The other day my friend called me in tears. She just had a major fight with her boyfriend and needed to talk to me. I had just picked up my daughter from school and she was in the car with me. “I’m with Rowan, but we can stop by.”
My friend, literally, lives two blocks away from my daughter’s school. When we walked in, my daughter asked her if she had any markers. (She didn’t.) So my daughter sat with us as my very emotional friend blurted things like, “Men are such idiots.” And that was on the lighter side. She was explaining their fight and what he had done wrong. My daughter was sitting right beside us with a mixture of boredom and interest.
At my house, I pretty much have an open door policy with my friends. They’ll stop by whenever to chat and usually these chats, for whatever reason, seem to surround problems. These problems include fights with husbands, husbands who may or may not be cheating, and gossip about other people we know who have had boob jobs or tummy tucks, and money issues. My daughter is usually around for these chats and I’ve started to wonder about the difference between “girl talk” and “girl talk.”
“Girl talk” between 9-year-olds usually is about how to make magic potions or what their favorite television show is. “Girl talk” between women usually has to do with relationship problems and weight issues, sex, and well, pretty much anything you’d read in Cosmopolitan magazine. So, is it wrong for me to allow my daughter around us adults during adult talk? I mean, it’s no secret that one day she’s going to have boy trouble and possibly husband trouble. It’s no secret that she’s going to have sex. It’s no secret (no matter how hard I try) that she’s not going to be happy with something about her body.
At my friend’s house, as she was ranting about what an idiot her maybe-boyfriend was, and all the things that annoy her about him, my daughter was just sitting there, listening quietly.
Yes, I know you’re going to ask, “why didn’t you put her in a different room?” Or, “Why didn’t you turn on the television for her?” Or, “Why didn’t you drop her off at home first?” I could have done all these things, of course, but it seems my daughter is interested in adult problems and wanted to sit with us. She wants to know everything about fights, or sometimes (very rarely) when I’m upset with my fiancé, she’ll ask why and I’ll tell her.
She’s interested, but at time behaves indifferently which means maybe it doesn’t affect her at all.
Sometimes, we do have chats about cheating in a relationship, unrelated to me or my friends’ relationships. On her favorite television show, Good Luck Charlie, Spencer, the boyfriend of the main character Teddy, cheated on her. We had a talk about this and she asked me if I would get back together with Spencer if I were Teddy. That’s a hard question to answer, so I did what any mother would do and threw the question right back at her. “Would YOU get back together with him?”
My daughter answered, “No. I don’t like Spencer anymore.”