By Lauri Fleischmann Stern
I used to think that grinding was something one did to coffee beans; that is, until my daughter entered the party circuit this year.
A few years ago we completed a remodeling project that left my husband and I with an unusually large, bedroom closet. Aside from occasionally accommodating a child in a sleeping bag, the space more often provides my family with a safe haven for conversations of all kinds. My husband and I will sit and chat in the closet, our son will come to the closet to tell us about his day and, once in a while, our daughter will strike up a conversation when she finds one of us alone in the closet. It’s a protected and safe space that is free from noise and noisy siblings.
One particular night my daughter sheepishly entered my closet as I was changing from my daytime clothes into my nightly uniform of boxers and a tank top. I had just put my clothes into the hamper when she announced she had something to tell me. I could tell by the look on her face that the “something” weighed heavily on her mind. I took my usual seat on the floor in front of my shoe shelves, and she sat down opposite me, in front of her dad’s laundry hamper.
“I’ve been wanting to tell you this, but I was too afraid to say anything.”
Ignoring the pit in my stomach and my racing heart, I immediately went into Mom Mode and I put on my most understanding and non-judgmental face.
“Well, see, you know the party two weeks ago?”
“Uh-huh,” I said calmly.
“Well, a few of us played Truth or Dare.”
“Ok,” I said in a measured voice.
“Well, so, someone dared me to kiss Eli, and, so, I did.”
She looked down as she spoke, yet she seemed relieved for confessing what she thought was a major sin. I didn’t miss a beat and asked what I thought was a completely logical question:
“A kiss or a KISS?”
From what I understood, the teens just played games of Spin the Bottle, Truth or Dare or danced around. So began a conversation about things that happen at parties. We talked about a person’s reputation and how easily it could be damaged. And, that’s when she said,
“Mom, I mean geez. It”s not like we’re back there grinding* or anything!”
“You mean like MTV-spring-break grinding?” I stammered.
“Well, I guess, I mean, only the really bad people or the ones from out-of-town do that. But, honestly, what’s the big deal about grinding anyway? Parents get so worked up about it.”
This conversation was heading in an unanticipated direction. I seized the opportunity.
“From what you just told me, you think that people who grind are bad. But, I can also hear from your tone that you don’t think it’s a big deal. Are you wondering what it’s like or have you already done it?”
“Well, I haven’t done it, but I guess I would, I guess, you know, at some point.”
Visions of my sweet, innocent daughter grinding on the leg of some guy popped in my mind. She knew by the look on my face that “this” was going to be a long one. She settled in as I imparted my infinite wisdom on the pitfalls of grinding.
“You should be dancing with someone face-to-face; you want the nervousness of facing this person across from you: feeling the weight of his hands on your waist, making eye contact, getting butterflies in your stomach. I wish for you to experience all of that stuff. Grinding is different. And all of these kids who are grinding just don’t understand that it sends a message.”
“What do you mean?”
“When you turn around and grind with a boy, you’re basically saying that you don’t care enough about your self-esteem to face your partner. You see this on TV and in movies, and then you want to copy it without understanding the implications and how others can misinterpret your actions. I want you to experience all of the uncertainty, questions, and intense emotions that go with facing that person. Grinding compromises your relationships and your reputation. You understand, right?”
“Yes, Mom, I got it a while ago. Really, I get it,” she said, smiling.
She stood up to go, and I swore that she looked like she had grown an inch taller. I hugged her, she left, I silently thanked my contractor for building such a crazy, big closet and I prayed that my open and honest conversations could continue with her and my other children in the years to come.
DEFINITION OF GRINDING
It is difficult to find a definition that does not make adults cringe, so we are going out on a limb and giving both the adult definition and the adolescent definition. Each definition reflects the language barrier between teens and parents.
- Merriam-Webster’s On-Line dictionary defines grinding: to rotate the hips in an erotic manner.
- Urban Dictionary defines grinding as when a female and/or male places their hindquarters in the general area of a male’s scrotem and then shakes vigorously.