I had lunch with my daughter one day at school, which I do from time to time. Typically, I just sit there and observe. I watch my daughter eat her lunch, and I enjoy listening to the conversations she engages in with her friends. With six and seven-year-old girls, I am always entertained. It’s so fascinating to hear the organic conversations that take place in their world. It’s an interesting place, Little Girl World. They’re at an age in which they’re so influenced by their surroundings and soak up information like sponges. “Their world” is mostly the world they absorb and observe around them.
So there I was in the school cafeteria. My daughter was eating her sandwich as I listened to two other little girls talk over chicken tenders and mashed potatoes. I can’t even remember how the conversation started, all I remember is why it caught my attention. One of the little girls brought up Taylor Swift, so naturally, my daughter pipes in with “My mom LOVES Taylor Swift!” (Which I do… but, that’s that’s not the point of this story, I promise). “Ewww, you like Taylor Swift? She’s so ugly,” said one little girl. “And so stupid!” the other responded.
“How can they say that about my girl Taylor? Wait, how can they say that about anyone? And why would they say that?” I let my inner fangirl cool off and then I said, “You guys are silly, c’mon, why would you say that?” They looked at each other and laughed. Knowing that they had my goat a bit, they repeated their sentiments a couple more times. By this time, my daughter had moved on to dessert and became disengaged with the conversation. So there I was, alone in Little Girl World.
“Guys, I don’t think that’s very nice,” I said. “We shouldn’t talk that way about other people. It’s hurtful.” That was all I needed to say. I got two little blank stares back, and then they moved on to the next thing.
Maybe they were joking. Maybe I made it into a bigger deal than it was.
Whether they hear it at home or at school, kids listen and kids repeat. More often than not, they don’t even realize the gravity of their own words. And boy, does it happen young.
Would my daughter say something like that?
I talked to my daughter about those icky words at home that night. She knows that they’re not allowed in our house in any context, but nonetheless, it was good to talk through it. It won’t be the last time she hears something like that at school or among her peers. And, of course, I’m not physically going to be there for most of those situations (darn it!). At the end of the day, I have to be confident in what I’ve modeled for her through my own actions and words.
Oh, Little Girl World. I’ve got my eye on you…