Recently, the kids and I had lunch in a restaurant before visiting my grandmother. The area, apparently, is inhabited solely by senior citizens, as I was the only adult in the packed restaurant who could not order off the “over 65” menu. It had been a long drive and a long day, I was worried about my grandmother’s health, and we had a long drive ahead of us after our visit.
Princess and Caveman were being relatively well behaved. Caveman had just opted to be put into a high chair, despite the fact that he does not need one, because it was going to be his pirate ship. Princess was playing a game she made up involving sugar packets. Around us, silver-haired patrons lunched and quietly conversed.
Suddenly, Caveman began to shout: “AAAHHHH! AAAAHHHH! MY PENIS! MY PENIS! IT’S GROWING! IT’S GROWING, MOMMY!”
I had a moment of mortified panic when I didn’t know what to do. I don’t know if it really was growing or not, but I do know that little old ladies throughout the restaurant turned and stared while I tried to calm him down. In true almost-three style, Caveman lost interest in his growing member and resumed his spaceman/pirate game. I tried to collect myself while gulping iced tea. Fortunately, Princess was not paying any attention or an entire conversation about boy parts and why they grow would have resulted, and would probably have been recounted for my conservative grandmother.
I knew, of course, that things like this would happen. I guess I just assumed that I’d be prepared to deal with them as they arose, so to speak. I felt like this incident came out of nowhere and tackled me when I wasn’t ready. I mean, for Pete’s sake, couldn’t he have had this moment at home, or at least when his father was there?
When I think about it, every tricky question or incident with my kids has happened before I was ready, usually at an inopportune time. Princess wants to know how the baby gets out of the mommy’s tummy? It’s 8 a.m., we’re in the car, and I haven’t had any coffee. What happens to people when they die? We’re on the way to pre-school. These ninja questions come from nowhere, knock you off balance, and leave you feeling like the biggest idiot on the planet. By the time you figure out what you SHOULD have said, your child is no longer interested in the topic and doesn’t listen to your carefully thought-out explanations.
The only defense is to think of every possible question and how you will answer it in advance. Or you could try Hubby’s tactic. Whenever Princess or Caveman overhear something they shouldn’t or ask a question he’s not prepared to answer, he barks “Count to a million!” By the time they get to five, they’ve usually forgotten what they wanted to ask.
It probably won’t win any parenting awards, but it is effective.