When we moved from the hustle and bustle of traffic congested highways and cookie cutter homes, our relocation took us to the other side of the country, to an area we had driven through many times on our cross country trips. Instead of having neighbors who would thoughtfully hand you the soap you dropped through a window almost touching yours, the neighbors at our new location were a considerable distance away. Make no mistake, people were as friendly here as they were in our previous neighborhood but we didn’t have to supply an extra bowl of popcorn for them as they watched movies on our TV through adjacent kitchen windows.
We chose the drastic relocation for several reasons. One was to be closer to family. The other and most important reason was to hopefully give our son a chance to enjoy the freedom to run around and enjoy his childhood like his parents had. We didn’t have to worry about walking to a park; our farm was the park. He was able to get a pony. A dog who had been abandoned and was being fed by three different neighbors, chose to adopt us as his permanent family. The neighbor behind us had the cutest little herd of miniature ponies and, of course, what is a barn without a barn cat. It was a little heaven on earth.
Spring arrived about eight months later and with her arrival appeared an issue I hadn’t anticipated addressing for at least a few years. As my eight year old son and I were walking back from the barn, having fed my son’s pony and cleaning the stall, we noticed our neighbor’s miniature horses running around with the friskiness and wild abandon only spring can bring. Something in the back of my mind began to percolate as the ruckus was unlike any commotion we had heard before. As we came over the rise, the little white stallion, which I had assumed was a gelding, was mounting one of the mares in a valiant effort to have his way with her. She was having none of it. Although she didn’t outright kick him, she very vocal in her indignation. My son, alarmed with the bellowing, the screaming and the general position of the two minis became very concerned and asked me, “Mom, what are they doing? He’s hurting her. Why is he hurting her?”
I was unprepared for the scene unfolding in front of us and I was even more ill prepared for my son’s concern. I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind. “No, honey, he’s not hurting her. She’s just tired and he’s pushing her back to the barn.” Oh good Lord. Did I actually say that? I looked down at my son who happily accepted my explanation and walked into the house. I hung my head…..yes I actually said that. My first opportunity to take advantage of a teachable moment and I screwed it up. No pun intended.
Should another moment occur, which I knew instinctively would, I promised myself to take a deep breath before answering, After all, opportunities didn’t happen on a regular basis.
Sure enough, the perfect moment presented itself on our way to school not long after. My son’s school was a considerable distance…..something one must explore when deciding to live in the country. It’s fair to say we were late more than I care to remember. It was always a contest to see how close we could time getting dressed, wolf down breakfast and out the door to make the trek before the tardy bell. However, my son loved the school, his friends, the teachers and even the new principal. The new principal was a serious, reserved fellow who did not appreciate off color humor. He regarded his position of guiding the school through difficult times as his mission.
On this particular morning we were ahead of schedule, surprisingly. We were rocking to some country music on the radio and had timed the majority of green lights perfectly. Sitting at the final traffic light waiting to make a turn, it happened. A seemingly innocuous advertisement came over the radio and ended with this announcement: “If you have trouble with erectile dysfunction, please call xxx-xxxx.” I couldn’t change the station fast enough, but of course, I was too late.
“Mom, what’s erectile dysfunction?”
“It’s where you can’t get up in the morning.” Craaaap. I’d done it again. Well, I had part of it right.
“Oh. Okay.” he replied. For one brief moment, I held my breath thinking that would be the end of this topic. I should have known better.
“That’s good to know. Now I know what to tell the teachers the next time we’re late.”
Double crap!!!! Now I was really stuck. How could I let my innocent nine year old son take the rap for his mother who had provided him with an explanation for tardiness that would lead to certain detention or reprimand? As I pulled to the curb of his school, I knew what I had to do. Parking the car, I trudged to the Principal’s office, a walk not unfamiliar to me from my elementary school days.
Marching into the principal’s office, I explained that should my son make an inappropriate comment regarding the reason he has been late to school, the fault was mine due to my spontaneous, yet erroneous definition of “erectile dysfunction”. Just mentioning those two words together in the same sentence to this man made me squirm. I walked him through the scenario, I had to admit, the man was pretty cool. He understood and smiled but as I walked out, I could have sworn I heard a loud guffaw.
Fast forward a few years and I’m happy to report I have not damaged my son. However, this morning he asked the question all kids ask their parents. “Where do babies come from?”
Feeling he was of a certain age, I launched into a gentle conversation about love, commitment, the love between a man and woman, only briefly mentioning sex. Suddenly his face blanched and his eyes grew big. He was almost apoplectic. Then he stuttered in complete disgust. “You mean…..you….and……DAD? Ewwww…..”