“I’m sexy and I know it!” my six-year-old chants.
Screee! That’s the sound of a record screeching to a stop when the needle is dragged across the vinyl – it is an old school sound for this old school mom.
“What are you singing there, son?”
“I dunno. I heard it on the bus. I’m sexy and I know it…”
Then my daughter, a four-year-old, picks up on my disbelief, joining her brother in the chant.
“Do you know that that means?” I query.
“No. Ummm… I think ‘sexy’ is the guy’s name. You know, like ‘I’m Jacob and I know it.’ That’s what it means.”
I sigh and shake my head. This isn’t really a conversation I was planning to have. How do you explain “sexy” to a six-year-old who has no clue what sex appeal is because he’s, you know, six.
“OK. Sexy is a way someone is described when they look really beautiful and stuff.”
My daughter grins, “Like you, mommy?”
Like me? Ummm… no.
“Yeah, mom, you’re beautiful and sexy!” my son grins, thinking he’s complimented me. It is not a compliment coming from your child. Well, the beautiful part is, but I don’t think I ever need to hear my son tell me I’m sexy again.
“No, honey. You think someone is sexy when you… when you want to… to marry them.”
“Oh. So you think daddy is sexy?” he asks like he might be understanding this.
“But you don’t think I’m sexy because you don’t want to marry me because you’re my mom, right?”
“Absolutely right,” I say, relieved.
“Am I sexy?” my daughter asks, her little face turned up with curiosity.
“No. Absolutely not. Not yet because you are still a kid and you are too young to get married.”
“But I wanna marry my brother.”
“You can’t do that, honey. It is against the law to marry your brother. You can’t marry your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother or your cousin. Ok?”
“OK. Can I marry my friend Mina?” she asks, understanding that her friend is not a blood relative.
“Well, actually, yes you can marry your friend Mina when you’re all grown up. At least in Iowa you can.”
“OK. I’ll do that. We’ll both wear pretty dresses and dance at a ball.”
“That sounds lovely. Can I come and dance with daddy?”
“Yep. But my brother can’t come because he’ll just be mean to me because I can’t marry him.”
And that is how the conversation got back on track, back to playing the loop of he said/she did/tattle/squabble/complain. In other words, a much more comfortable position for me than discussing “sexy” and same-sex marriage with my kids.
I wouldn’t consider myself a prude and can definitely think back to song lyrics from my childhood which are very inappropriate. I mean, I learned about teen pregnancy from “Billy Jean.” But good gravy did that conversation with my kids veer off into territory I wasn’t prepared to discuss.
We’ve had the “babies are made with a special hug” conversation and the “no one gets to touch your private parts” conversation. But I was sort of at a loss for the rest of their questions. Do I tell them what sexy is? How does one even define that in terms that make sense to pre-pubertal children?
And my daughter wanting to marry her friend? Well, right now, thanks to her older brother, she’s in a phase where she thinks all boys are icky. I’m kind of OK with that. She believes that weddings are all about the dress. And marriage is for parents to make families.
I don’t need her going all boy crazy in kindergarten. I think it’s kind of creepy when I hear elementary-aged kids talking about having girlfriends and boyfriends. No, I take that back – I think it’s creepy when adults ask elementary-aged kids about romantic relationships. Why encourage romantic relationships in kids that age? Don’t parents have enough difficulty helping their kids navigate that part of life when it is appropriate?
We talk about marriage with our kids. We tell them that mommy and daddy love each other so much that we want to be best friends and raise a family together forever. We tell them that families come in all different shapes and sizes and that some families have just a mommy or a daddy and kids and other families have two mommies or two daddies or step-parents, too. We tell them that families are bound together by love and that love will help them grow up together.
But I really never thought to bring “sexy” into any of those conversations. Thank you Top 40 radio. I guess this means that I am going to have to listen to more pop music just so I know what’s going on out there to cover my bases for the next question…