My husband and I got married in our mid-twenties. Our first home was a charming two-bedroom apartment just outside of Philadelphia. I drove a cute four passenger car... a stick shift. Then we bought a house in the suburbs. You know that saying, "new house, new baby"? True for us. Except in our case, it was new house, new baby. New baby. New baby. And... new baby. Four boys in seven years. I traded in my adorable stick shift for the requisite minivan. And I swapped listening to Howard Stern in my car for conversations like these...
9-year-old boy: "Mommy, Richie's parents aren't married."
Me: "I know."
9-year-old boy, eyes wide: "They never were married."
Me, nodding: "I know."
9-year-old: "Well, how can they have a baby if they were not married?"
Me: "You don't have to be married to have a baby."
10-year-old, resident expert on every topic, chimes in: "Yes, you do."
Me: "No, you don't."
10-year-old: "Yes, you do."
I'm ignoring the 10-year-old now.
9-year-old: "I'm never getting married. I don't want all these kids."
I like the way he thinks.
Me: "You don't have to have kids if you're married."
10-year-old : "But you do have to be married to have a baby."
Some days I think he was put on this earth to make my life a living hell. Oops! I mean to challenge me at every turn.
Me: "No, you don't."
9-year-old: "How does that work?"
I glance in the mirror. Eight blue eyeballs are trained on me.
I haven't even had my coffee yet.
Me: "It works in a way that not everyone in this car is ready to hear about just yet. It works in a way that I'm happy to explain to you at home."
10-year-old: "You do have to be married to have kids."
For Christ's sake...
Me: "You do not. Remember that talk Dad and I had with you about how babies are made?"
I raise my eyebrows and make what I hope is meaningful eye contact with the 10-year-old in the rearview mirror. Then I swerve the wheel to compensate for the six seconds spent focused on the mirror.
10-year-old, suddenly disgusted, looks away: "Ugh, yes, I don't really want to talk about that."
Me: "I don't either, but that's what I'm referring to."
10-year-old : "You mean about the no pants?"
I raise my eyebrows higher, make even more meaningful eye contact, swerve the wheel again.
Me: "Shhhh. Yes."
9-year-old: "No pants?! What the..."
6-year-old: "No pants? Who has no pants?! That's inappropriate, Mom!"
Me: "Yes, it's inappropriate."
10-year-old: "Dad has no pants sometimes."
Always the instigator...
Me: "OK, enough, thank you. That's good."
3-year-old, shrieking with disbelief: "Dad has no pants? 6-year-old, you had no pants last year! Remember, you go'd pee pee on the potty, then you came outside with no pants?" He kicks his bare feet in sheer joy.
6-year-old, laughing, "I remember, that was fun, wasn't it? Except it wasn't last year, it was yesterday. It was fun, and it was funny. But Mom didn't like it."
Me: "I remember that you lost dessert for that stunt, 6-year-old. Pants are mandatory outside."
10-year-old: "But not when making babies."
Angry eyes in the rearview mirror.
36 more days until school starts. 36 more days until I tune into Stern again.
Where do your kids ask their tough questions?