The other night, as I got out of the shower, M is going through the medicine cabinet in the bathroom. I wasn’t concerned at all. He mostly just likes to look at the after-shaves and the perfumes and the band-aids. But I forgot that we recently relocated our condom stash in that cabinet. Oops. I am usually very open with my kids about most everything, so hiding things isn’t something I regularly think of. So here is what happened:
M: “Hey! What’s this thing?” (holding up the condom wrapper)
Me: I’m trying to re-arrange the horrified smirk on my face, and I go from “contorted Muppet” to “deer in the headlights” over the course of 3 seconds. “That’s a prophylactic.” Should I have said condom? Well, it’s too late to change it now. Why did I say prophylactic? Fuck!
M: “What’s a prophylactic?”
Me: “Oh, that’s something that me and daddy use to prevent me from getting pregnant.” Why the hell isn’t Arp ever here for these conversations?! What would he be saying differently? “Right now, we’re not ready to have another baby. Maybe in a few months, but not right now. You see, a long time ago, daddies and mommies didn’t have prophylactics, so they could have babies at any time, whether they were ready for a baby or not. I’m very glad that Daddy and I can plan when we have our next baby.” What am I telling him? The whole history of birth control? Does he want to know this? Did I just mislead him by implying that babies can happen at pretty much any moment unless you use a condom? Well, just remember – he will only ask for the information that he is ready to know about, what he is emotionally ready for. So I’ll just be as brief as possible with the answers. And I should smile to make him think I’m relaxed. (I contort my face in a semblance of an at-ease smile, but it still looks Muppet-like).
M: (Feeling the package) “It feels hard and round, but still bendable.”
Me: Shit! He’s gonna want to open it. Just what I need. “It’s sort of like a balloon that goes over Daddy’s penis.” He loves balloons! What was I thinking?
M: “How does it stop a baby when Daddy wears it on his penis?”
Me: Go back to nature. He knows nature. Isn’t this the reason we let them watch nature videos?! “Well, you know how animals make babies right? (M nods) We’ve seen that on the nature shows right? And remember you saw the sperm on that video about how mommies have babies? (M nods) Well, the prophylactic prevents the sperm from getting into my belly, where my eggs are stored. When a sperm comes together with an egg, that’s when a baby is made.” Oh my god. He better not ask me to describe sex. How can I explain that to the kid? I’m not ready for this.
M: “Is Daddy wearing one now?” (Note: Arp was currently at work in NYC)
Me: (a brief laugh) “No, he’s not wearing one now! He only has to wear one when Daddy and I have special private time alone together, which doesn’t happen very much since I’m almost always with you guys.” I really hope he doesn’t ask me for a definition of “special alone time”.
M:”Well, I think you should put the prophylactic right here, in front, so you always know where it is.” (He neatly arranges the condoms in a row in front of the various tubes and bottles in the cabinet).
Me: How sweet. He obviously really cares about my access to birth control. What a son!