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It Rhymes With Hester Prynne

Does this boy (at right) deserve a scarlett letter? I mean, really.

There's a little fear hidden inside every parent, a fear that they are going to get The Call. It usually doesn't come until your child is a teenager or until he sexually interested. You know, it's The Call that goes something like this:

"Hello, is this the mother of (fill in the blank)?"
"Why yes, it is. Can I help you?"
"Well, I am the mother of (child of the opposite sex) and your child did something that was unacceptable and inappropriate."

Uh-oh. Now, at this point, the conversation could go anywhere, depending on who your child is and how well you know him. As I shared with you, my 6-year-old son, Kiserian, a.ka. Young Prayer Warrior (YPW), likes to "show the love." Last week I got The Call from a mom I carpool with.

"Hey Shawn, did the other mom in the homeschool group call you?"

"No, she hasn't. What happened?"

The carpooler took a deep breath. "Well, we have a situation." She hesitated."One of the kids saw YPW kiss Cute Little Girl on the lips. The kid told the mom who was teaching the unit and she got pretty upset. She told them that this was inappropriate behavior and should be reserved for married people."

Apparently, when the mom of Cute Little Girl found out about the kiss, she was in shock. "She was stuttering as she tried to figure out what had happened," said the carpooler.

As I listened, I, too, was in shock, but a different kind of shock. As a seasoned parent, I know a little bit about child behavior and as much as I agree that kissing in the lips is out of line (and in the middle of school, no less), I didn't think the kids should have been made to feel bad.

The story gets even better.

"The kid who saw the kiss got upset and wrote up a contract that she expected YPW and Cute Little Girl to sign, saying they would never do this again, complete with checkboxes and a signature line."

Okay, did I mention that all of these kids are 6, including the future contract attorney?

Now, here's where my feminist-activist-training comes in: All I cared about at this point was did the girl say "no," did she push him off of her or start crying — has her reaction been factored into this at all? "How is Cute Little Girl?" I asked. "Is she upset, is she sad?"

"No, she didn't seem upset at all. She was more mad that her friend told on her."

Hmm... The plot thickens.

So, YPW gets home, shares with me his version of the story, and gets lectured on the importance of respecting personal space and exhibiting self-control. He tells me that he didn't sign the contract because he thought the future contract attorney was way out of line. I asked how Cute Little Girl reacted.

"This wasn't the first time Mom, and she kissed me first."

Uh-oh. Cute Little Girl's mom definitely couldn't handle that. Did I need to call in my husband on this one? I wondered. No, Shawn. You're a woman. Tell him that you wouldn't want some guy taking kisses when he feels like it. This is not what a gentleman does. There is a time and place for everything, yada, yada, yada... Stop! He's 6, for crying out loud.

So I asked him to prepare an apology, articulating in his own words why what he did was inappropriate.

My DH couldn't believe the story.

"I kissed Crystal when I was 6, in Ms. Whoever's class, and I don't have a record of sexual offenses. Come to think of it, when I kissed Rommell, and the nuns told my uncle, he said, 'Better a boy than a fish or a dog. Leave that girl alone.'"

Now, what's a mama to do? I certainly didn't imagine The Call would come this soon, and over lip-kissing. But my DH has a point — since when does lip-kissing at 6 lead to sexual deviancy? Are we moms overreacting because we believe our children shouldn't make mistakes?

Cute Little Girl has a twin and her twin (along with the future contract attorney) have been hitting YPW when they see him, and they keep Cute Little Girl away from him at all costs. My older children have witnessed this. "Mom, you gotta say something."

I guess I'll call the moms and talk to the kids in the group on Wednesday so that we can move on. Last time I checked we weren't Puritans, and we don't brand our children with scarlet letters. Then again, YPW's name does rhyme with Hester Prynne. I sure hope the future contract attorney hasn't been reading any Nathanial Hawthorne novels lately.