Remember that time I used to write, but then I had a second child, and he became mobile, and never slept, and was so time consuming that I didn't have time to wash my own armpits, let alone write a word?
Luckily, things are finally starting to settle down, and he and his older sister are quietly fighting in the family room now so it gives me a chance to take a stroll down another memory lane.
Remember when Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had a part in that song that nobody remembers? All he said was, "It doesn't matter" in an authoritative tone. And those are the only lyrics anyone can recall? My kids turned me into The Rock the other day, and also taught me a little lesson. I decided crawl out of hiding to discuss it via my online soap box.
How amaaaaaazing of me.
So a long while back, my kids were loudly fighting (as opposed to quietly fighting, as aforementioned). All of a sudden, Avery's screaming changed from the normal, background noise screams, to that high-pitched, "something is wrong" scream. We both ran up the stairs to find that Liam had bitten Avery HARD on the upper arm.
I'm talking seeing all of his teeth marks, purple bruising already, swelling bite. The kid really got her.
Let me now throw in a disclaimer regarding my husband, for he knew not what he was doing. I know that he was trying to get to the root of the problem, but the way he went about it left something to be desired. And as a second disclaimer, let it be known that we fight like dogs sometimes. Two strong personalities under one roof (who then created two more strong personalities) involves a good many arguments, but also a whole lot of loving. So take your judgement elsewhere, because I know that you, Reader, are not in a perfect relationship either.
As he was hugging Avery and swaying her back and forth in his arms to comfort her, he asked, very gently, "What did you do to Liam that made him bite you?"
Okay. Hold the F up. This is when I morphed into the Rock.
"What? It doesn't matter!"
"But he wouldn't just bite. Something had to have been going on."
"But it doesn't matter."
This went on for a little while. Long enough for me to get pretty irritated with it. I may or may not have started shouting. I may also have let a swear word rip. But for some reason, this really got under my skin that he would ask her that in that way.
Recently I watched a terrifying but excellent documentary on Netflix called "The Hunting Ground". It's about girls in university getting raped on campus and how nobody is doing anything about it. Everyone should watch it. I'm also still reeling that the RNC officer who took advantage of an intoxicated woman was found not guilty (if you are too drunk to remember, YOU ARE TOO DRUNK TO CONSENT). I can't even with this shit.
All of this made it dawn on me, that this was what was still bothering me about the "what did you do" question.
It doesn't matter what she was doing. It doesn't matter if she took his toys, or if she hit him, or if she even bit him first, none of that gives Liam permission to bite. It doesn't matter. The question is irrelevant. You don't bite.
Similarly, in sixteen years or so (for Liam - right now, for every other male) , it doesn't matter if some girl is wearing a mini skirt and a low cut top. It doesn't matter if she's completely ossified. It doesn't matter if you've had consensual sex before. It doesn't matter if she comes back to his place. It doesn't matter if she's been flirting with him for weeks. And in the same way that some kids just bite, some assholes just rape. Nothing that she does matters if she has not consented this time.
You don't rape.
It doesn't matter.
Let the record show that I will not be teaching my daughter that someone else's terrible behavior is her fault, no matter the circumstances. And I won't be teaching my son that he can do something that is wrong, because someone else "started it".
Again, I need to clarify, that my husband's intent is not to raise a rapist. We are generally 100% on the same page. I can't stress enough that it was just the wording of the question that he asked, and he was not being accusatory. He was trying to get to the bottom of what happened. I also know that when he reads this he will be thinking, "Thanks for throwing me under the bus, sweetheart". So, sorry, Byrne. But lately, as Avery gets older and more aware, wording is what I'm paying attention to.
I'm becoming painfully aware of the fact that I am raising a young girl in a world where the perfect body will be unattainable for her, she will likely get blamed should she ever be sexually assaulted (and let's be serious, even if she doesn't get blamed, the guy might get a slap on the wrist), and it's okay for her to have her breasts hanging out all over the place, as long as she is not using them for their sole purpose which is of course to feed her children.
I bought her her first bikini the other day, much to my dismay. Her little friends are wearing them and she wants to be like them. And I wear them, and she wants to be like me, but something about it breaks me a little. I'm so torn. She's so young, but at the same time, why shouldn't she be allowed to wear what she wants?
She is growing so fast but she's still so little and there are so many sides to every decision that I could sit on everything for days trying to decide what exactly is right. I want to protect her from judgement, but teach her that her body is beautiful. And she shouldn't have to cover up, because boys should be taught not to objectify. To her it's just a cute bathing suit like mommy and her friends wear. I'm the one who is looking at it as showing too much of her body, and I don't want to put that on her either because I don't want her to think that there is anything wrong with her body. It is perfect.
I want to keep her small but I don't want to clip her wings. I want her to love herself, but I don't want her to be a "target".
I thought once they started sleeping and using the toilet, everything would get easier. I am HILARIOUS.
Bottom line is, between teaching Liam the meaning of "consent" in ANY situation (as in just because your sister is being an asshole that doesn't give you the right to bite her - just because a girl is wearing a mini dress doesn't mean she wants to have sex with you) and teaching Avery that her actions don't mean she "deserves" what happens to her (yes you were probably being a pain in the ass but no you shouldn't have been bitten - yes you were probably drunk but you shouldn't have been taken advantage of), and teaching my husband that it doesn't matter WHAT Avery (or any girl) does, she never deserves to be hurt or frightened or taken advantage of by anyone, and our reaction to the little things will soon dictate whether or not she comes to us with the big things... I am sweating.
Who knew you had to start these big ass lessons so early? And also, while we're all here, who knows what time the liquor store opens?
Parenting is bullshit.