Monday, November 26, 2007

A Vagina by Any Other Name...

Sean is almost six. About a year ago, as he became much more keenly and innocently interested in the physical differences between girls and boys, he said,

"So boys have penises and girls have girl penises?"

"Well, girl parts are called 'vaginas'", I told him. He nodded, thinking.

A few days later he said something about penises again while talking to his brother. "And girls have hamginas."

Tonight, though, we moved a step beyond:

Me: "Nolan, do you need to go potty before you go to bed?"

Nolan: "No! Ninjas don't have peepees!"

Sean: "You mean Ninjas do have penises, Nolan. They just don't need to pee, right?"

Nolan: "Yeah! And I'm a Ninja!" [insert a three-year-old's martial arts sound effects here]

Sean: "See, Mommy? Boy Ninjas have penises, and girl Ninjas have highnesses."



Tuesday, November 20, 2007

God is Probably an Old Lady

Most mornings find me zipping up to the curb outside the kids' school and hustling my children out of the car for another day of three R's and snacks aplenty. Occasionally Ian helps out with this part of the daily routine, which is a sweet relief from the usual morning rush. But frenzied schedules notwithstanding, I enjoy bringing the kids to school, sending them off with hugs and kisses and watching them run, hand-in-hand-across the schoolyard, their bouncing backpacks larger than their little bodies.

And I am always amused by the flock of parents on their way to--or, in some cases, from--work, dropping off their children with the same breathless, hurried affection. There we are--always rushing to get here and there. And yet not one of leaves until our children are out of sight, no matter how late we may be for whatever dullness the grown-up world holds for us. We don't turn around and walk toward our cars until we know our children are being escorted to their classrooms safely inside the building. Guarding the nest. Always.

Last week was no different from any other. One morning in particular I was dressed to the nines for a meeting and, not surprisingly, running late. I sped up to the curb, threw the car in park, and shepherded the kids on their way. As Sean dropped his lunchbox under the car and Nolan struggled to keep his backpack on his bird-sized shoulders, an old woman walked by us. She had the sweetest smile on her face and a church bulletin in her hand. Clearly, she was on her way home from the regular weekday morning mass, and she seemed amused by all the children and parents spilling into the street and sidewalk as the last bell rang.

In an instant, I assumed this woman with her sweetly smile to be full of wisdom and love--the kind of elderly person who has all the answers. What else could an old, kindly, church-going lady be, if not an experienced mother, grandmother, and salty sage?

I slammed the car door. "Wait for your brother!!!" I shouted after Sean as he tore off down the sidewalk.

"Seany, wait for me!!!" Nolan desperately cried, chasing down his brother while the backpack he carried threated to pull him ass-first onto the concrete.

The old woman shook her head and smiled at me. I looked at her plaintively.

"I don't know how you get two children ready and out the door every day. And yourself, too!" she said smiling, looking me in the eye as she shuffled past.

I was surprised to hear this comment, since a few seconds earlier I had mentally written her character to be full of answers. In her infinite wisdom, she was supposed to tell me how to do things, not ask me how I do them.

I looked her right back in the eye and laughed with her. Nolan was still chasing after his brother.

"You know," I said to her, "neither do I."

"Heh heh heh," she giggled and carried on her easy pace.

I watched her walk away for a moment, then turned and sped off toward the schoolyard, my heels a little too loud beneath my feet.