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“Um, excuse me?”
Only afterward did I remember that her name is Jen. I thought I was going to have to holler again or even chase her down because she didn’t turn around, so it was a relief when she paused and I was able to catch her eye. But all my relief evaporated when she stopped and waited for me to speak.
“I, uh, wanted to ask you if you talk to to Cam about not kissing Hailey.”
I had to give her major props because not a single muscle in her face twitched when she said, “Did that happen again? Here at school? We’ve talked to him about it before so I’m kind of disappointed to hear that it happened again.”
“Yes, but here’s the thing…” That’s when I started to babble about how so many of them are still learning physical boundaries and what’s okay at school versus at a playdate and that Hailey was okay. And the teacher told me it’s something she works on during the year, too. That’s probably where I ought to have stopped talking but of course I kept going.
I tried to make it about my daughter. I think I only made it worse.
“See, if Hailey was the kind of kid who’d say no and push someone who was bothering her away if she needed to, I wouldn’t even worry about it. She won’t, though. We’re working on it but she will still sometimes just laugh when she’s in an uncomfortable situation with another person.”
Like, just for instance, when someone leans in to kiss her hair without asking or runs up and grabs her in a bear hug or pulls her close and says, “You know, I think she’s kind of in love with me.” Which is literally something this boy who is no more than six has said. To me. While Hailey stood there smiling. The smile might make it look like everything is all well and good except sometimes she smiles when she doesn’t like what’s happening to her or around her.
I’m not entirely sure what Cam’s mom was thinking as I babbled on. There was a part of me that was afraid her cool demeanor was hiding the anger that would be unleashed on what I’m sure is a very sweet little boy who just happens to have boundary issues. So many little kids do, and most of them grow out of it.
And that is why I had to talk myself into having that awkward chat at drop off. I did talk myself into it, though.
I’m sure I made her very uncomfortable. I’m also pretty sure I was about four times as uncomfortable. But if things were reversed and it was my kid giving drive-by kisses in the schoolyard, I’d sure as sugar want to know about it so I could do something about it.
Some people have asked me if I’m teaching Hailey to stand up for herself. Heck yes, I am teaching Hailey to stand up for herself! We’re coaching her on how to tell Cam no and that kissing isn’t for school and that it’s important to tell people they need to ask before they touch. It just happens to be an ongoing process and until the day she’s confident enough to deck the guy who touches her without her permission, I’m going to step in when I can.
I’m a mom. Doing what needs to be done through the awkwardness is kind of in my job description.