Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Birds and the Bees

It is springtime, and love is in the air here at Just Another Mama House. As with any obsession of Luke’s and Henry’s, it seems to be feeding on itself, careening faster and faster down this bird and bee covered hill. Frankly, I’m having a hard time keeping calm about it all, despite being the approachable, cool mom that I am.

It started in earnest last week with Luke telling me that a girl in his class was talking about lying in bed kissing boys. Luke and Henry and I discussed it at the park, and we came to the conclusion that this sort of kissing is for much, much older people. I thought we were all in agreement. But a few days later, I found Henry and his little friend, a boy nearly his age from next door, practicing “married kissing” under the table. Apparently, kissing becomes married kissing when heads are tilted.

Then, a few days after that, while I was reading bedtime stories to the boys, Luke asked, “Why do people have to be married to have kids?”

“Well, they don’t,” I said, “but usually people get married and then have babies.”

“Well, how do women have babies?” asked Luke.

“They grow them in their bellies!” yelled Henry.

“No, HOW do they start growing?” asked Luke.

Well, clearly Luke was asking me for information, and I guess that my policy has always been to answer these sorts of questions as clearly and as simply as possible. I have just never been tested on this policy quite so much.

“Well, sperm from a man and an egg from a woman join together and grow in the woman’s uterus and that becomes a baby,” I answered.

“Oh, okay. Goodnight,” said Luke.

I knew I was off the hook for the moment, but I anticipated more questions in the days to come. My friend offered to lend me a book on the subject, written for children from ages four and up, and so I accepted. I decided that I would bring the book home, review it, and then read it to Luke when and if I thought it was a good idea.

“What is that?” Luke asked as I tried to discreetly slip the book into the bottom of Henry’s stroller.

“Oh, just a book about how babies are made, like we were talking about the other day,” I said casually.

“Eww!” he said, perhaps for the benefit of my friend’s six-year-old daughter, on whom Luke seems to have a crush.

But the next morning, Luke asked me to read him the book, which I did. Henry listened, too. I figured that Henry is almost four, and that Luke would tell him about it anyway.

They whooped and laughed when I read the pages about male and female anatomy. Luckily, the book has a sense of humor, and the cartoon character hosts/narrators joke about how these words are funny.

Then, as we moved into how male and female bodies produce eggs and sperm, Luke said, “Oh! Now I see. You have to be grown up before your body will make the stuff that you need for a baby, right?”

BINGO! I thought.

“So wait,” said Luke, a look of horror crossing his face, “Do you have to cut open the penis to get some sperm out so you can put it in the woman?”

Aha. See, this is why I needed to go further in this explanation. The other night, when I gave him the mechanical, sex-free version of how babies are made, I knew it was too easy. I knew that it must be problematic. And this is the problem. His imagination will run wild, or rumors on the playground will fill in the gaps in his knowledge.

So we turned the page, and read about how adult men and women do something called “making love,” “sex,” or “having sex.”

“Really?” asked Luke, in shock. “Is everything in this book real?”

“Yes,” I answered, and read on.

Soon, they grew bored—somewhere during the page on how twins are formed—and we switched to a different book.

Later that day, Henry demanded that Craig read the book. Henry seemed to think that Craig needed the information. Also, both Luke and Henry are extra interested in boyfriends and girlfriends and getting married. Otherwise, though, they seem to be carrying on as usual. Frankly, I’m a little worried that one of them will say something about it while checking out at the grocery or during coffee hour at church. But then, it wouldn’t be the first time that one of them said something embarrassing or inappropriate. I guess it seems like it might be worse if it is about sex. I guess that is the price that one must pay for being an approachable, cool mom.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A New Post, Finally

I don’t know why I haven’t had anything to say lately. We came back from our trip about ten days ago—without further vomiting fun thanks to Dramamine—and it was straight into the boys on spring break. I always find it hard to transition back into hanging out with my kids all day long when I have been away from them for a while. I mean, I missed them, and the first hour or so with them was wonderful—all hugs and cuddles and Luke telling me, “You are the best mom in the world. And you look good!”—but after that it was straight back into their usual fighting and running around and whooping like maniacs. After moping around the house for a couple of days I finally got my act together and did some fun stuff with them for spring break, which helped. We had a cookie-making contest, which was a big hit. We also hung out at the park one day and talked about “lying in bed and kissing girls.” Apparently, someone at Luke’s school was talking about this, and now Luke and Henry are fascinated by the concept. In fact, after I felt that we had exhausted the subject and suggested that we leave, Luke said, “No, let’s just sit in the sunshine and talk about this more.”

A lot of my mental energy these days is also going towards thinking about buying a house. I guess I haven’t made this announcement officially, although I have told just about everyone I know (thus, just about everyone who reads this blog) the news: Craig has a tenure track job starting this fall as a math professor at a small university in the town north of us. So now we are freaking out a little bit about buying a house. First of all, we don’t have a lot of money. But there’s the tax credit, and the amazing house prices. And then, if we do buy a house, we are considering three options: staying here, moving to the town where Craig will work, or moving to the country. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, and I have been feeling a little paralyzed by this huge decision. I think we have almost decided to stay here, but the disparity between the type of house we can afford here versus the type of house we can afford there is a little galling.

I don’t have any kind of good ending for this rambling post, but here’s something scary that happened this morning. Mara and I went to the gym and to Target, leaving Henry home with Craig. I had woken Craig and he was going to get up, and I left with Henry playing in the living room. Apparently, Craig fell back asleep and when he woke up, he couldn’t find Henry. He went outside and Henry was trying to get the garage opened so he could get his bike and “Find Mom and Aunt Mara.” Craig asked where he was planning to look, and he said at the gym, which is over a mile away and across many busy streets. I think I need to deadbolt the door when I leave next time.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Have I ever mentioned on this blog a wonderful trait that I have developed over the last ten years while on airplanes? I haven’t? I can’t imagine why! You see, I have become an expert barfer while traveling by air.

I have always suffered from motion sickness in cars, on boats, in airplanes, on fair rides, but it wasn’t until one flight about ten years ago that I actually vomited. Let me tell you, there are good times to be had while barfing in a plastic bag in a confined space with lots of strangers. Big fun.

I seem to be getting better at vomiting on planes as the years progress. Until recently, it has only been on maybe one flight out of five that I have actually gotten sick, but I have recently stepped up my game.

You see, Craig and I are on a lovely getaway to Florida—the first real vacation we have taken together, ever, save visiting family and the odd night away here or there. And to start it off right, I vomited on both of our flights here. It was one big barf-o-rama.

The funny thing with vomiting on an airplane, for me, is that I will feel horrible and be barfing my guts out, and then the plane will level off and the turbulence will end, and I be just fine—elated, even. It is a little schizophrenic feeling, to tell you the truth.

In my better moments, I was thinking about all of the wonderful things about vomiting on the airplane. Yes, I’m an optimist like that. I could eat another breakfast when we landed! Another whole bonus meal! And I could write a funny blog post about it!

Of course, in my bad moments I was hunched over a plastic bag in the corner of an airplane, trying to vomit quietly and swearing that I would never, ever, ever fly again.

But here I am writing my blog post.