A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker
It was innocent, really. Nothing to get excited about. Just kids being kids. No big deal.
So why did the thought of it send a chill through me – like taking an icicle to the heart?
Elizabeth, then a buoyant, bubbly 3-year-old, had
gone across the street to play with Carlos, who was 4. While they were playing, 4-year-old Weston
dropped in. Everything went smoothly
until Carlos and Weston decided they wanted a kiss from
“So what did she do?” I asked coldly, a little Arnold Schwarzenegger creeping into my normal Jimmy Stewart demeanor.
Anita must have seen the “Terminator” look in my eyes.
“Joe, it’s OK,” she said, reassuringly. “They’re just children.”
“What did she do?” I repeated, this time with a slight Schwarzeneggerian accent.
Anita hesitated. No doubt she was regretting having raised the issue in the first place. Then she went ahead with the bad news: “She kissed them.”
Immediately Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jimmy Stewart stepped aside and Clint Eastwood took over – steely eyed, taut-jawed and intense.
“Where’s the rope?” I asked.
“Joe, it’s OK,” Anita repeated. “I’ve already handled it.”
I glanced outside – toward the tree. “Where did you hang ‘em?” I asked.
“I didn’t hang anybody,” she said, patiently. “I just had a talk with
“That’s it?” I asked. “No revenge? No retaliation? No guest spots on `Oprah’?”
“Nope,” she said. “Sorry.”
“But what if they try to do it again? What’ll we do then? What’ll
“I don’t know,” Anita said. “I taught her what to say. We practiced it a few times. I think she’ll do just fine, but we’re going to have to wait and see.”
We didn’t have to wait long. The very next day the boys asked for another kiss.
“I told them, `No way!’”
End of crisis – at least as far as Carlos and Weston were concerned. But I couldn’t help but wonder about the next time, when motives may be darker and the perpetrator older, stronger, more charming or more persuasive? How do we protect our children against potential horrors in the world without sacrificing the innocence and sweetness of childhood?
I’m no expert, but it seems to me that Anita did
some pretty good things in handling Elizabeth and the Preschool Paramours. She addressed the issue immediately. She taught our daughter our values in a way
that she could understand them. She
empowered her to say “no” if she feels uncomfortable. She provided her with an acceptable response,
and she role-played the situation so
But the most important thing, as far as I’m
concerned, is that Anita was aware of what was going on in
Innocently or otherwise.
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Look for Joe's book, "How Can You Mend a Broken Spleen? Home Remedies for an Ailing World." It is available on-line through www.Amazon.com.