I think context answer that question for us, don’t you?)
This time I don’t have to change the subject. He does it for me.
A: Hey give me a postcard.
UD: I don’t have a postcard. (Where could this possibly go with a postcard?)
One of the children at the table hands him an imaginary card which he proceeds to hold each side and lick along the top. After licking the “postcard” he acts like he is rolling it into a tube and then places it behind his ear. I just witnessed a five year old demonstrate the concept movements of rolling a joint. Fantastic. I don’t think he learned that on Kid’s Bop.
Then, like kids are known to do, Prima changes the subject back to marriage. She teased him in that kindergarten, na-na-na boo-boo tone.
Prima: One day you are going to marry a girl.
A: No I’m not. I’m gonna marry this chair.
He then pushes the chair away from the table and bounces up and down on the edge of the chair. It wasn’t distinct enough for the kids to realize what he was doing but I’m pretty certain it was a humping motion.
UD: No one is marrying anything. Just sit back down and lets all finish our lunch.
A: My daddy lives far away and I don’t see him.
UD: I believe you.
A: I live with my mom, grandma, cousin, and KeeKee.
UD: That sounds fun. Let’s eat lunch.
The only other notable event was the kidney punch he gave me when he was walking back from throwing away his tray. More of a love-tap in his world but strange none the less. He did respond to an accusation of being the “meanest kid here” by putting another kid in a headlock.
I am conflicted on this experience because on one hand the conversation was hilarious. On the other, I am really sad for how he will view the world and his role in it. Aristotle is a bright kid. He is full of energy and pretty snappy on the comeback so I think he has potential to pull out of his situation and/or mindset. The saddest part is that his story is the rule in most neighborhoods instead of the exception.
So for all the parents that worry about organic foods and cursing on Prime Time TV. This story is for you. You are not a bad parent and for once, I’m not either. You’re welcome.
Underdaddy to the Rescue.