This is an article I wrote for parenting website Bad Mothers Club a few years ago, for more information see my PR friendly page.
The age of innocence seems to be ebbing away in my house. When asking my seven year old son what he thought of his new teacher, I did not expect him to answer:
“She’s OK, not as fit as Miss Smith though.”
My poor naive brain thought he must be referring to the amount of time she spends on the treadmill and I mumbled a sheepish reply that Miss Smith did indeed seem quite sporty. After bursting into giggles he put me right by letting me know that the general consensus at school was that she was a ‘Fitty’.
When did my sweet innocent child turn into this hormonal creature?? He’ll be reading some God awful lads’ mag and wolf whistling at girls in the playground next.
The left wing, lentil munching hippy came out in me and I tried to discuss how we shouldn’t objectify women in this manner, how Miss Smith was a highly trained, intelligent woman who was a wonderful, caring teacher.
“I agree mummy, but she’s still a hotty!” Charlie happily replied.
This contrast between the grown up phrases coming out of his mouth and the little boy stood in front of me who cried yesterday because he couldn’t finish the last level on his Spongebob game is confusing to say the least.
I thought I was doing so well at sex education, my husband and I decided we would be open and honest and answer any questions they may have with no embarrassment or fibbing about storks. We have talked about how babies are made, about vaginas (though I still hate that word) and penises (or is that peni??). We have looked through a variety of sex ed books aimed at children with the minimal amount of pointing and giggling. I have also had the pleasure of explaining to my then five year old why his willy gets hard sometimes.
But I hadn’t even thought about the social side of sex. Yet in an age where they are completely surrounded by sexual messages, and when they hear older children imitating language they hear on TV, is it any wonder we have a generation of seven year olds who are teens before their time?
So we sit down for a chat, he senses immediately that something is not right and wriggles restlessly, casting a yearning eye towards his games console.
“Son” I say, “when you get older you may start to feel attracted to girls” (The thought that he may be attracted to boys crosses my mind but let’s not complicate things for now.)
“Don’t worry Mummy, I’m always going to live with you,” he says.
“Well, no, you probably won’t,” I say. “When you grow up you will find a girl who you fall in love with and you’ll might want to get married and have your own house. And er, well, the point is that you may find girls attractive but you must treat them with respect. They may not like being referred to as ‘Fitties’.”
“Mummy” he sighs, looking at me as a patient father would an idiot. “Is this because I called Miss Smith a fitty?”
“Well yes. I understand you may hear these phrases but they are not really appropriate.”
He gets up, pats me on the thigh, kisses my cheek and says,
“Don’t worry, Mummy, I think you’re a fitty too!”
Did I feel objectified or flattered? I’m still working on it.
Love Sam xx