As a parent it’s our job to keep them safe, fed, warm, clothed, and when they are young, entertained. But, we also have the heavy responsibility of their education. Education in everything. Yes, we need to read to them, teach them the alphabet and how to count to 20. We teach them how to speak, help them first sit, then crawl, then walk. Which, as most parents find out, we later regret, what with the back talking and the running wherever they go behavior.
But, we also have to teach them about stuff that we are uncomfortable talking about. Death, for instance, is a really difficult subject. Discussing illnesses that leave people looking, talking, and acting different than what they are used to seeing can be difficult conversations. And then there’s the differences in what mommy looks like and what daddy looks like. That conversation has left many a parent red faced and sometimes speechless, I am sure.
I have seven kids. They range in age from 19 to 7 months. So, I’ve had these ‘body part differentiation’ conversations before. I’ve been there, done that. I’m a seasoned mom. I got this.
Or so I thought.
A couple days ago my little ones were watching the animated Mr. Bean show. Now, most times this show is just fine for my kids to watch. There is nothing ‘bad’ about this show. There are, however, a couple of shows that have a woman who is curvaceous and blessed, if you get what I mean.
I was in the kitchen doing the dishes when my two year old son yelled at me from the living room, “Mom, that girl has boobs like you! Like all girls!”
I stepped in to the living room, avoiding eye contact with him and pretending to dry my hands with a hand towel.
“Um, yes, well, all girls do have boobs.” I stuttered out then quickly went back to my sanctuary in the kitchen.
I foolishly thought this would be the end of it.
Then, he quickly said, “I want to tickle those boobs!” And with that he fell back into the chair he was sitting in and belly laughed.
I stepped back into the living room, trying desperately and failing miserably to control my laughter, and assured him that boobs were not for tickling. And then I went back to my sanctuary for it was my turn to belly laugh.
Somewhere along the road between my teenage son, who is 16, and the birth of my four year old daughter I got soft. No longer do these conversations come easy. Gone are the days when I looked forward to deep discussions and question and answer sessions with my kids. No, I’ve turned a corner. I don’t know exactly when or why.
What I do know is that my little ones need me just as much as my older ones did and I really need to get over myself and be able to have these conversations without wanting to run out of the house screaming.
Clearly I have a boob man in the making. And I’m sure there are more awkward conversations to come.
If you find yourself suddenly in the middle of an awkward conversation that you may or may not be surprised by the best thing to do is to keep your cool. Assessing the content at hand and how much to divulge are your next steps. And then assuring your child they can always come to you with questions or concerns they have is essential when you are wrapping up your discussion.
Don’t get angry about their curiosity. It’s perfectly natural. Handling these types of conversations, for parents, however, isn’t. Choose your words wisely.
Just be honest, but, be really careful to not divulge too much information that your child isn’t ready for. It’s okay to say, “I know you have a lot more questions and I will answer them. However, there’s some information you just aren’t ready for yet, you won’t understand it if I tell it to you now. As you grow and have questions let’s talk and I will let you know what questions I can answer and what questions will have to wait.
Childhood is bulging at the seams with new information and new realizations every day. Help them along as best you can.
And pray a lot!