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    Sunday, September 23, 2012

    Adventures in Accidental Parenting

    Parents, does it always happen this way? One minute you’re having an innocent spaghetti dinner with the family and the next you’re in a full-on birds and bees discussion. And then, as if to prove a point, your box turtles start going at it in the next room.

    It wasn’t the first time one of the boys asked us about the meaning of a dirty word. They’ve sort of become fascinated with curses. They’re not swearing, although before he knew any better, Chunky cursed the eternal future of his math homework. Who could blame him?

    But lately they’ve been asking, “What does the bad S word mean?” “What does the bad B word mean?” For the most part we’ve offered satisfactory explanations, but not so with the F word.

    My husband managed to delay the first F word conversation by answering our 11-year-old with another question. “Do you like it when there's kissing on a show you're watching?”

    Monkey: NO!!!

    Kory: Then you don’t want to know anything more.

    But it came up again tonight, and we weren’t able to redirect. Finally I said, “It has to do with the act of making babies.”

    Monkey: OH! (confused expression) Like if the mom has a baby and throws it away?

    Me: No.

    Monkey: Oh. Is it when the mom drinks alcohol and the baby gets infected?

    Me: No. It’s the making the baby part.

    Monkey: OOOOHHHH!

    We could tell something clicked in his brain. Kory was quick to interject. “If you know what it is, you don’t need to say anything more about it in front of your brother.”

    Monkey: Oh, he already knows. Our friend told us. It’s when moms and dads do this. (He pressed the heels of his hands together.)

    Kory and I simply nodded then had the following telepathic conversation.

    Should we be angry?

    I don’t know.

    I’m kinda relieved. Aren’t you?

    I guess so.

    About that time the turtle cage started rattling. It’s pretty unmistakable when Roger gets a bee under his shell. Molly runs. He chases. The turtle habitat is big, but not that big. He always catches her.

    The boys went to see what all the noise was about. Without being too graphic, you should know that turtles start out in pretty much the same position most animals do. But as things, um, progress the male falls backward, keeping his claws attached to the female's shell, and just hangs there, belly up like a sun-bather. But this time Molly had somehow gotten flipped on her back. She had her arms, legs and head tucked tight in her shell and was playing dead for all it was worth. Roger was desperately attempting to flip her right side up. Eventually he was successful but, well, how do I say this delicately? He got the wrong end. And that didn’t stop him. By this time our explanation of “wrestling” pretty much wouldn’t fly.

    Monkey, with apprehension in his voice: I think Roger is attracted to Molly.

    Chunky: Why doesn’t she get out from under him?

    Me: Women are patient.

    We herded the boys back into the dining room, but the ruckus from the habitat proved a bit distracting.

    I can only imagine it’s very frustrating to be a male box turtle. First of all, your shell is in the way and her shell is in the way. Neither of you is exactly physically accommodating. She is unwilling. And pretty speedy when she wants to get away. And, well, you’re too stupid to know which end is the right one.

    Thankfully, Kory had reset the timer on their heat lamp to go off earlier. (It’s time for horny box turtles to turn their thoughts to hibernation.) When the light switched off, the mood was gone. For Roger anyway. I’m afraid Molly’s switch was never flipped to begin with.

    And, so, because of profanity, an over-eager friend, and a couple of turtles, we’ve had our first official discussion about sex. All I can say is, thank goodness the rabbit is single.


    kersley.fitz said...

    Ohhh, noooo. Which friend?

    Niki said...

    Oh my word! I laughed so hard at this. I wish I had recorded the first time we had that discussion at our house.

    Evangeline Denmark said...

    Right, Niki, because who doesn't want to relive that awkwardness?

    Beth K. Vogt said...

    No matter how much we prepare for The Talk, parents are never prepared, you know? There's always the "kid factor" -- how much they already know (thank you, friends-who-think-they-know-so-much), and the "You've got to be kidding me!?" factor, and the embarrassment.
    And ours.

    And now you've added the whole turtle problem.

    Jennifer Major said...

    AAAHAHAHAHA!! POor you!1 THANKfully, our 18,14 and 9 year old boys play hockey. And the older two know every swear word known to the English speaking world, and because we're Canadian, half the French ones too. But the older boys also know that ONE WRONG WORD from their lips will mean the end of life as they know it. They don't swear, they don't want to, they hate the sound of it.
    And they know where babies come from too. Well the 9 year old doesn't, he still believes in Santa.
    And the 21 year old daughter lives with a creep and thought she was pregnant last summer, so the older boys know about the whole baby thing is covered too.

    Yay me.

    Remind me to NEVER get box turtles.

    Debbie Maxwell Allen said...

    I needed a laugh this morning, just not this hard (I whacked out my neck at the SCBWI conference, and sudden jerking is quite painful). Thanks for the trip down memory lane!


    Jan Parrish said...

    I love those spontaneous conversations. As if on cue, the turtles demonstrated and since they are turtles, not terribly graphic. <3

    Daphne said...

    My parental education regarding the way things actually work wasn't much better than the way that Monkey described it with the heels of his hands. I believe the phrase was, "You know how a tampon works? It's like that." Shudder.

    Daphne said...

    To be specific, that was the talk I was given, not a talk I have given. Mine are still too young.

    Shannon Lawrence said...

    Kids were made to put us in awkward positions. I'm pretty sure, anyway. It would appear turtles are, as well. Not only was this amusing, but you made me terribly glad I'm not a box turtle...

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse