Sunday, September 26, 2010

THE Question

Yesterday, Lucas asked me THE question. That's right...that most dreaded, cringe-worthy of all childhood questions. That question that makes parents all over the world shudder with dread. It went a little something like this...

Yesterday afternoon, we loaded the kids into the minivan to head to our realtor's annual Customer Appreciation barbecue. A couple of blocks from our house, we pulled into a gas station to fill up. Ruanita hopped out and began pumping gas, leaving me in the car with the children. Ruanita warns me all of the time about engaging the children the in the car. I have a bad habit of initiating conversations with them when driving. It never ends pretty. As a matter of fact, it usually ends with Ruanita shaking her head at me and muttering, "Why? Why oh why do you feel the need to engage them? Can't you just listen to the radio like normal people?" You would think I would have learned my lesson by now. However, I am not exactly a quick study.

So as Ruanita pumped gas, I overheard Lucas talking to Nicholas from the far recesses of his third row seat. I heard him ask Nicholas if he thought there were more boys or more girls in the world. Lucas concluded that there were probably more boys because God was a boy and, therefore, boys must be more important. So Lucas' logic dictated that God would make more of them. you think I could just sit there and not engage my son after hearing that conversation? So I innocently piped in that both boys and girls are important and that neither one is "better" than the other. Quite suddenly, Lucas warped into defensive mode. Tears sprang to his eyes and he practically shouted, "Girls get to do everything! Girls can have babies. Boys can't have babies. What can boys do? Nothing!" I was a bit taken aback. Apparently, I had hit a nerve with my well-meaning comment. Is it possible that my sweet little son, being raised in a female household with a definite "feminist" leaning, was feeling a bit unappreciated? In our efforts to teach our children that women are equal to men and can do anything men can do, was my son feeling that his masculinity was being undervalued? And why in the HELL was it taking Ruanita so long to pump gas?! I went on to explain, "Yes, Lucas, girls have babies. But they can't have a baby without a boy. It takes a boy AND a girl to have a baby. So boys play an extremely important role, too." I knew I was treading into dangerous territory, but I couldn't let it go. Of course, Lucas then chimed in with.....wait for it....."So how did you and mom have me? Neither one of you is a boy?" Ugh......there it was. THE question. Not only did I need to explain to Lucas how babies are made (a terrifying task on its own), but I needed to discuss what a "sperm donor" is and explain that he has one.

Up to this point, I have happily enjoyed my children's relative ignorance. I have had the luxury of my children not knowing the term "donor." Perhaps we should have introduced the term to them when they were younger. As a matter of fact, I am pretty certain we should have introduced the term earlier. However, it was a non-issue to is still a non-issue to them. And as far as we are concerned, the donor played an important part in their conception, but has no role in their childhood. They are our children, plain and simple. Unfortunately, however, it is not plain and simple. It is complex and convoluted. And I suppose it is time we explain to Lucas how he came to be. I am firm believer in answering my children's questions as honestly as I can....most of the time.

Unfortunately, as is his usual protocol, Lucas asks these difficult life-altering questions at the most inopportune of times. He first asked about God in a McDonalds drive-thru. So....I did the only thing I could think of in the moment. I put him off. That's right. I delayed. I deferred the discussion. With five people crammed into a minivan on our way to South Saint Paul, it was not the time to discuss the facts of life. So I told him to ask me later when we got home and I promised I would answer his question. He seemed satisfied in the moment and began chattering about Super Mario Brothers with his brother. I felt a twinge of guilt for putting him off. However, I must admit, I also felt a huge wave of relief when he never mentioned it again yesterday. Yes, it is time to have that discussion with Lucas. However, I need a little bit of time to form an approach in my head. And I need Ruanita to NOT be pumping gas at the time.


Jen O'Brien said...

Hey Shannon,

I have some excellent books to recommend that deal with the whole spectrum, how baby's are made for moms and dads, and how our kids were created! There are a series of really great books by Robie E. Harris. The appropriate one for Lucas would be It's So Amazing: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families. You could even get one for the twins: It's Not the Stork: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends. Good luck! If you want to talk it through with someone, feel free to give me a call. I used to do this for a living and advise all my freaked out friends at work on how to do this.

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