It started as an innocent conversation. One of those typical dialogues a mother might have with an inquisitive, very bright for his age, six-year-old. Answering the first grader’s incessant questions had become a primary role for his parents. Now, as mom worked on getting her hair ready for a rare evening out with her husband, her son walked into the master bedroom, looked around, and uttered yet another interrogative.
This question stopped her in her tracks. “What?” she gasped, hoping her fear was not apparent to her beguiling adolescent. Her son repeated his question, “Mom, what is sexy?”
It is amazing how many thoughts a parent can have in the milliseconds after such a question, “Where did he hear that word?” “It’s not the time for this discussion!” “How do I explain the birds and the bees to a six-year-old?” Her mind continued to race. “What was he learning in school? From his friends? Do I need to monitor his TV viewing even more?” Struggling to maintain her composure, the mom desperately scrambled to formulate a response. The best defense is a good offense, she finally reasoned.
She politely and calmly responded, “Why do you want to know?” although her voice may have pitched up an octave on that last word.
The son pointed at the bottle of hair spray on the counter. “See, right there, it says Big Sexy Hair. So, what’s sexy mean, mom?”
The mom breathed deeply and responded as naturally as she could, “Oh, sexy hair is just very good looking hair.” Her son nodded and muttered a quick “Oh, OK.” Now satisfied with his grasp of a new word, he turned and returned to playing with his younger brother. Mom breathed a sigh of relief and silently patted herself on the back for her astute handling of such a delicate conversation.
Parents, sometimes the simplest answers begin with a question. There are teachable moments, and then there are those land mines to avoid. Learn to discern the difference. Asking clarifying questions not only gives you time to formulate an answer, but also helps determine the real question being asked. Sometimes, it is just not that complicated.
That was until her six-year-old son saw their friendly neighbor that bakes him cookies and said, “Hey Mrs. Jones, you look nice today. Your hair is really sexy.”