Oh, the birds and the bees.
I knew the day was coming - in the not-so-distant future - when my young son would start asking more detailed questions his parents weren’t quite prepared to answer.
But the universe is really screwing with you when that day comes not while in a library, surrounded by a dozen pamphlets, three DVDs and two books on human reproduction, along with your junior high school health teacher.
It comes at dinner. On a Tuesday. While your mouth is stuffed to the gills with loaded mashed potatoes.
The projectile distance of such a food is really quite mind-boggling. Why wasn’t I eating something that would be expunged with a little less force?
Like, say, a carrot?
....Well, I friggin’ know why.
The day I choose carrots over potatoes is the day they put me into the cold hard ground.
Probably because I had a coronary due to too many potatoes.
However, I digress.
Back to the birds and the bees.
“Mom, I don’t understand how a baby can look like the daddy,” our 8-year-old son announced at dinner one evening.
“Hmmmm?” was the only response I could muster with a mouth full of the aforementioned mashed potatoes. Priorities? Why, yes, I have them.
“You know,” he continued, “because the baby comes out of the mommy, so it has all her stuff. So how can a baby look like the daddy since he doesn’t give any of his stuff?”
OK. Be cool. No need to panic.
These little observations have popped up now and then over the years. Best to just handle them with answers suited to his age, right?
Just keep it simple until the time comes to really hit him with all the good stuff. After all, that’s what his college graduation is for, right?
I swallowed, buying myself a little time before whipping up something amazingly astute that would a) satisfy his third-grader mentality and b) not lead to a lunch table discussion at school that would lead to c) a call from the principal.
I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Well, you see, the dad does give stuff to help make the baby.”
And...I left it at that.
Question answered. Problem solved.
Where are the mashed potatoes?
But just as I shoveled in another huge bite, my son attempted to expand upon my oh-so-unhelpful answer.
“Oh, wait!” he hollered in excitement, holding up one index finger in the universal sign for I Got It, “It’s his saliva!”
...And that’s when I spewed potatoes.
All. Over. The. Table.
As if that minor indignity wasn’t enough, I made the mistake of trying to hold in my laughter.
Because the experts said no matter what comes out of their little mouths, you must not laugh, possibly destroying any future desire to come to you with their questions about sex, instead relying on the weird guy named Dave who stands outside the hardware store asking people to feel his tinfoil hat.
So, yes, I tried very, very, very, very hard not to laugh.
And what did I get in return for my friggin’ sensitivity?
I peed my pants.
But that is NOT MY FAULT.
That’s what 24 hours of hard labor does, my friend. Do not judge unless you’ve sat in the stirrups, so to speak.
Anyway, there I was. Wiping mashed potatoes from my face and sitting in my own pee.
Not really my best moment.
So I decided it was time to salvage a little piece of the situation.
“No,” I shook my head solemnly, “it’s not his saliva.”
I briefly explained how a mom provides the egg and the dad provides a little something called sperm. Mix up the two and - voila! - a baby comes out of the mom nine months later.
Then I sat back and silently began to pray that he wouldn’t ask how the egg and the sperm...uh...well...you know...get together.
After a moment of silence, he shook his head and said, “I get it.”
OK, let’s not delude ourselves. He doesn’t “get it.”
There are fraternity guys and members of Congress who still don’t “get it.”
But at least we gave it a try.
And tomorrow I’m off to the library to find those pamphlets, books and DVDs. And - fingers crossed - my former junior high school health teacher.
I bet she’s on Facebook.