T is over tonight as his dad is working evenings and his S.O. is not available. Well lucky me I get him for an extra night during a week that is not mine. Of course I am going to scoop that one right up.
When T first arrived home there were two bags of garbage waiting for him to take down to the dumpster. We had a little bit of a hemming and hawing and arguing a tad, about how unfair it was and it was not his garbage. This ended with me reminding him that when he came back we needed to have a talk.
Oh no he insisted, we did not have to have a talk. That was all taken care of. He knew all about it. I raised an eyebrow at him and said yes, however we need to have a conversation. I am not mad but I need to explain some things to you. Off he went, looking dejected and worried, for I am sure he was expecting a lecture.
I required fortification for this conversation so I poured myself a cup of coffee and turned around to sit back down at the table. T had plunked himself into my chair so I ushered him out of it. Not happy. He wanders around in front of me, anything to forestall the dreaded lecture that T feels is coming. I look at him. He walks around the cat’s scratching post, pulling on the batting ball.
‘Buddy, do you know what rape is?’
Well now that I hooked you with suspense and you are all sitting with either your mouths hanging open or a crooked eyebrow thinking what the hell has gotten into this woman? allow me to fill you in. Monday I came out from getting ready for work to discover that T’s school had called me. Noticed I had a voice mail but was in a panic so did not listen. Had I, I would have realized it was from T’s teacher. Well, I am trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Thought if he was being a bully he had better run. Was hoping he wasn’t being bullied. Called and left a message at the school for T’s teacher to call me at work.
He did. And I discovered that T and a group of his friends had been playing tag. It was called ‘Rape’ tag. I still do not understand the full concept. It entailed playing tag but if you were it to make the other person it you had to ‘hump’ them. Needless to say my face was burning with mortification. I had no idea where this came from and well I may have stuttered a little I was so shocked. I agreed that not only should I have a conversation with T regarding this subject but also that he needed to see the guidance counsellor along with the boys that had been involved. They also saw the Principal I believe.
Let us fast forward to this afternoon. So T is staring at me and I ask him again. And he goes well it has to do with sex. That is it. That is all. Okay I in no way want the school to be explaining what rape is to T. This is something that needs to be handled by parents. But I knew that the Ex (I know I confuse myself too) had talked to him because he knew the name of the boys involved and had disciplined T with the loss of Youtube. Which means that tonight T is stuck hanging out with me. Once he comes home from hanging out with the neighbor.
I explain that rape was not about sex. It was a violent and degrading act that happened to both women and men. That often time women (I needed to chose one or the other to explain female is just easier) are threatened with being killed if they do not comply, hit and beaten. That their clothing is torn off and it is an evil act. Do you think that I was too graphic? I want to get the point across to my son that rape is nothing to be blaise and flip about. But he is only 9 you are pointing at the screen, only 9. If he and his friends are able to use the word and run around knowing that it has to do with a sexual act, than he is old enough to learn what is right and what is wrong in regards to his behaviour towards women.
I also explained that a lot of times, especially by men, rape goes unreported. That the person lives with guilt and fear. And that if they do come forward and go to the police they are often treated as though it was their fault. That they had asked for this act to happen to them. He said ask for it? What do you mean mom? So I tried to explain and than I stopped and said, you know how during the summer mom wears a bikini at the beach, and shorts and tank tops? Do you think that because I am dressed like that that anyone should be allowed to touch me or try to have sex with me? And he said absolutely not.
I said, that is what it means to say someone was asking for it based on the way they were dressed. But it could also be how they act. How they are walking. Even how they might have smiled at someone. T looked at me and went to sit on the couch. He stared at me and I stared back. I wanted to know if he understood now why everyone was making such a big deal about it. He did.
I again reiterated to him that no matter what a girl is wearing or how she looks, talks or behaves does not mean he has the right to touch her unless she gives him permission. And than I did something that may have either scarred him for life, or done some good, I told him that the basis of his behaviour towards girls (now) and women as he gets older should be as simple as this: Would he want someone to do this to his mother?
I am not saying my son is not going to ogle girls and smile at them. I would not expect him not to. It is human nature. If you say not, I say you are a liar. You should see me when a cute man walks by the counter at work, I will be leaning over it to watch him go out that door. However, I know that I am teaching him how to respect them more.