I admit I occasionally (okay, always) over-explain things to my children. However, after being mothered by a woman whose one and only comment to me on the subject of sex was, “It only takes once,” I prefer to err on the side of providing too much information. I mean, really, would it have killed her to at least define “it”? Or maybe finish the sentence with something like “ ... to get pregnant, change your life, catch a disease, ruin your reputation?” I don’t know, something better than the equivalent of a Sex Ed Mad Libs with none of the blanks filled in?
Of course, I’m too hard on her. After all, this is a woman who taught my brother and me that our bodies have “po pos” (me) and “tee tee things” (him). Any expectation that she possessed the capability of saying the words “sex” or “intercourse” is obviously unreasonable. You can imagine my mother’s distress at the following exchange that occurred a few years ago between her and my recently potty-trained daughter:
My mom (always one for a clean po po) seeing my daughter exit the bathroom: “Did you wipe your bottom?”
My daughter with a tiny wrinkled brow: “No, I wiped my vulva.”
My daughter upon seeing my mother’s face and mistaking my mom’s horror for misunderstanding, “Vulvas are on the outside and vaginas are on the inside.”
My mother’s continued silence and slackened jaw then elicited the grand finale of:
“You know, your vagina? Where your babies come out?”
My mother, who is now waaaaay past responding to my daughter, turns to me and says, “You teach her that to bother me!”
Me, as deadpan as I can muster: “Yes, mom … I had children for the specific purpose of raising them in such a way as to torture you.”
Now, I honestly do not teach my children things for the sole purpose of bothering my mom. That would be sadistic and exploitative of my children. However, I cannot deny that I do get more than just a little guilty pleasure when my children make my mom uncomfortable by matter-a-factly discussing subjects that were laden with shame in my mom’s house when I was growing up.
My children are now eleven and eight, and although I do realize their sexuality is not fully developed, I see no signs that either of them will be gay. My mom has dodged an enormous bullet here. I confess I have a teeny-tiny fantasy that involves me calling my mom and explaining to her that one of my children will be having a destination wedding in California because they aren’t allowed to legally marry their betrothed in Texas. All indications are, this will remain a fantasy.
However, there is one bit of wedding drama hope left, thanks to my fabulous son. This past spring, I suspected he had a crush on a girl in his class named Autumn. Our family is new to the school this year and Autumn doesn’t live in our part of the neighborhood so I knew nothing about her. One morning in carpool, just before my son’s eleventh birthday party invitations were due to be sent out, he says from the back seat:
“Hey, there’s Autumn!”
Me, rubbernecking to get a good look: “Where? The girl in blue?”
Him: “No, the other one.”
Okay … there were lots more than just ONE other one.
Me: “The one in the red shirt?”
Him: “No, the one in the pink.”
Me: “Which one in pink?”
Him, with a huge eye-roll: “Mom! The one with the pink pants and the braids.”
Braids? Plural? I don’t see a girl with even one braid … ohhh, wait …
Me, realizing I had failed to see the beautiful little black girl in pink pants and a white shirt: “Oh, I didn’t see her at first. She looks nice.”
Him: “She is.”
Me, silently praying the answer to this question will be yes: “Are you inviting her to your birthday party?”
Him: “No, I don’t think so.”
Damn … and my mom dodges another bullet. Oh well, there is always the wedding.