The Birds and the Bees Part 2

So the other day, we were having dinner when Tornado S popped up with some news.

Tornado S: I learned the sign language sign for penis!

Me: Oh? And what is it?

Tornado S made the gesture. It was not the sign for penis. In fact, it was a sign for a sexual act. One so taboo that most people don’t do it often.

Me: That’s not the sign for penis, sweetheart. Where did you learn that?

Right away Tornado S sensed something was wrong and clammed up.

Me: I would like to know where you learned that.

He shook his head.

Me: No dessert then.

Tornado S: Fine.

Me: No video games either.

Tornado S: NO!

Me: Then just tell me where you learned it. No one will get in trouble.

But it was no use.

After a day went by, I realized I had to try a different strategy. But I also needed to move up The Talk by a month because I couldn’t have Tornado S repeating the gesture.

Me: Tornado S, do you know what that sign means?

Tornado S: No. Tell me.

Me: Tell me who showed you.

Tornado S: No.

Me: (sigh) Fine. But I’ll have to contact your teacher, your den leader, and your sensei.

Tornado S: No! Why?!

Me: Because the gesture you used is a grown up gesture that is so taboo that most people don’t use it. Nana has never seen it. Papi has seen it a couple of times. (Though I thought that was weird from a cop.) The adults around you need to know that other children may be using the sign without knowing what it means, and their parents need to know to help teach their kids what it means.

Tornado S: (whispering) I learned it at school.

Me: When?

Tornado S: During the Valentine’s Party.

So it was a while ago.

Me: From who?

He was silent.

Me: Fine. Do you want to know what it means?

Tornado S: Yes.

Me: Well, first we have to talk about puberty and sexual intercourse.

So we had The Talk. When it was time to generically explain the sex act, Tornado E was walking by, so I pulled him to the room and explained what a sex act was and that the gesture was a sex act on a woman. I showed them a diagram of a woman’s sexual organs. Tornado E nodded and left the room.

Tornado S hid under my ultra soft through for twenty minutes refusing to get out or talk.

I took pictures.

 

The Birds and the Bees Part 1

I had my first Talk when I was in fourth grade. I brought home a letter for my parents, stating that in a couple of weeks we would be starting a unit on puberty and reproduction and parents could opt out.

My mother didn’t. Instead she marched me to the library and mortified me by asking me about where books on puberty and sex were kept. She checked out a few, read them, and then gave me The Talk, using the books for aids. God, how embarrassing.

Then it got worse because then we had the unit. In fourth grade. In fifth grade. In sixth grade. In seventh grade. And in eighth grade. Each year the lessons added more detail. Each year my mother would give me The Talk. In eighth grade, they pulled us out of our classes for two days to tell us, “sure, here are other birth controls, but do you know which one works the best? Abstinence!” The percentages of effectiveness were all wrong, but I don’t think another Catholic kid was armed as much as our class was.

Then Tornado E was in fourth grade, and I realized we needed to have The Talk. Over at his dad’s house, he was hanging out with slightly older boys who loved Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. I knew I had to beat the bad influences to the punch.

So one spring Saturday morning, I gave Tornado E The Talk. Without books, because our library didn’t have any. I found it much harder than when I would talk about human sexuality to other people. Hell, I gave The Talk at 18 to another 18 year old, whose parents never gave him The Talk. I stood in front of a class of 35 college students discussing the mating rituals of humans. But this. God, this was hard.

After The Talk, I asked Tornado E if he had any questions. He shook his head. Then he sat there thinking.

Tornado E: That was the most boring and interesting 5 minutes of my life.

Pause. Thinking.

Tornado E: Now I know what all those jokes are about in The Big Bang Theory.

Huh.

Early Bloomer

Tornado E: Mama? Remember in third grade when the kids didn’t get my jokes?

Yes. Like when your teacher came up to me to tell me how bright you were and how advanced your humor was, that your classmates didn’t understand your jokes or sarcasm. Like when I started sending school notes with corny kid jokes to expand your humor to something closer to your peers. Like when you wanted to give your best friend a My Little Pony Pinkie Pie for her birthday because she had a nightmare about it and that would be hilarious.

You’re right. It would’ve been. If you were older. Like teenagers. In college. Adults. Not third grade.

Third grade when I had to explain it was ok to tease someone but when that person is hurt or offended, you apologize and never make that joke again. It’s ok to make a mistake and cross a boundary you didn’t know was there. But it was never ok to keep hurting a person like that. Sometimes people won’t be able to tell you they are hurt, so you have to watch for physical cues, and then you back off when you hurt someone. Always.

Me: Yes.

Tornado E: They get my jokes now. They think I’m funny. They try to copy my jokes. They like insulting each other now. They’re trying to be sarcastic. It’s kind of funny.

So it only took them three years to start catching up to Tornado E. I’d pitch him against any of my freshmen any day of the week.

Mama

I went from Mommy to Mama. As Tornado E gets closer to 12, I’m waiting for the day I’ll no longer be Mama but Mom. Or worse yet, Mother. Whether it’s the simpering formality of mother or the way I say it like a cuss word at my own mother, but I do not like Mother. I will truly miss Mama.

So the other night at dinner, I was relating a story of what happened in class.

Me: And then I said Tornado E said “Mama.” Before I could get any further in the story, one of the boys said “Mama?” Another kid asked if I was Mama. Another girl asked if my kids called me Mama. And another girl thought it was cute. And then-

Tornado E: Why? Why were they confused? They have mamas.

Me: They do, but they don’t see me as a mama but as Miss. They probably call all their moms Mom. When you get older, you’ll probably call me Mom. (I swear I didn’t sigh or put any guilt in that.)

Tornado E: No, Mama. I’ll always call you Mama because you’re Mama.

Me: Thanks, kid.

Quoting and Alluding

I once spent the drive from Orange, CA to Las Vegas, NV quoting The Simpsons with my college best friend. It’s about a four hour drive. I’m sure the other friend was wishing she had the guts to jump out of the car.

So to quote Homer Simpson. “Kids are great. You get to teach them to hate what you hate.” Or in my case, I get to teach them to love what I love. Sometimes you both (or all four, in my case) fall in love with the same thing at the same time.

We all love the Disney cartoon Star vs the Forces of Evil. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do. It’s amazing. I wish I had something like it when I was a kid. A magical princess who fights monsters with her best friend, a karate “safe kid.” And the magical princess is a perfect mix of traditional boy things (like fighting monsters and weapons) and traditional girl things (wearing girly dresses and her spells are the cutest, angriest things). So naturally, I have taught my boys to quote the show or allude to it.

When I leave for work:

Tornado E: (quoting Marco) Don’t go.

Me: (quoting Star) I’m totally going.

 

When he wants a snack:

Tornado A: (in sing-song Marco voice) I want Mama’s Amazing Nachos.

 

When doing his homework:

Tornado S: (quoting Star) So this is what it’s like to be bored to death.

 

When playing with his narwhal:

Tornado A: (quoting Star) Narwhal blast! (Then throws the narwhal at me)

 

When reminding the boys of Stranger Danger:

Me: (quoting Marco) Never go with a predator to a second location.

 

When one of the boys gets angry at one of his brothers:

Me: (quoting Brian and walking the angry boy in a circle) Walk it out and talk it out. Walk it out and talk it out. Walk it out and talk it out.

 

Or other random quotes:

“It’s not criminal to be an individual.”

“Totally. Totally. Totally.”

“I want you face.”

“I want my stuff.”

“What are you doing here?” “Wouldn’t you want to know?” “Yes, that’s why I asked.”

 

We’re going to have so much fun as they get older.

 

Collections

On our way to the second-run movie theater last weekend, Tornado E tried to spark conversation.

Tornado E: If you could collect whatever you want, what would it be?

Tornado S: Money.

Say what you will about Tornado S, that kid is smart.

Timing

My father’s family is legendary for their jokes, pranks, stories. Their timing is spot on. Their ability to find a person’s flaws and insecurities is the stuff of legend. These are dominant traits, passed through the genes. The oldest of the family like my grandfather has the strongest sense of this Comedy Force. The oldest passing it to the oldest while teaching it to all the children. Until it came to me. I am teaching my sons. The boys’ senses of timing are amazing.

This morning Tornado E had a question about Boaty McBoatface that I answered with the Internet is a strange place that allows people to voice whatever is in their heads. (Please pause for a moment to let that sink in; author points up at the title of the blog. Right, moving on.) As an example of this phenomenon, I told Tornado E and my mom about the Death Star petition to the White House and President Obama’s perfect answer.

My mom looks at me, blinks.

My mom: I don’t even know what a Death Star is.

Before I could open her mouth a remind her that I was born the night after they saw The Empire Strikes Back or that now she has to watch the Star Wars marathon the boys are dying to do with the all the movies and Clone Wars episodes or that she is a part of a Star Wars family whether she likes it or not.

Tornado S: (causally walking though the kitchen) Wow. Just wow.

I point down the hall after him and mouth “That’s my kid” to my mom.

My mom: (calling after Tornado S) We can’t be experts at everything.