Also posted on Boy Q and Girl Q. Today Boy Q had a day-long play date with a friend from preschool. He’s kind of a special friend, we’ll call him Hunter*, because Hunter is really the only kid Boy Q wants to celebrate his birthday with. Hunter’s Mom is fantastic–she’s super nice and considerate. She always gives the boys awesome days–full of playgrounds, pizza, and fun.
When Boy Q got home from his play date he was talking non-stop about all the cool things he’d done. Hunter has a toy bow-and-arrow! And something that shoots marshmallows! And they watched a movie! And he ate A WHOLE pizza! And then:
“Hunter says his dad likes to look at pictures of naked ladies.”
“I’m sorry, what?!” I say. I’m trying to stay calm, but Boy Q can tell I’m horrified. So we talk a little. Boy Q is totally embarrassed. He keeps face-planting into the couch so he doesn’t have to look at me.
“Where were you?! In his dad’s office or something?”
“Uh, I don’t know where we were.”
“Did you see any pictures?!”
“No!” I can tell he’s not being truthful.
“Please tell the truth.”
“Okay, I didn’t want to look though! I didn’t really see it.”
I say: “Well, Boy Q, lots of people like to look at pictures of naked people but we don’t. So if you ever see a picture like that, just say, ‘No, thank you,’ and don’t look.”
“Is it okay if I just keep playing?!”
I’m about to end the discussion because I can tell he’s at his Awkward Limit, when Boy Q says, “Agh! I can’t get it out of my head!” He buries his head in the couch again.
I’m mortified. He’s scarred for life. He’s seen porn and he won’t look at women the same way ever again! So much for respecting the opposite sex.
After some debating, I decide I should talk to Hunter’s mom. After all, if Hunter found some XXX-rated reading material that belongs to his dad, maybe she’d like to know. I call, no answer, so I decide to text. I know that kids at this age (around six) are super curious, ask lots of awkward questions, and get into everything. I try to be tactful and nice because, really, it’s no one’s fault, it’s just something that happened. I’m hoping they’re not so progressive that they don’t mind-or encourage!-porn for six-year-olds.
Of course, Hunter’s mom calls me back pretty quickly.
“Hey,” she says. “So…Hunter’s dad has some artwork hanging up that’s of nudes (Porn posters!? What is going on in this household?!), like Michelangelo’s David. I’m so sorry. I know that’s what Boy Q is talking about.”
“Oooooooo, ” I say. This revelation changes everything. She goes on to explain that her husband’s taste in art veers toward, well, nudes. But artsy ones, not porn-y ones. A print of David hangs proudly above the staircase and a relatively famous nude woman hangs in the living room. Apparently this isn’t the first time she’s had this conversation and the decor makes for interesting birthday parties. She even offers to never ever have a play date at her house! All in all, it’s an excellent conversation and–miracle of miracles–Boy Q has not seen porn!
Then I realize that I have no idea how to explain this to him. This naked lady is “art” and this naked lady is…not. I wish I could erase our whole prior conversation, in which I’m picturing graphic porn and Boy Q is picturing the statue of David, in which I (from his POV) tell him it’s not okay to look at naked people.
“Boy Q! Good news! You and Hunter didn’t do anything wrong! This is art!” I Google David. I try to explain the difference between what I was thinking and what he saw without using the word ‘sex‘. “Does that make sense?” Boy Q doesn’t pause: “No.”
Eventually, Dad Q and I settle on this poor explanation–“a photograph of a naked person might not be okay, but a painting or statue of a naked person is probably art.” I know! You don’t need to point out the limitations of this logic! But it was the best we could come up with under duress.
Boy Q is totally done with this conversation. After my last attempt to explain, he gave me a withering look and said, “It’s fine.”
I have never been more grateful for mis-communication in my entire life. Overjoyed, you might say. 😉 And Hunter’s Mom is a wonderful woman, who dealt with a sticky situation with grace, patience, and consideration.
*Totally not his real name.