Friday, November 11, 2016

The Birds, The Bees & The Browns

My 6-year-old had just been picked up from school. The baby sat two seats away from her, eyes fixated on the back of my headrest as Elmo danced across the car movie screen. We were awash in a sea of minivans and hybrids with the rest of the after school traffic. As we trudged slowly down the road I flipped through my mental dinner recipe Rolodex absentmindedly. 
My first grader, oblivious to mommy’s distraction, was regaling the car with a tale of the most exciting things from the day…either fish sticks had been served for lunch or they’d had a fire drill. I’d missed the plot though so it was only by chance I heard, “…but also [friend] came back today. She had a baby!”
The word ‘baby’ stood out in the fog of my mind. My grip tightened on the steering wheel as I held my breath, “What?”

“[Friend], remember her? Didn’t I tell you her mommy had a baby?” Ashton found my now saucer-sized eyes in the rearview mirror.
“Oh,” I exhaled, “right.”
My panic, short-lived but intense, erupted as I briefly imagined my daughter – a little girl still – with a friend who’d be having a baby. It was a silly thought, my kid is only 6, but it brought to mind a serious fear I’d always had.
Sex talks, ever since I’d become old enough to hear one, had made me overwhelmingly uncomfortable. Not without reason though. I remembered my dad – the strong, silent type, who my brother & I knew more for discipline than heart to heart discourse– sitting me down one summer day before I began 7thgrade. He rested in his Lazy Boy flipping through the channels before stopping on the Jerry Springer Show.
He cleared his throat, “You see that?”
I barely nodded in reply. A pencil thin pre-teen with a stringy ponytail wearing a tube top and ripped shorts danced across the stage as she screamed into the camera that she was “gonna have a baby, whether my mama likes it or not!” 
“That’s a fast girl. Nobody likes a fast girl, don’t forget that.” And with that, he turned back to ESPN, and our “conversation” was over. I blushed as I crept from the room and ran back down the hallway. Praying to erase all memory of the instance from my brain.

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