Karl Hadland wonders if his daughter’s innocence is gone.
Have you ever been in a situation where your child, out of pure innocence, has said or done something, and depending on your reaction you could potentially mess your kid up forever? OK maybe not forever, but your reaction as a parent is going to make something stay innocent or become taboo. I’ve always tried to not make a big deal of something when it comes to my kid’s innocence and purely not knowing something as what it means to adults. This story is a case of exactly this.
About two months ago, my wife and I were downstairs and our daughter was upstairs playing in her playroom before bedtime. As the clock approached eight, the two of us went upstairs to put her in bed and say goodnight. Had we known the mess we were about to walk into we would have prepared ourselves mentally and had a game plan, but of course we were clueless as to what was happening right above our heads.
As we walked upstairs, we noticed something strange out of the corner of our eyes. Above our stairs is a metal railing that goes around the upstairs playroom. Our daughter had all of her Barbies naked and tied by their wrists with hair ribbons all along the entire railing. I can’t tell you what my wife’s first thoughts were, but there was a quick second where I thought I had walked into an episode of the twilight zone and my worst nightmare had become a reality.
My wife did what she usually does when she is in a situation where she feels uncomfortable. She started laughing hysterically and fell to the ground, as I tried as hard as I possibly could to keep a straight face and pretend like there was nothing weird going on around us. I told our daughter it was bed time. My poor daughter, having not one clue as to why her mom was lying on the floor laughing, followed me to her bedroom. As she went into her room, I shut her door quickly and whispered to my wife, “Honey, keep a straight face. It won’t be weird unless we make it weird.” My wife, unable to gain control of her laughing, stayed outside the room giggling. I, as quickly as possible, told our daughter goodnight and gave her a kiss.
Upon putting her to bed, we went back to the naked Barbie mess to investigate what in the world our little girl had been doing. What we found was this:
A line of Ken Barbies and girl Barbies tied by their wrists and ankles. Some of which were on each other’s shoulders, tied backwards, and even some upside down. It was the equivalent of a snake pit where all you can see is parts of snakes entwined together.
Of course we spent the rest of the night conspiring to each other about whether we should discuss this with our daughter. We wondered if we should be worried. Really, we didn’t know how to feel and what should be done. After a couple hours of discussion, we agreed that it was nothing more than innocence, and in the morning I would casually bring it up and ask her what it was that she was doing.
The next morning, I casually brought it up and asked her, “What were you playing upstairs with your barbies last night? Did they all have their clothes off because you don’t know how to put them back on?”
She replied without any hesitation, “I was playing naked and locked in the dungeon.”
What!? I thought to myself. I had no response. All I could muster was, “Oh OK, was it fun?” Honestly there really was nothing I could have said. How do you respond to something like that?
In the end we decided to drop it and not bring it up again. We know our daughter and, to her little mind, it meant nothing more than exactly what she told me “I was playing naked and locked in the dungeon.” To her, there was nothing weird about that. She has no idea people do things like that in real life, and she is still grasping the fact that being naked is a taboo-type thing.
The moral of this severely odd and twisted story, as I’m sure a lot of you are thinking right now, is that simply, as parents, we should be aware that how we react to what our children do can greatly determine how they view something themselves.
There was a lot wrong with what my daughter was doing. But instead of sitting down and having a serious discussion with her about how wrong it is to tie people up naked in a dungeon, my wife and I simply decided that it was nothing more than a five-year-old expressing her innocence and playing with dolls. To her, it was nothing more.
She has not played that game since, and there has not been a reference to that game or anything involving that game since that day. Kids will be kids, and there will always be times when, out of their own pure innocence, they will do things that us parents and adults will think is weird, strange, and sometimes just wrong. But it is nothing more than a kid being a kid.
Originally appeared at NewAgeDads.com.