The other morning I got up and sat down at the desk to type a quick email. Ben was already up and dressed, sitting on the couch reading Newsweek. For reasons that would soon become even more apparent, I had told him Newsweek was not really appropriate kid reading.
But it was early. I was sleepy and eager to get the email written and breakfast underway.
I typed. He read. And then I got hit with this:
"Mom, what's oral sex?
Now it seems that when faced with such questions (which never, ever come at good times or with proper lead in) you can either refuse to answer, lie or tell the truth.
I stalled for time. Where, I asked, did you hear such a thing (I was immediately trying to figure out what friend I could blame)?
It's in Newsweek, he said. It was. Not kid reading! I said (obviously, too late). Ben said he'd been reading about the presidential candidates (a recent obsession) but he'd also (obviously) read about a girl forced into the sex trade.
"I don't want to talk about it," I said. How's that for good parenting? It was, however, so very, very true.
But that sort of thing doesn't work with Ben the pit bull. Maybe there was a good out, a good way to avoid explaining this to my 9-year-old. But I couldn't think of it, not on my feet like that.
And I'm no good at lying. Plus, I had never taken that tack before when it came to sex questions. So the truth. Well, um. I was vague as I could be, but he still said, "That's disgusting." Maybe that's good.
Another issue of Newsweek was in the mail that evening. I put it right in our room. He can go back to reading Sports Illustrated Kids or Highlights or something meant for KIDS!