No, I’m not about to write a love story. It’s just that there are thoughts that have been on my mind since a kiss.
I fetch Phoebie, my almost-seven year old from school every day. We walk out of the school gate together and to the car that is parked along the road. As we walk to the car, we would say goodbye to Phoebie’s classmates whom we see along the way.
One of the boys (let’s call him Johnny) caught my attention because he liked to disturb Phoebie by roaring loudly at her as we walked to the car. I didn’t think much of it because I knew that Johnny was just being cheeky. What caught me off guard was what happened yesterday.
As we arrived at our car, I opened the door and had my back facing Johnny. I turned back to him in time to catch a glimpse of what I thought was him giving Phoebie a quick kiss on her cheek. Phoebie’s immediate reaction was, “Ewww… Eeeee!!!” as she repeatedly wiped her face on my shirt.
“Did you just kiss her?” I asked Johnny, just in case I saw wrongly.
Johnny didn’t answer me, but he had a big grin on his face. It looked like a mixture of being happy, and embarrassed that I had pointed it out. Johnny’ grandma heard me and asked him again if he had indeed kissed Phoebie. He didn’t answer his grandma, but his grandma apologised.
Phoebie and I got into the car and went on our way.
As I was driving, many thoughts raced through my head. While I thought that the kiss that Johnny planted on Phoebie’s cheek was probably an innocent act of affection, I couldn’t be 100% sure. I knew I had to talk to my daughter about it.
“Phoebie, did Johnny just kiss you?” I asked.
“Yes, and I didn’t like it. Why did he kiss me?” Phoebie replied.
“I’m not sure, Phoebie,” I said, “Has he ever done that in class?”
“No, but Rick always tries to kiss me too,” Phoebie revealed.
My mind was racing to try and teach my daughter about such situations as best as I can.
“Now, listen to me,” I said, “I don’t know why Johnny and Rick try to kiss you, but you have to tell them that they cannot do that.”
“Why not?” Phoebie asked.
“Now,” I tried to explain, “If this happens to adults, even if the person who tries to kiss you is your friend, if you didn’t give them the permission, this is considered molest. In fact, it is the same for children. No one is allowed to kiss you.”
“The only people who are allowed to kiss you are Papa and I. Your brother and grandparents can also kiss you on the cheek, but no one else should be kissing you, especially not without your permission.”
“Yes, I don’t want the boys to kiss me too. Please don’t make me get married,” Phoebie said.
While I had to explain to her that she was (obviously) too young to be married, and of course not over a kiss, I needed her to understand that she had to learn to protect herself. Whether the boys in her class wanted to kiss her out of sheer cheekiness, or because they like her, kissing, or any inappropriate physical contact should be considered offensive. I needed my daughter to understand that.
I recounted the kissing incident on my personal Facebook status and the post drew an array of reactions from my friends. Thanks to the different emojis people can respond with, I knew how different people felt about the incident.
A number of friends responded with the laughing emoji, and another handful responded with the “Wow” emoji. A couple of friends responded with the “angry” emoji, and I immediately noticed that these are friends who are fathers of little girls.
A number of friends also left comments on the post. While some found the act cute, others were shocked at how brazen Johnny was, especially when he kissed my daughter in front of me.
A few of the comments made me think even more about how I should continue to remind Phoebie the need to protect herself from inappropriate physical contact. At the same time, I am also reminded that I need to teach my own son to respect his friends, and not to force his affection on them.
Okay okay, perhaps this blog post is too big a reaction over a quick peck on the cheek. Yet, that peck brought up many issues I need to address and educate my children about.
When I told husBenKoh about the incident, I told him that I am also reminded, that I would rather we be the ones to fill up our children’s love tanks. We certainly don’t want them to grow up seeking love from the wrong people.
Okay, that’s another topic altogether.