Sometimes the familial pairings of playdates don’t work. Such is the case with my youngest son’s little friend, whom we meet every so often for some park play, despite my oldest son’s appeals.
I have been close friends with the mother of this family for years, and her two boys are in line with the ages of my two boys. The two younger children get along well, but Connor has reservations about playing with the boy closer to his age.
Connor has labeled this other child as “having a bad attitude.” I always thought this was an adult characterization leaving the mouth of a 6-year-old, but I cannot recall ever classifying this child as such. In fact, because of my awareness of Connor’s negative feelings toward this child, I have made certain to not to make any comments that might add to this opinion.
Connor’s distaste for this child began when Connor says the other boy called him a “v*gina.” Connor was 4 years old at the time and after a get-together with this family, Connor told me he didn’t want to play with that boy again. Why, I asked, as it all seemed to go well as far as I could see.
“Because he doesn’t share and he keeps calling me a v*gina,” Connor said in a frustrated manner.
“Hmmm,” I said, not sure where to go from here.
“What is a v*gina?” Connor then asked.
Seeing that this word was used in a negative connotation at first, I chose to glaze over it and say nothing more than that it was a name that wasn’t nice to describe someone. The word was never brought up again, well not to describe someone at least, and I pushed off any family playdate offers for several months, opting instead to meet the mom for coffee or dinner without the kids in tow. This worked for a while, but recently the mom has insisted on getting the kids together and I was dry on excuses.
So we met at Highlands Park one sunny summer morning and brought an array of lunch foods. The two little ones plowed trenches in the sand and water area, while the older boys took to the monkey bars and slides. Ashley met some nice girls and had fun pushing their dollies on the swings.
The day was going smoothly, no incidents to speak of. I was able to catch up with the other mom, whom I am quite fond of. The kids went along playing and I was a bit relieved, as I was monitoring conversations from a distance, and heard no derogatory suggestions of female body parts.
We said our goodbyes and were all smiles on our way home. Driving home, I felt guilty for having any reservations about getting our boys together. With three kids of my own, I should be more mindful that kids go through numerous phases, trying out different words and actions with reactions and consequences being the element that determines whether that behavior is repeated. I felt that my hesitation in getting our kids together was quite obviously a mental overreaction. This child had probably heard that word before and tried in on for size, it just happened to be with my child.
Later that night while we were getting ready for bed, I was talking to Connor while he brushed his teeth. I told him how happy I was that the boys got along at the park and how the words they used were so nice.
Connor agreed, gargled with his cavity rinse and looked at me intriguingly.
“Mom, what does b*tch mean?”
And there it was. Another awkward moment, me blindsided by the mouth and irritated by a situation that now seems to repeat itself.
So, I throw this one out to all the moms out there with an opinion… What’s a mom to do? Shall I bring this up to my friend or just go on deflecting my son’s inquiries on words I find inappropriate for a 6-year-old? It’s something we’ll all face at some point, so what’s your idea of the best way to tackle this situation?