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I’ll tell you when you’re older

POSTED: September 5, 2012 4:00 a.m.

Parenthood comes with a unique set of challenges. Are you teaching your children the right things? Are they getting the right foods, the right education? Are they involved in the right extracurricular activities? Are you scarring them for life?

But children are resilient people. They seem to go with the ebb and flow of life much easier than adults. Some of the things we worry about, they don't even notice.

And children are naturally inquisitive little people. Once they get their words down, the questions never cease.

"Why" is the most frequently asked and the easiest to answer: Because.

But as they grow, the questions get a little more involved, a little too deep and present challenges of their own.

Especially when it's a 7-year-old asking anything in the remote vicinity of the birds and the bees.

Who knew that a tiny little three letter word could invoke such horror. But it did.

"Mama, what's - " and then out of his perfect little angelic mouth that word came falling out so nonchalantly. Like he was asking for a glass of milk.

"Go ask your father," was my reply.

I hoped beyond hope my husband would not tell him anything explicit.

Seconds later, Cole re-appeared in front of me. "He said to ask you."

Leave it to my husband to pass the buck.

"Oh no, this is not my area. This falls under father-son conversations."

I sent my child back to his father.

With Ninja like speed, he returned.

"Daddy said to ask you again. And if you didn't tell me, for me to quit asking about it."

"I'm not going to tell you. I don't even know why you are asking about it. Especially now. Where have you heard about this?"

Cole's eyes crinkled in thought.

"I am not sure, but I have heard it around. So I wanted to know what it was. Why won't you tell me?"

"Because."

"When will you tell me?"

"Later."

Fifteen minutes went by.

"Is it later yet?" he asked, reappearing at my elbow.

"No."

"When's later then?"

"When you're older."

I don't remember wanting to know anything about this subject when I was younger.

I do recall Mama asking me one evening when I was around 12, her Virginia Slim 120 poised by her head and the look of fierce determination in her eye that told me she meant business.

"Do you know what (she said that word!) is?" she asked.

I nodded. I had been watching soap operas over the summer with my grandfather.

"Well. Don't do it."

That was our talk.

I hoped that would be how my talk with my child would go. But no.

Cole is more inquisitive than I was. He asked again the other day.

"Mama, when are you going to tell me what ..." I interrupted him before he could say it. I am really going to have to either become more stoic or invest in some Depends.

"When you're older, Cole. Much, much older."

"Like how much older?" he asked.

"When you are 30, OK? The same day you can get your driver's license."

Cole eyed me suspiciously, still not sure if he believed my little white lie of having to wait til 30 to drive.

"I'm going to hold you to that," he warned.

Seven year olds can be terrifying when they are sniffing out a parental fib.

"Where's your homework?" I asked, hoping to distract him.

My child sighed and brought his book bag to me, all bedecked with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, but yet he was asking questions far more mature than he could understand or needed to know.

"How did you do on your spelling test?" I asked, opening the folder.

Another sigh, this time deeper.

"I'll tell you when you're older."

Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist and certified life coach. She lives in the north Georgia mountains with her family and four insane, but fairly well behaved dogs.

 

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