Once when Chase was three, he was looking through my wedding album and said “Mommy, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you look kind of BIGGER in these pictures. Like… not skinny.”
I cleared my throat and said. “Oh, right honey. Well there is a lot of food at weddings. I was REALLY FULL. And also, in case you’re wondering, grandpa was holding that shotgun because the ceremony was deep in bear country.”
Chase bought my fertilization fables for several years. But since he was five when I got pregnant with Amanda, his baby questions started to get more specific. “Mommy, how did she GET IN THERE? How is she going to GET OUT?” At first, I held tight to my routine of lies and distraction. “Oh, honey only doctors know the answers to those questions! And I didn’t go to medical school. Sorry. LOOK, AN EAGLE!!!”
But he wouldn’t let it go, and I thought maybe it was time for some professional help. So we bought a children’s book about what happens to a woman’s body during pregnancy. In the section about labor, the book discussed how the baby travels through the birth canal and then out through the vagina, which it described and illustrated as a “tunnel.”
This book was a really fun bedtime read for my husband. My favorite pastime became watching Craig try to read that book to Chase without skipping the words vagina, sperm, and ovum. Every night when Chase was choosing his bedtime story I’d yell up the stairs…”HEY GUYS, HOW ABOUT THE BABY BOOK?” And Craig would silently curse me while I giggled and felt a bit better about my heartburn and swollen ankles.
One afternoon, late in my pregnancy, I was in my family room with two moms I’d just met from Chase’s preschool. All the kids were downstairs playing with Chase and Tish’s new playhouse, which had a big tent and passageways to crawl through. Just as I began preparing a delicious snack of God knows what, we heard Chase scream,
“TISH! IT’S MY TURN TO GET IN THE VAGINA!”
My new friends and I froze and stared at each other for a moment. I decided immediately that this little problem was okay, really. I had a lot of friends. I didn’t NEED these two ladies.
And then I politely excused myself to check on the children.
When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I saw Chase squatting and lunging into his new play tunnel, or birth canal if you will, trying to pull Tish out by her head while she kicked and screamed. I calmly suggested he use some forceps.
And since I don’t have a walk-out basement from which to escape, I had no other choice but to hike back upstairs and try to explain myself and my child. I don’t remember much about the excuse I offered, but I can’t imagine it went smoothly. Which is to say, that there haven’t been any more playdates with those particular ladies or their traumatized children.
And so it goes.
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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