The Things Your Kids Talk About: Dealing With The School Rumor Mill

Last week, my youngest came home and was telling me about her day at school.  Usually, this conversation consists of funny things the teacher said, some problem she’s having with homework, and the usual musical chairs that goes on at lunch because she wants to be able to sit with all her friends who don’t all sit together. And then there was this:

Mom, Joe was having sex with Betty Sue when he stuck his, well, yeah, back there and she pooped on it!*

The problems I have with that statement are numerous. But I guess my biggest problem was, respect, or lack thereof.  How far back in the chain of events do I go?

Kids Talk
Kids Talk

Let’s start at the beginning.  You kind of have to expect that high school seniors, being 17-18 years old, really aren’t mature enough to understand respecting your sexual partner and the privacy of the act.  The clear fact is my daughter wouldn’t have known anything about this if one of them (or both of them) hadn’t told someone.

But then, that somebody (or somebodies) told somebody else, because my youngest daughter is not in the high school senior social circle.  And the cycle continued until the story made it all the way from 12th grade to 6th.

Now let me tell you, this has got to be the most accurate, well-played game of Telephone ever in the history of the game.  It made it from high school to junior high with the story still intact.

So when my daughter came home with this interesting tidbit about the sexual escapades of two seniors, I was upset.  Not so much at the fact that my daughter now knew about anal sex, (her sister had been privy to a discussion about fisting the week before**) but at the fact that she knew any kind of details of someone else’s sex life.

Although in today’s society, what with 24-hour news, and E! and Entertainment Tonight, knowing the details of someone’s sex life shouldn’t be surprising.

I couldn’t erase the knowledge she had, but I could explain to her, that while Joe and Betty Sue didn’t show much respect for each other, she could show a little respect for their private (although now, not so private) life and not repeat the story.

Whether it was Betty Sue or Joe who told someone else, it wasn’t my daughter’s place to continue to pass the story along.  There should be a little respect for other people, and not run around spreading stories (true or otherwise) that are potentially embarrassing to other people.

There is a lot of this He said/she said going on at this school.  I think a lot of the students think gossip and backstabbing are extracurricular activities, to be honest.

I can’t stop the other kids from talking about kids behind their back, I can teach my girls that it is disrespectful and hurtful.  So I explained it like this,

You know, how, when you do something silly or embarrassing and we tease you about it? You know how you get embarrassed, and your feelings get hurt?  This is just like that for Betty Sue and/or Joe only it’s much worse because it’s not family or just friends. 

It’s the entire high school and half of the junior high.  And every time you tell that story to someone else, you make it just a little more embarrassing for Joe and Betty Sue because now someone else knows and is laughing.

In today’s society, when we have the internet, and cable, and 24 hour news cycles, and E! and Entertainment Tonight, and US Weekly, and Twitter, Facebook, and ‘reality’ TV, there is precious little that is private anymore. 

When you grow up in a society that plasters every single detail of a celebrity’s life all over the media, it’s hard to understand that it can be hurtful and embarrassing when it’s done in real life.

We can sit at home and hide behind our screens (be it computer or television) and watch and comment on other people’s lives without coming face to face with any fallout all this gossiping about people causes. 

It’s difficult for the girls to understand that it doesn’t translate well into real life, especially when the people you’re talking about are in high school, and you’re in junior high.

*Joe and Betty Sue are high school seniors. My daughter, this daughter is in 6th grade. Ah, the joys of a small school, where K-12 are under one roof. Also, names have been changed to protect the apparently not so innocent.

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