A post-natal aquafit student of mine once told me about her experiences eating humble pie after the birth of her daughter. “You’re the perfect parent until you are one.” I couldn’t agree more.
I always balked at those parents who would brace their school –aged children each time the playground swing would descend and ascend. God help us all if their therapist-aided rug rat were to feel the pull of gravity before the age of ten.
But believe me when I tell you that when you become a parent, when you look into the eyes of this helpless creature, you believe that every lollipop has a razor blade in it. Every turtleneck sweater is a booby trap. Complete disaster will follow if your child dares to let go of your hand in the shopping mall. This is no joke. My partner, who is now co-parenting my daughter, Arden, often laughed at me and all my neurotic beliefs re: arms out car windows. But then, when Tita Pavey graduated to Mommy Pavey, suddenly my daughter was passing by me, heading back to her bedroom to re-jig the outfit she chose for herself.
“Why are you changing?” I’d ask her.
“Mom says my top is too low,” she’d answer nonchalantly. Her stepmom’s prudence has become quite natural to her. If my partner would have her way, Arden would be wearing a nun’s habit with hunting gloves. Sure, she lets Arden ride real fast on an ATV (with subtle adult supervision fit for small town Ontario). But when it comes to revealing the body, Pavey’s discretion is laughable. This applies especially when it comes to all conversations that deal with anything most adults would find difficult. This is my territory, it seems. This includes conversations like the following:
Arden: Mama, why is there a naked lady on the side of that building?
Me: That’s called a strip bar. That’s where people go to take off their clothes when they need to make a lot of money real fast.
As soon as difficult conversations arise – and you can almost smell them coming on – Pavey suddenly starts wandering off, knowing it’s best to leave it to me to make a mess of things with my honesty.
I know this may sound strange to some, but as soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I needed to smarten the hell up about the birds and the bees talk. There was no way I was going to be the fool with the business tie showing my kid what intercourse is using a banana and a donut. I imagined I was going to be cool. Understated. Clear but not graphic.
This was not the case.
At the ripe old age of 5, Arden suddenly asked me about genitalia. It was during our weekly “Mama Spa” time and I was in the middle of filing her nails. Now, I could have just simply answered her question like anyone else would have. But the last 5 years of mental rehearsal about this particular conversation resulted in verbal diarrhea. And you know what they say: great rehearsal means disastrous performance. I mean, this wasn’t just the birds and the bees talk. These were motherfucking turkey buzzards and killer bees.
In about ten minutes, I gave her the impression that sex of any orientation is basically stuffing every known orifice on your lover’s body with anything and everything. That somehow, this was natural, no matter who you were and who you were sleeping with, and that I knew that this sounded very strange but it would make sense when she’s older and would want to have sex herself, say around 34 years old.
“Um...no,” Arden said calmly, releasing her hands from my grip since I almost filed her nails down to nubs. “I will never have sex.” I couldn’t blame her. The way I described it, sex sounded more like putting her clothes away. Men and men put this in that. Women and women put this in that. It was a fucking disaster.
Why couldn’t I have brought her to a petting zoo and let her see the pregnant goat like everyone else does?