Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Age-Appropriate Answers

Let me tell you a true story, except for the names; I'm changing those to suit my fancy and to protect the mean innocent.

I was twenty years old when I was pregnant with my third child. (go ahead. judge me. I deserve it. I was too young to have even one, let alone three children. later on, when I was twenty-two, I had a fourth child. stupid. stupid. stupid.)
All of my children have the same freeloader for a father (I like to call him Earl). I'm not proud of this fact. I'm just throwing that in because it's sort of crucial to the story I'm telling.

When I was about seven months along with my third child, I was sticking all the way out to here, so there wasn't much hiding it from any of my "tsk tsk"ing neighbors or my "Oh Jeez, again?" coworkers, because pretty much anybody who could see me knew that I was pregnant.

My three young foster brothers, for instance, were aware that I was about to spew forth yet another stinkmonster into the world. Our family easily populates half the Earth. We are amazing breeders. We found something we really know how to do and we just kept on doing it. Some of us are still doing it. We are relentless.

Anyway, one afternoon, when I was preggers with the third, I was at my mom's house, keeping an eye on my three young foster brothers who were 11, 10 and 9 years old at the time. (actually, I should tell you that these foster brothers are actually my biological cousins and that they are natural brothers to one another having two half-siblings on their mother's side, which goes to support my theory about populating half the world.)

Back to the story- I was watching the fosters and taking advantage of the laundry facilities all at the same time. I was in the laundry room, just off the dining room and the oldest boy, uh, Jethro, was sitting at the table having a snack and watching me fold clothes. My mom was at work and expected me to run the household according to her strict design until her return later that evening. Basically, I was to keep the boys from murdering one another or trashing the house. I had a lot of confidence in myself that I could do this.

My two oldest were babies at the time, and so they were having an afternoon nap. The other two fosters, Jasper and Judah were playing in their room. I could hear them "fighting" with swords, but there didn't seem to be any actual bloodshed, so all was well. I continued to fold clothes.

Jethro eyeballed me and my humongous belly as I pulled laundry out of the dryer.

"How'd that baby get in there?" he asked, out of the blue. It threw me just for a moment, but this was not an uncommon question, and I had read all the parenting books. I knew that I was supposed to give age-appropriate answers and never divulge more information than the child actually asks. Short simple answers always worked best. Or at least they had in the past.

"Well, moms and dads make the baby and it grows inside the mom until it's born," I answered. He was eleven. Most eleven-year-olds know this. I felt safe giving this answer.

"But how did it get in there?" he asked again. I gave him the once over and checked the clock on the wall. It was nowhere near time for my mom to come home.

I snapped a towel and folded it twice. "Well, the dad puts the baby in there." I turned away from him toward the washer, as if to signal that the conversation was over. But it wasn't.

"But how does he do it? Where does he put it in?"

My shoulders slumped in defeat as I sighed heavily into the empty well of the washer. I was remembering all the way back to when I was eleven and thinking why doesn't he know this? By the time I was eleven, I knew where babies came from. I had seen dogs and cats and cows and hogs and even chickens going after it. I had witnessed kittens and puppies being born. I had even watched out the kitchen window when the vet came to help our Shetland pony give birth. I knew about the adulterous birds and those fickle bees.

"Well, Jethro, the dad and the mom have to like each other a whole lot, and when they get together to show how much they like each other, they make a baby."

He thought about that for a while, chewing on his snack with great intensity. When he took a second bite, I thought I was in the clear. Yippee.

But no.

"I need to know how that happens," he demanded, as if I'm holding out on him, and this forbidden knowledge will somehow help him become supreme ruler of all things Jethro. "You need to tell me where he puts the baby. How does it get in there?" He forced those last two words out so hard, I thought his teeth would pop out.

I looked at my brother, gnawed on my lip as I thought about it for a second, and then just blurted it out, as if it would be more painless if I just got it out in the open in one swift movement. Like ripping off a bandaid, right? After all the kid was ELEVEN! He should have already known this!

"Jethro, you have to have sex to make a baby." There. I'd said it. There was no taking it back.

You may have realized by now that I am not exactly a good decision maker. It doesn't matter how thoroughly or how briefly I think a thing through, I will inevitably arrive at the completely wrong decision, no matter what. As always, I had made the wrong decision in telling my young brother how it is that babies are made.

His big with disbelief...and the look on his face as he sorted it out in his head...ugh. He jumped up from his chair, straight as a board with the shock, the horror of this knowledge. My knees gave out for a second when I realized there was no fixing this. What was done was done. Can't take it back.

Jethro shot around the corner to the bedroom where his brothers, his younger brothers were playing and I heard a muffled, desperate purging of words spill from Jethro's mouth and into Jasper and Judah's ears. A brief moment of silence overtook the house. I imagined this was the moment of clarity that some people have when everything comes together to form a perfect picture in their minds. I didn't want to think what my little brothers were picturing just then. In unison, all three boys began to moan with denial. They made their way back into the kitchen to confront me about my carnal sins.

Tragically, there was no bottomless pit handy into which I could throw myself.

"Is it true? Is it true?" Jasper asked, desperate for me to deny these accusations. "Do you have to have sex to make a baby?"

There I stood before the judge and jury made up of my three poor, sheltered brothers who didn't even know enough of the world to understand about something as simple and primal as sex. In the back of my mind, I was trying to form a defense for my mother for when she came home and realized I'd corrupted her precious children for life. If I could word it just right, I was pretty sure I could turn it around and make it seem like her fault.

"Yes, you have to have sex to make a baby," I told the boys. No sense in changing the story now. The damage was done. Their eyes widened and the "Nu-uh"s and the "No WAY"s overpowered the room. I could barely hear myself whimper with self-loathing. Judah's moment of clarity arrived just then. I could almost see the thoughts form in his head.

"That means you had sex!" he yelled, pointing his finger right at my swollen tummy! I am sure I turned bright red.

"EEEEWWWW!" Jethro moaned, "with EARL!!!"

"THREE TIMES!" Jasper realized, holding his first three fingers up to make sure that everybody in the room knew me for the shameful fornicator I was.

"Yup," I admitted and turned back to the laundry. I didn't want to talk about it further, but you can bet I heard about it later from my mom.

I don't know why she was so upset. Nobody murdered anybody else, and the house looked really nice when she got home.


  1. three times! hehehe...
    wonderfully written, funny as hell!

  2. "EEEEWWWW!" Jethro moaned, "with EARL!!!"

    I don't know if it was funny at the time, but you sure made it entertaining in the retelling. If you have to tell kids, this is the way forward.

  3. Haha, very funny Nessa. Now you've mentioned it, I never had that conversation with my kids - but then they are girls. Not sure dad talks about sex to daughters, that's a mum job I think. I can’t remember what I thought about my mum and dad having sex when I was younger, but I did hear them at it about six years ago, when I had to move in for a couple of months. I’m still seeing a therapist now.

  4. If it's wrong of me to have laughed uproariously at this, I don't want to be right...

    Although, if it's of any comfort, I traumatized my daughter when describing where babies came from once. The pharse knocking boots might've been used. But she started it, what with talking about kissing mutherfuckingboys in front of me.

  5. Hehe, funny story. Nothing too be upset about. Easiest to tell the truth, straight forward >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  6. I had the "talk" with Oldest last year (he's 11 now) and he said..

    "Why did you tell me that?"
    "Becasue you asked."
    "Yeah. But I didn't think it would be so gross."

  7. id- looking back, I have a hard time admitting it was at least four times.

    light- They're smart boys. They made that connection pretty quick.

    Dicky- The only things dad's should tell they're girls about sex is that it's always on EVERY man's mind. (that's traumatizing enough.)

    Robbie- yep, that's how that talk started with my daughter, too. The talk with my boys went much differently.

    Cold- that's not what my mom said.

    Julianna- I bet that put your heart at ease just a little bit.

  8. HA!

    I think I learned about it in school, although I honestly don't recall being too horrified by it. I figured whatever sex was, it was a long way off. Kinda like parachuting out of an airplane. It's not the jump that kills you, it's that sudden stop.

    Just think, Nessa. Your words may have acted in some way as birth control. :-)


  9. hahaha....yeah best tell it to em straight up i did the right thing...why lie to kids i say...
    we got given a book called 'whats happening to me?' and i think thats how i figured it out haha....i still remember the cartoon pic of the boy standin on the diving board with a roaring roger and an old lady in the pool staring at him, eyes poking out like organ stops hahaha...

  10. It's not often that I don't have anything to say, but yeah, I don't. This was hilarious, though.

  11. Pearl- I'm with you. I was never horrified by it.

    Dan- we got the "Letters Between Best Friends" pamphlet. For the longest time, I thought a uterus was a pouch like a kangaroo's and I was scared, because I didn't seem to have one.

    Elliot- hay, thanks for stopping by. I've been to your blogs as well, and I just might be back over there sometime. I love seeing new faces.