This weekend my family and I went to a really popular outdoor shopping space here in Austin-it’s always crowded, but this weekend it seemed more crowded than particular, which I thought was strange because it was so godlessly hot outside.
In order to convince our daughter to come with us to this particular space, we usually bribe her with some kind of snack and a trip to the outdoor play area, which is conveniently located outside of the coffee shop. It’s pretty much a win-win, except for the fact that every outdoor area has the two things I like the least: other children and their parents.
This particular group of kids turned out to be pretty cool, actually. The oldest was a boy around the same age as my daughter who had a weird water bottle that misted everyone, and there was a handful of littler kids playing really nicely.
At some point my daughter decided that everyone needed to see the “twirlitude” of her skirt, and started spinning. Pretty much every other little girl followed suit, and even I, icicle-hearted woman that I am, had to admit that it was cute.
That’s when I accidentally made eye contact with one of the other moms. She asked me if my daughter was mine, I said yes, and she smiled at me.
“Watch out. That one’s a flirt!”
Now, I am very very bad at poker face. It’s why I stopped being invited to my husband’s company parties. Judging by the cramping of my upper lip muscles and the shocked look on the other lady’s face, I probably made some combination of my “Please eat shit and die” and “Dafuq are you smoking, lady?” looks. I don’t regret this. I only regret that I hadn’t vocalized these thoughts, because if you think little kids can flirt, you are gross and I need you to go away.
The fact is, I recognize a lot of myself in my daughter, and hearing this woman say this struck fear into my heart. One, because I know that if, at that age, someone had thought I was flirting with boys, I would have been mortified to the point of tears, and I suspect my daughter would feel pretty much the same way. Second, I was actually accused of flirting as a little kid, mainly for things that weren’t my fault, like growing boobs at age 9 or having the sheer audacity to have a mixed-gender group of friends. It gave me seriously mixed up ideas about my body and what kind of friends I was allowed to have.
Actually, the experience shocked me because I don’t see a lot of girls my daughter’s age being labelled “flirts”. Now, don’t get me wrong, girls have a lot of fun crap ahead of them when it comes to wearing leggings at school, picking out Halloween costumes, and becoming responsible for their peer’s boners, but mainly, when an adult is talking about little kids flirting, they’re talking about boys.
Worse, they’re talking about infant boys.
I worked as a server for a very long time, and I can not tell you the amount of times that I’ve heard the phrase, “Aww look! He’s such a flirt!” only to find that they’re talking about a cute little baby boy smiling widely at a (female) waiter. Nothing made me want to vomit more than hearing things like that, coupled with gross onesies that say things like “I Sucked Your Wife’s Titties Last Night”. If you think I’m exaggerating, please take a gander at what passes for funny among what I assume are douchebag/douchebaguette couples when they procreate, to everyone’s combined chagrin:
I could launch into a wordy screed about why it’s wrong to do this. But I refuse to, because if I need to hold your hand to explain why an infant doesn’t need to be your billboard for unfunny frat jokes or why my daughter isn’t flirting when she innocently plays with her friends, you are probably a moron and it would be lost on you anyway.
Can’t we just call “toddler flirting” what it actually is? Kids being friendly? Do we have to couch it in the same language that sick individuals use when they attempt to excuse perving on little kids?
I don’t usually judge people based on one sentence interactions, but I will say this:
You’re gross if you think that little kids can flirt, and I bid you a horrible day.