“Mom,” Son says, eating his ham, egg and cheese at the counter before school. “Did Daddy tell you the secret?”
“What secret, honey?”
I’m at the sink, running water over strawberries, lopping off their green tops and placing them in mini Tupper wares for the lunchbox.
“The secret about how babies are born,” he says casually.
I give him my full attention.
Husband had mentioned something the previous night about a graphic picture of childbirth in the paper.
“I had to tell him!” he said.
“What did you say?”
“That babies come out the vagina.”
“Really?! How did he take it?”
“He asked what the Knicks’ score was.”
I consider Son at the counter. “Um, yeah, I know the secret.” Does he really get this? Cuz, uh, I would kinda know.
“But that’s not the kind of thing to talk to your friends about,” I continue. “Because their parents may not have told them yet. Or your sister. You have to be old enough to understand these things. A big kid like you.”
Maybe I’m not giving her enough credit, but I don’t think five year old Daughter is ready to hear the ugly truth.
“Right.” He returns his attention to the sports scores in the paper.
That evening, the kids and I are enjoying a rare moment of calm between dinner and bedtime.
Out of the blue, Son turns to daughter. “Did Daddy tell you?”
I raise my eyebrows and give him a penetrating stare. Do you really want to do this?
“No, Mom, it’s a good thing.”
“When Mommy and Daddy get mad at us, it’s because they LOVE US!” His eyes are wide. He smiles brightly. This is clearly the wildest thing he’s heard.
Wow, Husband is full of revealing truths these days.
“Really?” Daughter smiles, too.
“Yeah, It’s because they LOVE US.”
Well, jeez, we could have told them this years ago.
“We get mad at you when you don’t follow the rules,” I say. “And why do we have rules? To keep you and others safe. And…”
I seize their attention like a dog with a bone. This is a teaching moment! They’re listening! What’s the meaning of life?! I set off and circle far around the rules globe until I come to the land of grand declarations and statements you should remember for the rest of your life.
“So, there are three things you should always remember,” I sum up.
What are they? What should they be? I wing it.
Number One: Take care of yourself. Be safe.
Meaning, use good judgment, make smart choices. I don’t think they get the full gist of this one.
Number Two: Be kind and respect other people, starting with your parents.
And Number Three: Find something you love and do it well.
Husband has a good laugh at no. 3 later.
There. Speech over.
They’re wiggling, have been since about two words into my monologue.
“So, what are the three things?” I ask them.
Son stares at me for a moment.
“The only thing I’m going to remember,” he finally says, “Is that the reason you get mad at us is because you love us.”
Okay. Well, at least he’s moved off that other thing about the babies.