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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.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    Drama Much?

    So, actor Josh Hutcherson totally ruined my Saturday evening. Well, ok, the evening already had a few counts against it. First, I was (and still am) totally sick. Second, it was supposed to have been a family work day, and although my husband and boys pitched in, my To Do list remained depressingly long.

    Saturday evening the boys watched a recent remake of Journey to the Center of the Earth, which they loved. When the movie was over, Monkey disappeared into the office to play on the computer, but I flipped through the bonus features. It seemed like a better alternative to getting up. And, well, my eyes were still open. This is how my youngest son came to watch a clip called “Being Josh,” in which a thirteen-year-old Josh Hutcherson takes a camera crew through a day in his life.

    Kid arrives at his own trailer with his dog.
    Kid goes to makeup.
    Kid has an awesome time filming an action scene.
    Kid plays with dog.
    Kid does school with cool and fun tutor.
    Kid plays football on movie lot.

    You get the idea. Now I respect Josh Hutcherson (Team Peeta!), and I think he’s a pretty decent actor. But he did not do me any favors by making the life of a child actor look like whoops and giggles!

    After we finished the feature, Chunky turned to me, blue eyes wide in his freckled face.

    “Mom, I’ve decided I want to be an actor.”

    Please, God, I’m sick. I don’t have the energy for this conversation.

    “Ok, honey, but acting is really hard work, and you have to love being on stage in front of people. You don’t even seem to enjoy the school music programs.”

    “That’s because I get stage fright. I only want to be an actor in movies.”

    “It doesn’t usually work that way. You have to start somewhere. You have to like to entertain people. You have to act in school plays and community theater.”

    “No, I want to be in movies, and I’ll tell the director not to let any people be around when we’re filming.”

    At least he has the ego for it.

    Ironically, I suggested children’s theater to Chunky about six months ago, secretly hoping for an outlet to channel Drama Child’s excess emotion. I tried to gently remind Chunky of this as his side of the conversation escalated into hysterics. He wept and wailed, stretched out on the couch with a pillow over his head.

    “Why do I have to have stage fright? Stage fright is ruining my life! I just want to be an actor, but I can’t because I don’t want people to see me.”

    God, did I mention that I feel like cold, crusty oatmeal?

    I launched into the “if you really want it, you have to work hard and overcome obstacles” speech. I told him he could pray and ask God to help him with the stage fright but that God doesn’t usually wave a magic wand. In all likelihood he’d have to work hard and trust God for courage. Why do they never hear the “you may not get what you want” part?

    “How long will it take for God to take away my stage fright?”

    “I don’t know, honey. Want to talk about how long it’s taking God to give mommy a book contract?”

    More histrionics. And Chunky continued his drama fit too. Thankfully, Monkey appeared providing Chunky with a new audience for his great tragedy. Sadly, Monkey was unmoved by the performance.

    We eventually got our little thespian calmed down and ready for bed. Yesterday he bounced up and gave me a big hug.

    “Mommy, I prayed for God to take away my stage fright and He did. I want to be in theater!”

    “That’s great, honey. Maybe now you could pray God will give mommy a contract.”

    Heaven knows the wailing on the couch isn’t working. And I refuse to hear the “you may not get what you want” part.

    Apparently the apple—while descending with a flourish worthy of a Newton re-enactment—does not fall far from the tree.

    *photo by weatherbox