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Kissing Boys Is NOT Gross

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, and I spent a good bit of the afternoon cross legged on our daughter’s floor marking her clothing with a Sharpie.


I wrote Jane on her socks, her toothbrush, her beloved skinny jeans and  a few tank tops. Then, I sobbed. Not like a little bit either, but the sort of sobs where you stop breathing for a moment and you think you might pass out. The sort of sobs that are typically reserved for a death.

Yesterday it felt like childhood died in my home.

Our daughter left for summer camp this morning. Sleep away summer camp. Summer camp that your Mom is not invited to. Summer Camp where you are responsible for what you wear, what you eat, making your bed and playing nicely with others.

She is fearless. She is ready. She was excited and joyful and fairly bounded out of my husband’s car, and toward the bus that would take her into the mountains of Southern California. The bus that would take her away from us. As she started towards her gaggle of friends I had a horrible realization.

Boys go to camp too.

I ran to catch up to Jane, grabbed her left arm and spun her around to look me in the eye. Her blue eyes sparkled and opened wide. I was panicked, she could sense it.

“Jane, there’s something I forgot to tell you.” I started urgently, “There are boys here, and there are going to be girls and boys holding hands and kissing. You are too young to kiss.”

“Oh Mom,” She began, but didn’t make eye contact with me, “Boys are gross.”

“No Jane, boys are not gross. Boys are wonderful and handsome and smart and they will make you feel wonderful. But you are too young to kiss anyone. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mom, but really they’re…” she started to say gross, but I interrupted.

“Don’t lie to me Jane. We both know boys are great. Promise me you won’t kiss one.”

“I promise.” She met my eyes.

She ran off to join her friends, and I realized that I’d blown it. I tried to take what should have been months of preparation and cram it into 27 seconds.

Sometimes things like this make me feel like a horrible parent, but after dinner my husband confessed that he had given Jane the “child molester” lecture while taking her to the bathroom, it was just three minutes after I gave her the don’t kiss one. Most often I’m convinced that my husband is the better parent. Today we’re on equal footing. Squarely behind the eight ball.

It’s a quarter to ten and I’m wondering if my daughter is sleeping well. I don’t know what she ate for dinner or if she brushed her teeth before bed. I hope she uses the good sunscreen I packed for her on her face, and the spray on her arms and legs. I worry that she misses me. I worry that she doesn’t.

We’ve closed her bedroom door. We miss her, and although I love that my daughter is maturing into an independent young lady, the worst part of me wants her to need me a little more than she does.

25 thoughts on “Kissing Boys Is NOT Gross”

  1. My daughter will start kindergarten in the fall and with a month and a half remaining until they rip her from my arms and load her on to the big yellow bus of doom, I’ve already started ugly crying.

    Hang in there.

  2. That’s an awesome post. I can totally see myself in your shoes about 6 or 7 years from now. Scary stuff letting our kids out in the wide wide world. Mine goes to Kindergarden this Sept too. And while I’m not crying about it (yet) I also know that boys won’t be trying to kiss her.

  3. My 6 y.o. has left me twice for my mother–“Mommy, I wanna stay at Meemaw’s…for a long time, okay?”–and once for a girl he met in kindergarden, lol It’s tough, but still best job in the whole world, right? Gotta go.
    *lump in throat*

  4. What a sweet mom you are. I’ve a new reader and as a newlywed contemplating entering the world of parenting, your insight and candor is most appreciate!

    Also, as a 28 year old who’s mother still misses me terrible and calls to check up on me constantly here in Tokyo, reading your posts really help me to understand my mother better :).

    I typed all of that just to say, I love your blog, keep up the fantastic postings!

  5. Oh, Jessica, my heart goes out to you. I dread the time my kids want to go to sleep away camp. In fact, I’m not telling them it even exists. And I’m also telling them that kids usually let their Moms go to college with them.

  6. Is there something horrible wrong with me because all summer I’ve been thinking how wonderful life will be when my kids are old enough to go to sleepover camp, and I hope they pick the 3-week version, not the 1-week?

    I desperately need a break.

    Maybe it will be hard for me when the day actually comes.

  7. my daughters go to summer camp. my youngest turned 11. my oldest is 13. neither one of them kissed a boy yet. i know. they would for sure have told me!
    does your daughters camp have bunk one? where you can stalk the pictures of whats happening at camp on a daily basis.
    i cry when i drop them off at the bus stop. i cry when i get letters of how homesick they are. and i cry how much sand there is in their duffel bags when they get home!
    enjoy! she’ll be fine! if she isn’t, you can always go pick her up, right!?

  8. Parenting is hard. My oldest is 14 and the baby is 11. I’m shocked each day by their growing independence. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. But, it is what it is, right? There’s no going backwards, but there’s lots of crying (mine).

    I hope your daughter has a terrific camp experience!

  9. Oh, Jessica. This will be a loooonnnngggg week for you! I hope you have lots of distracting things planned.

    My husband & I just went on our first trip without the kids three weeks ago to So Cal. I had anxiety every day! I was certain our plane would go down, leaving them in the hands of siblings we chose as guardians that really aren’t ready for that responsibility. I hated that I didn’t know what they were doing every moment, what they were eating and how they were sleeping. I’m sure they watched way more TV than they would at home. I was a wreck.

    The worst part…they didn’t want to come home. They didn’t even miss us. I wrote little notes for my mother-in-law to give them when they got sad and she finally gave them their cards on the last night since she never “needed” them. My 5year old actually wanted to turn back time to their first day there so they wouldn’t have to return.

    According to my father-in-law, I should be proud and thrilled that I have two extremely confident, independent and well-adjusted children. I am. But I do wish they’d miss me a little bit. Or even a FRACTION of what I missed them.

    I hope I can someday be as strong as you to let my child leave my protective arms for summer camp. Hang in there! I have wonderful memories of my summers away at camp…and some of them do include dreamy camp counselors but without the kissing!

  10. Amy @ Living Locurto

    That is so sweet! My kids are 2 and 6 and driving me crazy this summer. This is a good reminder to enjoy them while they actually need and want to be around mom all the time! Although right now, summer camp away is sounding great!! :-) Good luck while your daughter is away. I bet she’s having a blast!

  11. OH, I feel your pain. I remember feeling this each time my kids went to camp the first time. It seems unnatural. But then they do so well and get all those wonderful memories we want them to have.
    And as for kissing boys? I’m sure your daughter would NEVER do that…

  12. I wish my daughter thought boys were gross. She is barely seven and asking about kissing boys already (she had her eye on an 8th grader who lives down the street). I told her that she was not allowed to kiss anyone who is not a year or two within her age (that will be an interesting conversation when she realizes that her dad was 25 and I was 35 when we married but I am fine with hypocrisy where my child and sex are concerned).

    Most parents leave the sex talking until the last minute.

  13. This is the first summer in 10 years that I haven’t spent hours marking every sock for at least one of my daughters. Not having a child at camp is my rite of passage this year. They’re both taller than me as of this year, and the older is driving. They both have always been fiercely independent and we’ve encouraged that- but now I’m wanting to lock them up until they’re 21. I’ve taken up meditation :)

  14. Dang it, Jessica. As we drove away from dropping off our youngest yesterday, I thought I’d forgotten something. That’s what it was — I didn’t label his clothes! Thanks a bunch for reminding me what a bad mommy I am.

  15. I’m with Amy on this one. My oldest son is getting ready to start Kindergarten in the Fall and I’m already sobbing at night. I feel your pain! Though, I do have to say the fact that you feel this way to begin with should prove to you what a wonderful mother you truly are. There is no such thing as a perfect mom, there are however lots of great ones…

    Let us know how it goes!!

  16. It is hard when it seems that they don’t really need you as much, isn’t it (but they always do and will, just remember that).

    I don’t think my boy will ever want to go to overnight camp, but the gutsy girlie who’s just 4 will likely convince her big brother to when she’ll be begging to go!

    What a post; made me tear up.

  17. This happened to me too!  My daugher went away to camp for THREE weeks this summer.  At first, she diligently called but soon it became obvious it was because she HAD TO.  She sounded so thrilled when during week 3 I let her off the hook and said, we’ll see you soon so you don’t have to call again.  It was heartbreaking.  I know that means I’ve done my job well.  She thrived at camp!  But it was difficult for me.  Even worse, she came back a little more like a teenager than when I left her.  But at least she didn’t kiss any boys, lol.  Great post!

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