That's the refrain that I hear both at work and in the swirl of media when a child, or a group of children, are caught doing something that shows up on my teacher's radar as naughty, but because they're kids, we expect a little bit of mischief. Hence the phrase: "Kids will be kids." Several reports about the first grader in Aurora, Colorado who was suspended for three days for singing "I'm Sexy and I Know It" received some of that chagrined attention. At first blush, depending who you are, you can look at that and find the punishment ridiculous. The kid was singing? So what? Okay, so it was a little racy for a six-year-old, but it's not like he was waving his backside in her face as he did it. Oh? It was? And it was the second time this kid had been in trouble for singing the same song to the same girl?
Kids will be kids. His mother promised to "to sit with him and see if he understands exactly what the song means." It seems to me that this child has already ascertained certain elements of the lyrical complexity of this tune. He may have learned it on the playground. Or at home. You know how kids are these days. I don't. If he had been singing something from Cole Porter, would it have been as objectionable? "You'd Be So Easy To Love," for example. Admirably precocious, but if it included the waving of his private parts, still objectionable. He wouldn't even need to sing. Booty-shaking as a second offense on the same girl seems sufficient to me.
He's only six. Kids will be kids. And adults will be adults. It is the grown-ups job to start making clear distinctions in a world full of ambiguity. I had to talk to a mother who had sent her third grade daughter to school in a T-shirt that promoted the group whose song that first grader was singing back in Colorado: LMFAO. Just five letters. What's so objectionable about that? I explained to the mother what those letters stood for, and her initial stance wavered a bit. Especially when I asked her daughter if she knew what those letters stood for. After a moment, she answered "yes." Nobody got suspended, but that shirt hasn't been back to school since.
It's a fast-moving world, and anybody who works with kids owes it to them the opportunity to test the boundaries. That's what kids do. They also need to remember what six-year-old boys and girls need. We don't need a bunch of little adults. We need to let kids be kids for as long as they can get away with it.