My Beautiful Wickedness


How moms and dads are different.
January 17, 2008, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We alternate days driving Kid to school.  Here’s what it sounds like when Dad drives:

 “Hey, what is this kind of music?” 

“It’s called baroque. You can tell baroque music because it’s got a real rhythmic continuous beat to it as it chugs along — that’s called basso continuo because it’s carried by the bass section — and that provides the harmonic structure to the music. Hear it? (hum hum hum, tap tap tap on the steering wheel)”

“Oh yeah! (hum hum hum in response)”

“One other interesting thing about baroque music is that it doesn’t have a lot of dynamic variation. It starts at one level, like mezzo-forte, and just sticks to it.  Or sometimes, if they want to get really fancy, they’ll start really soft and then chug, Chug, CHUG up the mountain until they get really loud and then they’ll stop…sort of like a big steamroller.”

“Why is that?”

“Some musicologists think that maybe it was the physical limits of the instruments, that they just couldn’t really play all that loud or all that soft, but other people think that it was because of the size of the rooms in which ensembles played. You didn’t want a gazillion instruments playing forte because they were really up close to the audience.” 

“Cool!”

“There was an orchestra in the town of Mannheim that was famous for their ability to start out soft and get really loud…you know, that’s why the modern group “Mannheim Steamroller” is called that.”

“You mean the Christmas people? The weet-wonk weet-wonk music?” (makes a “kid making synthesizer sounds” noise) 

“Yep.”

“Hunh. I like this better.” 

“Me too.”

“I think that this would be good to dance ballet to, wouldn’t it? Aw, shoot, it’s over.”

“Let’s switch over to NPR, ok?”

“Grrrrrrrroooooan. Ok. Let me get my book out.” 

 Ok, so here’s what it sounds like when Mom drives:

 (listening to classical music) “So, uh, Mom?” 

“Yes, hon?”

“Where do the babies come out?”

“Yah what?”

“Where do the babies come out of our bodies?”

“Well, uh…there’s the vaginal opening that becomes somewhat stretchy and thins out so that the baby’s head and body can pass through. It’s not always big enough for a baby to come out, but your body releases hormones to help your pelvic ligaments to loosen and for your vaginal opening to get bigger right before the baby comes.”

“Where is that, exactly?”

“Well, it would be easier to explain if I wasn’t driving, but you know where your anus is, right? and you know where you pee, right — that opening is called the urethra — well, your vaginal opening is between those two…”

“Ooooooh, so that’s what that’s for! What’s it connected to?”

 

and so forth. Then, because she knows that the uterine lining is where menstrual blood comes from, we wound up talking about menstruation (she’s interested, but not overly concerned…just wants information about the various options on when girls use sanitary napkins versus when they use tampons and what will she might using…) for the rest of the trip.  He gets to talk about music. I get to talk about the basics of reproductive health at 65 miles an hour, with no eye contact and no time to be uncomfortable.  Because I’ve never had to sit down and plan to have “the talk,” what’s actually happened is more like a series of mini-talks (never more than 15 minutes, since that’s how long the trip to school takes) and then some reflection on her part and then some more questions in a couple of weeks…it’s all been very low-key and there hasn’t really been anything to dread about it. Of course, the “so how does the baby get inside you?” is coming down the road so I’m already running the various responses through in my head to figure out how much detail is appropriate for right now.  I wish, though, sometimes (just once at least, just to say that he had done his part) that he had to field an awkward question.  

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7 Comments so far
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Huh, mine’s just working on her one-woman show, “3 Million Ways to Ask for a Dog.” Favorite questions while mom’s trying to change lanes on the 405 at 5:15pm: “Mom, do you think I’m responsible enough for a dog?” “Mom, do you trust me?” “Mom, which would you rather have, a dog or a snake?” “Mom, which would be a better name for a dog, Sam or Molly?” … the variations are, apparently, endless.

Comment by pennylrichards

Oh, didn’t I blog about Golden Retriever Pup MANIIIIIAAAAAA? Kid visited a pair of 7-week old pups (all chubby and tumbly and licky) over the holiday break. For about two weeks, we had at least fifty questions a day on variations of the “can I have a dog?” theme. I think she’s realized that it’s a no-go, but she still makes goo-goo eyes at dogs on TV and makes Significant Mentions of her friends’ dogs.

Comment by bridgett

At least you were in the privacy of your car. Picture me, 8 months pregnant, waddling through the drug store with AdultSon, 4 years old at the time, in tow. In his best “outdoor voice” he asked, “So, Mommy, how exactly is the baby going to get out of there?” Shopping carts came to a halt. I swear the muzak faded, too. All eyes turned, expectantly. I think I went with something like, “There’s a special opening and we’ll talk about it on the way home.”

Comment by listie

Ha! Cute. I asked my parents when my middle sister was about to be born (I was 3ish?), and my mom gave me a technical, if not overly detailed explanation, including the part where a man sticks his penis into a woman. I then asked if I could watch. =p They told me that it had already happened, and left it at that.

We never really had “the talk,” so much as my mom gave me a copy of the What’s Happening To My Body Book For Girls (and later, for boys, because my mom is nothing if not a completist), and left copies of Reviving Ophelia around the house. I also had really good sex ed in elementary school, so I pretty much had all the information I needed.

When I was about to go off to college, I got the “so, have you thought about birth control?” speech from my mom (who was embarrassed and didn’t know much about options beyond the pill and condoms, but who was supportive nonetheless), and the “you only have to do three things: don’t flunk out, don’t come home pregnant, and don’t come home married” speech form my dad. (Seriously, that was the entire speech. He walked out after saying that. Which made it longer than his drug speech by a little bit, which consisted of “whatever you do, don’t snort ritalin” in the middle of me doing my homework, but whatever.)

Comment by Magniloquence

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!!

Comment by Nick Dupree

It’s kind of funny – my wife has forbidden me from having these discussions with the kids outside of her presence, because I tend to use ridiculous analogies, and my style is very rarely dead-serious. When I talk to my 11-year-old son or 10-year-old daughter about sex and reproduction, I talk 10 and 11-year-old language. We actually make crass jokes and giggle.

My wife finds this to be immature (she doesn’t seem to notice that the underlying message actually gets through). Since she’d rather discuss these things in her matter-of-fact manner, and she’d rather not have to tell the kids never to repeat in public something I’ve told them, she banned me from these discussions.

So, be careful what you wish for.

Comment by Slartibartfast

Well, here’s the thing. Kid adores her daddy. She wants to be like him and she celebrates the things they have in common (like similar handwriting and mad math skillz and taste in science fiction). They play together. I, by virtue of the “hell, somebody has to do it,” generally am the enforcer. If there’s some stern words to be delivered, I become The Mom. As a result, I feel a little cheated out of those light-hearted “pure enjoyment” moments of child-rearing; I’m trying to make sure that all the dance shoes are in the bag, all the cupcakes are in the carrier, the homework is all done, that I feel like I miss some of the fun. He is so very much involved in her life, so very active a family man that I don’t have much room to squawk, but sometimes I would like someone else to be the no-fun parent so that I could have more of those giggle moments. I also think that his lighter style (the goof-dad) might be advantageous and a nice counter-point to mine. Finally, at some point, she’ll need to know something about boy-think, a subject that I only know a little about. (I mean, I speak a little boy, but he’s fluent.)

Comment by bridgett




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