The Next Person Who Says My Daughter Is Flirting With Him Will Be Punched

We are out dinner. (I’m on a cooking hiatus. Ask my empty refrigerator.) Next to our table is a trendy woman who is at least seventy (honestly, the entire restaurant is pushing seventy. It’s 5:30 p.m. in a Greek restaurant. Everyone outside is still digesting LUNCH.) She’s fashionable and wrinkly, which I admire.

Until we leave, and she says to my one-year-old daughter: You’ve been flirting with my husband all night.

Why is this an appropriate comment? I HATE IT!

My daughter smiles at EVERYONE. I’m pretty sure the dude in the shiny shirt and blingin’ gold chains got as many looks as your husband. And also the fork that she spent a good five minutes chatting with.

But I just keep walking. (I already got in a fight with a blue pickup truck this week. The sign clearly says: RIGHT LANE CLOSED. But he and fifteen other jerks keep going in the left lane until OH WOW I HAVE TO MERGE. LET’S ALL TAKE TURNS. Um, no. I’ve been waiting here for fifteen extra minutes because the cars in front of me are letting your friends cheat their way into the line. So like any good, grumpy, used-to-have-road-rage, driver, I ride the bumper of the car in front of me. And when the blue truck begins its ascent into my lane, I honk and gesture. Wildly. To the point that he stops. I go on. And the white van behind me? Spends a full minute reenacting the scene and laughing. I’m pretty sure that they were impressed with my moxie. Or afraid for my children. Who are like: WHY DID YOU HONK YOUR HORN? I patiently explained why. And my son said: You shouldn’t do that Mama. You should be happy. {Sigh} But it felt SO GOOD, sweetie!)

Yes, the old lady with giant dentures (seriously.) meant: YOUR DAUGHTER IS ADORABLE.

But the idea that it is somehow cute for my daughter to flirt with your husband now, but in seventeen years, you’d march over to my table and cuss her out for being a hussy seems like, I don’t know, A MIXED MESSAGE?

And the idea of my child making eyes at any grownup and especially at your SEVENTY YEAR OLD MAN is gross. YOU can make eyes at him. THAT’S AWESOME. It gives me HOPE. But my small child? That makes me want to poke your eyeliner eyes out.

I’m not saying that children are asexual lumps of clay. I understand that they are exploring their bodies and minds on every level from very early on. But flirting? Have any idea what to DO with their bodies and body language? NO.

In fact, I think that it irritates me so much because it feels like YOU are sexualizing my children. They clearly aren’t flirting. Are you flirting? Creepy lady in the fabulous dress?

And why is waving and smiling considered flirting anyway? What does that teach us? Our children? Don’t smile? Be mean unless you want to get in my pants? You must WANT SOMETHING if you are friendly?

Maybe I am over-thinking it. Maybe it’s just SOMETHING PEOPLE SAY.

Great! Just say it to that other kid. Because my kids are not flirting with you. And I’m happy to show you just how much they aren’t flirting by gesturing wildly. And possibly honking. Your face.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

25 thoughts on “The Next Person Who Says My Daughter Is Flirting With Him Will Be Punched

  1. I cannot stand this. People used to say this about my son “Oh, he’s such a flirt!” Ew. No, he is not. He is a baby. And he is smiling at you. How is that flirting? Please. Just stop.

  2. MY MOM says this. Even though I have told her — KIDS DON’T FLIRT. Even though I tell her it makes me uncomfortable. I bristle at it. Say, what a cute smile. What a lovely child. How darling she is.
    And don’t get me started with the people who don’t merge when they should. (Or the a^@*s who turn from the right left turn lane and just expect me to let them onto the entrance ramp.) I used to be a nice driver. Now I have to explain regularly why I talk to the other cars. Okay, really, the only change is the words I choose to say.

  3. NOT appropriate. But please remember the generation gap here. This poor lady meant it as a complement, and probably doesn’t even understand that, in THIS era, things are different.

  4. Ugh – I am remembering now why I used to worry about being friendly with guys. Women/girls are always having to worry about that kind of thing – that if they’re friendly then they’re leading men on. Why is friendliness from women sexual? This misconception starts early, as your case proves. Not having a daughter, I had no idea that people say this kind of thing. But as a mother of a boy I get the occasional joking threats from dads of girls – “Yah, if your boy comes anywhere near my girl….” They’re friends and they’re joking but, still, it bugs me. If one day my son wants to date their daughter, it’ll be because he genuinely likes her, not because he wants to get in her pants. Not every guy is a predator either. And most definitely not at age 6.

  5. Comments about kids “flirting” are not cool. Why do people think it’s ok to say it? To think that it is CUTE?! I don’t get it.

    But The Mother has a point… there is a HUGE generation gap. I’m sure granny only meant it as a compliment. Another reason why I don’t like old people. 😉

  6. People say a lot of things to be cute and coy and not everything works. As this case here may be.

    Specifically, though, I was laughing about the dinner at 5:30. We were there last Saturday and all we were surrounded by a sea of grey (as in hair). It does not bode well for our young and hip lifestyle. What happened to our lives? Oh right. Parenthood.

    Ugh.

    1. As an aside, and jumping in (late, I know!), I’m with Justine. What has become of us? I serve dinner every night at 5:00. The vultures (albeit they are little) are usually swirling in hunger. This is a problem for many reasons (and yes one is my so unhip lifestyle) but also that by bedtime I’m starving again. Hello, not good for the waste line!

  7. I get irritated every time someone says to my 9 month old “Oh, is that your girlfriend?” No, it’s his friend. They’ve been doing this since before he realized he had hands let alone genitals. Stop being all surprised about teen pregnancies when you’re giving my infant a relationship.

  8. Duly noted.

    I’m on the other side here…I’m the first to say, “Elizabeth is totally flirting with that fork!” as she gazes up through her lashes, batting them and smiling coyly at the silvery object of her affection.

    Now that I think about it, I might have cause to worry that she flirts with shiny things. Could this be a sign of upcoming rampant materialism? Will she move from forks to diamonds, thus needing “the talk”. You know…about diamond mine conditions, the artificially inflated costs of the clear chunks of coal and the amount of blood shed to produce glittery ring. I think I’ve just gone off on a tangent.

    Why is it that your posts inspire me to write comments that would be better served on my own blog as a stand alone post? Hmmm…I’m think I may need to start an “Inspired by Alex” tag.

  9. Or maybe she’s just hoping your daughter will grow up to be some sort of hussy like her. Misery loves company.

    Okay, seriously, she is probably like 9 out of 10 adults who are not connected to their own feelings and desires to be loved and shun others for acting upon them. A child desires to be loved and isn’t ashamed of it, to learn and find joy through interactions with others.

  10. Appropriate responses to the comment “You’ve been flirting with my husband all night.” made to a 1 year old.

    1. Oh, I’m sorry, my daughter only speaks French.
    2. Whatevs. You’re husband started it when he winked at her.
    3. Yes, we know. She starts sexhab on Monday.
    4. Impossible. My daughter is gay.
    5. *She’s* a *He*. Pink dresses aren’t just for girls, you know.
    6. Are you asking to take this outside? Lady, you’re going to break a hip.
    7. Oh, is he your husband? We thought he was your son, he looks so young.

    Because people and their stupid comments irritate me. And I’m often improperly filtered. True story.

  11. I agree that grownups sexualize kids. Just look at any fashion ad showing children. However…

    Have you considered the old lady may not have any sexual connotations with the word “flirt”? Maybe she just meant “cute attention seeking behavior”?

    Maybe it’s been a while since the old lady “got any” or maybe her husband has been caught doing something he shouldn’t have and she was just thinking of herself and her own insecurities (not that that’s a good reason to dump them on you or your little daughter).

    Shrug, take a deep breath, smile and walk away. NEXT!

  12. hmm, not sure the old lady is your biggest problem when it comes to sexualising your child, but am with guiltysquid, if only cause her suggestions are hilarious.

  13. Do you know I never thought about it like this, but what you say makes perfect sense. Why do we have a tendency to naturally do this? It’s automatic. I’ve been known to say that my boys are flirting when they are making cute eyes at others. Maybe that’s because it sounds for cootchy-coo than plain ‘ol being friendly. I don’t know. But you are right in that it sets them up way to early for pre-assigned roles and identities that are entirely inappropriate.

  14. This is completely hilarious and I have had the same feeling about the “flirting” comment before…it certainly could be a very innocent comment, but I also think it can say something about male/female interaction and how we view gender roles even from very early on in a child’s life.

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