Yesterday I was talking to my Grandaughter (almost three years old) and I said without hesitation “You put your hand up and tell him NO. If he does it again you hit him in the face.” She is two months shy of three years old and already has a boy at the gym who tries to kiss her. He is the same age. All the kids are adorable including this young boy. His GrandFather has my respect. He is a tattooed grey-haired gentleman who speaks fluent Dude. We have made eye contact and we understand what is happening. I told him a month or so ago “I do not want her growing up thinking she has to let the boys kiss her.” GrandFather responded with “and he is a complete ham and will need to learn.” We gave each the nod and that was settled. Some of it is cute and we let go to the point where she is clearly trying to not have contact and the boy will not leave her alone.
Here is the scene. We go to Gym specifically for kids. We are in our second year. It is frak’n awesome! We scored when we found this place. So it’s the same kids with the occasional newbie. There are lessons, circle time as well as free play gym time. Each child has an adult wandering around keeping track of their “big kid” and making sure they follow the rules. My granddaughter is in love with her coach. She is learning the kid’s names and it’s awesome. Little man has a serious crush on my Granddaughter. During free time they run and play and giggle laugh. Sometimes the two of them but often there are others with them. When the coach calls the “big kids” over to his matt they all go running to find a seat on the matt. Little man follows my Monkey and sits right next to her. And it begins. Holding hands was the first. It was incredibly sweet. Sometimes she would hold his hand and sometimes she would push his hand away. Grandpa has been great about pulling him back and correcting his behavior. Then the kissing started. Little man will kiss her arm or side of her shoulder that is exposed to him. She does not like the kisses. She leans away, wipes them off and tells him no. Again, Grandpa pulls him back and tells him “Dude no you can’t do that.” All the while the kids are facing the coach and listening to what he is saying. Parents are standing behind staring at their child to keep them on the matt and following the rules. Sometimes it stops because of the exercise the coach is leading them through (distraction) and sometimes Grandpa will just have had enough and make him sit down on the other end of the matt.
First of all this young boy is very sweet. He is clearly very well loved by his best friend and Grandfather. He is not a bad kid in any way. I am not here to come down on any parenting style. The fact that caught in the moment I heard myself say “you put your hand up and tell him NO. If he does it again you hit him in the face” is what I would like to talk about. Monkey had given me “the look” at the gym that morning. Little man was kissing her and she didn’t like it. I saw her want to hit him. I have told her over and over and over “no hitting at the gym.” In the car after class, she said “I don’t want boy kisses on my face” as she wiped her face off.
Now I am questioning my judgment. I believe she has the right to hit him square in the face for unwanted kisses when she has said stop. And only after one time and only because she is in a gym. And in reality that is even wrong. Why does she being a kid make it OK to be kissed like that when she doesn’t want it? If I was working out at the gym and a man I had seen working out there for a year suddenly kissed me I would punch him in the face. Why does she have to tolerate this because she is two years old?
I watched a show called 13 Reasons Why. It starts out with a crappy teen drama. But then it turns ugly and nasty quick. It is the real truth of high school in America today. You follow the life of a female student who takes her own life. This series changed me. I will not have my Granddaughter grow up letting boys treat her this way. I want her ready to defend herself. I want to teach her strength and confidence. So today I asked her Father to watch the show and told him that we then need a plan in place for her self-defense and we need to be on the same page. I told him that I had told her to punch that boy in the face if he comes again after she says no. I told him and my Partner. Her body is hers. She will not be told to take that off boys. Not now. Not ever. So we need a set of rules and we need to all live by them. I’m going to teach her when it’s OK to take the first swing. Why does age matter? At what age does a woman own her body and have the right to say no? And if you crossed the physical contact boundary why shouldn’t she punch you in the face?