Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mommy, what are my balls for?

Just a couple years ago at Griffith Park Observatory. That's one big ball.

You know that saying “You can run, but you can’t hide”?

Well, that shit is real.


I started running about three months ago. Not literally running - though I did sign up to do a 5K in a few weeks…more New Year’s resolution making gone awry. I don’t know who I think I am during winter break. That short reprieve from my ordinary existence before the New Year makes me think there are 36 hours in each day.

But I digress…

So this metaphorical running of mine started about the same week my family moved into our current rental house. Long, boring story seemingly without end there but the relevance of that rental house to this particular story is that the house can best be described as a cavernous, open concept, echo chamber. It is clean with modern finishes and absolutely nowhere to hide. Like I can stand in the kitchen, look down the hall and see the damp towels and pajamas that my matching nine-year olds have left in a heap on their bathroom floor.

That story definitely needs an end. Soon.

Now for my running story:

It was probably around 6:45 a.m. on a weekday morning back in early November. I heard the shower turn off, then the sound of singing. My kids love music. And my Nick always has a song in his head, just like his mother.

I remember a few summers ago while vacationing on Lake Tahoe with close family friends, I climbed back in the boat after water skiing and asked my best friend from college:

“What song was in your head while you were out there?” 

“No song,” she replied.

“Really?” I honestly couldn’t believe it.

“Really, Lizzie. And what song, may I ask, was in your head?”

“Hey, Jude.”

I had lived 37 years thinking everyone went through life with their own soundtrack pumping in their head. I can’t imagine living any other way.

And there I go digressing again…

Where was I? Oh, yeah.  So it’s about quarter to seven on a school day. I was drinking coffee and emptying the dishwasher while listening to Nick sing. Very standard stuff.  Then the singing stopped.

“Mommy?” That sweet sound echoed down the hall. 

“Yeah, honey?”

“What are my balls for?”

My chest instantly tightened.


What the fuck.


This never would have happened in the old house. In the old house, at least five minutes would have passed between the time Nick stepped out of the shower, finished drying his balls, got dressed and came downstairs for breakfast. He would have completely forgotten how utterly perplexing his balls were during that time.

I started combing my mind for words.

“Well, honey, when you’re older…”

When you’re older, what? You need them to make babies? You’re going to tell a kid who doesn’t know what sex is that his balls are for babies.

I played the conversation out in my mind:

"My balls make babies? How do my balls make babies, Mommy?"

"Oh, the sperm in the balls, honey."

"What’s the sperm?"

"Oh, the sperm for the sex."

"Isn’t the sex hugging and kissing?"

"Yes, and the balls and the sperm and the babies."


Where is Jeff?

Jeff is in Portland.


“You know what honey?” I tried to sound as casual as possible. “It’s kind of hard to explain. You should ask Daddy when he gets back.” (Sorry, Jeff. My back was against the wall.)

Somehow, someway, it ended right then and there. 

Fast-forward about three months to last Thursday at about 4:40 p.m. I’m in Ralph's on the phone with my Dearest of Dear Friends (DODF). Also very standard stuff. But I had some ground I needed to cover.

“Do you know what a nocturnal emission is?”

“Is it something that has to do with a car?” DODF was quick to reply.

“No, but good guess. It’s a wet dream.”

“Then, why didn’t you just say wet dream?”

“Because in the video that I watched this morning at the school district office, they used the term ‘nocturnal emission’?”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

I then gave DODF the Reader’s Digest on the puberty video I had previewed that morning. The fourth grade, puberty video that will be shown to my sons: two, bona fide late bloomers, just like their mother.

“I still don’t understand why they didn’t call it a wet dream. Who makes these videos? We didn’t have these things and we figured it out.”

Oh, how I love the perspective of my friends who do not yet have or do not want children of their own. They, therefore, are not reeling in today's “Supposed Tos”. The “Supposed Tos” that we as parents of young children must navigate almost every single moment of every single day. The “Supposed Tos” that sometimes keep me awake at night, threatening to cloud my better judgment as I try to be the best parent I can be to my beautiful sons.

My beautiful sons who increasingly find themselves reeling in their own sets of “Supposed Tos”.  

“You’re right, DODF; but I didn’t know anything about anything when I was their age.”

“Dude, Dick and Carol told you something.”

“Apart from explaining to me that oral sex WASN’T talking about it when I was like fifteen, their lessons in sex education consisted of four words: KEEP YOUR PANTS ON.”

“I don’t remember talking to my parents about any of this either,” DODF admitted. “But that video sounds stupid and like it’s just going to confuse them even more.”

She was right. I was silent. Now reeling in the “Supposed Tos” in the frozen foods section at Ralph’s.

Apart from a few brief conversations with Jeff, I have remained silent since then; but the permission slip for the boys to watch the video came home yesterday. My three months of running will likely stop tonight, around the dinner table.

And by the way, I know Jeff and I will handle it. Though how well we handle it may be debated by our sons, hopefully with some humor, at some point in the future.

And it’s not the nocturnal-emissions-part that gets to me. It’s the growing-up-so-fast-part.

And the making-sure-I-am-equipping-them-with-the-right-tools-at-the-right-time-so-being-a-kid-is-as-much-fun-as-it-can-be-part.

That's what gets to me. That has me reeling way more than the “Supposed Tos”.

A super helpful image DODF (best friend from high school) texted to me following our phone conversation.

And I found this when I Googled “Supposed Tos”. Who knew Ashton  (a.k.a.: Chris) had it in him?

And while not my cup of tea, there is a band called Nocturnal Emissions.

And Happy Anniversary, baby! 15 years tomorrow. Wow!