Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Adult Conversations

I’ve already mentioned that I keep secrets from my kids or lie to them. I guess there’s another thread to this behavior that I’ve failed to mention before. Or maybe I have and I’m just too lazy to go back and look. Sorry, friends, you’ll have to hear it again. However, the circumstances are different, so there is new news, even if I’m beating the same old drum.

I tend to not tell my kids when something bad happens to someone they know until it’s absolutely necessary. In some cases, I don’t say anything because I don’t know how true the statements are. For example, someone in our family has repeatedly said she’s dying of this or that, but that never turns out to be the case. On the other hand, it can be media attention to one of their favorite stars. Both girls love Miley Cyrus, Hannah Montana, her show, movies, toys and clothing. What they don’t know are the things we adults see in the press and honestly, there’s no need for them to hear it. They see a show and they like it, that’s their world. They don’t need to know that she’s dating someone much older in real life, or whatever it is that she did wrong. It has no place in their world, they love the girl in the TV show and that’s all there is to it. I don’t necessarily shield them from that information, but we don’t get any magazines or see anything on TV where that nonsense might be seen. They know only what they see. They are young enough that I have control over what they are exposed to.

In the past few weeks, there have been several things that have happened at Sugar’s school that I failed to mention to her. I didn’t mention these things for a couple of reasons. The first case involves a teacher that Sugar never had. She knows her by sight and thinks she’s “pretty and nice.” This teacher was arrested after a physical fight with her husband. I don’t know exactly what happened but I know the media reported that she attempted to strangle her husband. I read this story online while at work and I gave a lot of thought as to how I would address it with Sugar. When I picked her up, I asked if she knew the teacher and she said yes and that’s when she told me that she was pretty and nice. I tried fishing for further information, to see if there were any issues that needed to be talked about but Sugar didn’t seem aware of the situation.

The next day was a different story. “Hey Mama, that teacher you asked me about? She tried to KILL her husband and she’s going to JAIL for five years and she got FIRED.” I talked the situation over with Sugar and told her how these things work in the world. It’s amazing how mixed up kids get their stories.

The second situation involves Sugar’s second grade teacher. I like this woman a lot and have remained in touch with her via Facebook. Last week she put up a post that worried me, so I reached out to her. As it turned out, her contract has not been renewed so she will not be returning to teach at our school next year. I am devastated for this woman as I thought she was a phenomenal teacher. Sugar adored her, as did Spice. Every time we go to the school Spice talks about how she’s going to get that teacher when she’s in second grade. How my heart hurt that Spice’s dream wouldn’t come true. Again, I chose not to tell my girls what happened to this teacher. First, I wasn’t sure what to say and second, Sugar won’t be in school there next year so she wasn’t likely to be immediately aware that the teacher was gone. Third, Spice has a few years before second grade and I’m sure I could have come up with an explanation as to where the teacher had gone by then.

Sugar came home from school ranting about how the teacher had been fired and one friend’s mother had even voted to fire her. Again, we went through how things work in the real world and I pointed out that the friends mother had nothing to do with the firing, no matter what he said. Meanwhile Spice is devastated to lose the teacher she never got to have.

I guess I tell my kids things on a “need to know” basis. It’s my feeling that they didn’t really need to know either of these things. In regards to the first situation, the thought that a teacher “tried to kill” someone scared the shit out of Sugar. “What if she had tried to kill one of us?!” Somehow, I can’t see that Sugar or anyone else in her school would have been in that kind of danger. In the other situation, I feel badly for my friend that has to go to her job every day knowing that she won’t be back next year. Not only are her coworkers talking, but now the students are too. It’s bad enough that we, as adults, hear something and embellish facts to sensationalize a situation, but it’s even worse when kids get a hold of a nugget of information and put their own spin on it. At their ages, they have no idea how the world works and the twists they add really scare them.

Tonight I saw a slightly different angle on this. We attended a school concert so Sugar was on stage while Spice and I were in the audience. Some neighbors came and sat behind us. I attempted to have a conversation with the adults, but their 12-year-old daughter nattered on and on about the price of gas and how it’s Kadafi’s fault they can’t go on vacation this year. Then she started about funding of programs in our town and how some things will cost money now so they won’t be able to participate. Really? I was most annoyed that she dominated the conversation and shocked that her parents didn’t tell her to shut up. Further, she really doesn’t know exactly what she was talking about so she was talking out her ass. Endlessly annoying!

Which brings me back to my point: In my world, there are some conversations that can and should involve children and others that should not. I will continue to tell my kids things on a need to know basis. I will use my own judgment to share things with them or not. And if they hear rumors about situations, I will do my best to put out fires.

Ice Princess

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