May 12, 2010

The words on the street

At our weekly playdate today, a little boy called the girls "stinky sluts", several time, while they ran around the play area. Clearly he had no idea what it meant (let's hope!), but when they came back to tell me and started giggling and calling each OTHER the same thing, I was not happy.

Now, I'm so not a confrontational person. I've always gone back and forth on playground politics and when to intervene. Mostly I tell the girls to say something and walk away if they are bothered. Occasionally, if I feel like the other kid's mom is not doing enough when someone gets physical, I'll tell the kid to knock it off and leave my girls alone. But in this case, talking to the child wasn't really appropriate. Can't you hear it?

"Hey there, little 4-year-old boy! Stop calling my children sluts! You don't even know them socially!!"

Yeah, right.

So, I went to the boy and had him take me to find his mom. He looked scared when I tapped him on the shoulder and I immediately started to feel bad. I was nice, though, and just followed him around to where she was sitting. As soon as she saw her little boy run up with another mom following him, her face went serious, and she said, "Oh, no, is everything ok?". She was a totally normal person, just hanging at the play area for something to do for an hour before lunch and nap time. She looked like just about any other mom I know.

And, boy oh boy, was she MORTIFIED when I sat down and gently told her what he'd been saying. (Funny side note: I actually blushed when I said "sluts". I need to get out more!) Her whole face went red, she covered her mouth and just shook her head and apologized. Then she turned and stared at her son. His face, of course, had gone all oh-no-what-just- happened-there-goes-my-tv-time serious. I told her it was ok, I just figured she'd want to know and I walked away.

First thing she did? Pulled out her cell phone and called, I'm assuming, her husband. Can't you hear that fun conversation? "So, honey. Guess what little Bobby just said! Hmm, where do you think he learned THAT WORD? Any ideas? SWEETIE?".

After I sat back down with my friends, I watched her from across the room. I felt a little guilty to see how appalled she was, especially when the little boy started crying as she made him get ready to go. I could have just told the girls not to play with him (or repeat him) and left it at that. My reasoning is that if it were me, I'd want to know.

So whaddya think? Would you have told the mom or let it slide? Is it any of my business what other kids say?


rmdc said...

First let me say...I am not a Mom but yes, you absolutely should have said something and I'm glad you did. Would you tell another woman that her blouse button was undone (too far down) or that she had toilet paper stuck to her shoe? I would and how much more serious is this?! You don't want to shame the poor kid saying "sluts" but the Mother and therefore, child definately need to know what's going on and while it's not the little buddy's fault...he needs to learn that those are words you just simply can't say to ANYone. I think that if you speak to someone in a situation like this as you did (kind, straight to the point, non emotional) - it's the right thing to do. Haulin' off on her ass...well...probably not the best plan of attack. Kudos to you!

grandmem said...

I've been thinking about this all morning. And of course you did right! But what keeps coming back to me is the juxtaposition of the innocence (not to mention the alliteration) of linking "stinky" (a word that 4 year olds understand, use, and enjoy) with "slut" which is clearly a word the child is incapable of understanding. Now your problem will to be to get YOUR kids to stop using the phrase before they say it to some other child on the playground whose mother comes to sit down my YOU and have a little conversation...