Oh. You thought I was going to explain ... ?
This is a little awkward. You see, I was hoping you would know and -- you're new here, aren't you? Or perhaps you have not been paying attention?
I can't imagine what I could have said or done in the past to indicate a source of useful advice here. The fact is, when it came up in my living room recently, I found myself panicking. Then obfuscating. And finally, careening wildly into the shoals of too much information.
The soon-to-be sixth grader and I were watching a PG-13 rated movie that seemed safe enough. A mediocre romantic comedy like a dozen others the girl has seen without incident. I like to screen movies in advance when I can, but occasionally if the movie jacket indicates something relatively tame, I will forgo this ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL STEP in favor of watching it with her, which, if you are the type of parent prone to panicking, obfuscating or careening wildly into the shoals of too much information, is actually worse than simply letting your child watch it alone.
In my defense, I can only say, that up until this moment, I truly did not see myself as the kind of parent prone to panicking, obfuscating or careening wildly into the shoals of too much information. In fact, I am now embarrassed to admit, I even imagined that I was an enlightened sort of parent on these topics. "It's just biology," I may have said once or twice over cocktails with the slightly condescending air of someone bemused by the inexplicable squeamishness of others. You know who you are, you prudish, myth- and ignorance-propagating others.
Then comes the scene where a grandmother ties a set of what are referred to as "thunder beads" around her neck, mistaking them for a necklace - to the great amusement and shock of the other guests at a bridal shower demonstration of what are sometimes coyly referred to as "marital aids."
"What are those?" the girl asks.
PANIC: "What are what?" I say. The scene drags on.
"Those," she says. "The thing the grandmother has tied around her neck like a necklace."
OBFUSCATION: "Hmmm? I wasn't paying attention. I didn't really hear."
"Thunder beads," the girl says. She shifts her attention from the television screen to my face with the perfect instincts of a child who suspects she is being misled.
MORE OBFUSCATION: "I'm really not sure," I say. "I have never heard of 'Thunder Beads'." I give myself one point for truthfulness, even if it is a hair-splitting sort of truth.
"Yes, but what do you think they are?" she says, demonstrating one of the pitfalls of Take Your Daughter to Work Day in a family full of journalists.
Her newsroom skills are impressive. She rephrases the question, hones in on the ambiguity in my answers and pushes me to the wall. She is relentless. "I have never heard of thunder beads," I repeat. She allows an uncomfortable pause to build into silent pressure, until finally, I find myself CAREENING WILDLY INTO THE SHOALS OF TOO MUCH INFORMATION.
The discussion that follows includes the following: masturbation, orgasm, batteries. I cannot tell you exactly how I managed to bring it to an end, except to say that there was very little in my soliloquy to recommend my skills as a parent, as a native English speaker or as a sexually-literate adult.
Later, I recount my ordeal to Mr. Kamikaze, who is as sympathetic as always. "Jesus," he says, "you were one stammer away from describing double penetration."
That is ridiculous. It never even came up. And I have learned my lesson, which is this: As a parent you must anticipate every possible question, compose eloquent, age-appropriate explanations and be ready to give them at a moment's notice, possibly from 3 x 5 index cards that you have prepared in advance.
I am just kidding of course. I have only prepared one card. It says: Go Ask Daddy.
from the Sex Ed archives: Sex, Lies and Pomeranians
I had to look up the meaning of double penetration. I had to look up the meaning of thunder beads. I’m clueless. I’m not a user of either and I HOPE ALL TO HELL the little woman isn’t either. We got one toy in my bedroom and it don’t need batteries.
Okay, real quick answer: Thunder beads are used by Tibetan monks in the ceremony of praying for rain.
Posted by: Audubon Ron | July 02, 2009 at 12:38 PM
I've been lurking for a few months, but I need to come out of the closet, so to speak. Thank you for the best laugh I've had all year!
Posted by: Megan | July 02, 2009 at 04:20 PM
This encounter reminds me of the time I was trying to explain some sexual thing to Grace and I mentioned missionary position. She covered her face with her hands and said, "There's more than one position?" Oh, I had careened wildly!
Posted by: Paulita | July 02, 2009 at 04:34 PM
I saw that movie, and can't even remember which one it was. I remember the scene because I had no idea what thunder beads were. I still don't, and am afraid to google it. I'm such a prude.
My hubby is unwilling to deflect any question, so he told my persistent 5 year old "the man puts his penis into the woman's vagina". I heard about this later and about died. If you didn't go there, you're probably okay.
Posted by: all things BD | July 02, 2009 at 07:10 PM
Oh flip. I would have just wet myself as I laughed myself silly. My kids just die of shame now and won't ask me ANYTHING. It's kinda handy. Thanks for the laugh.
Posted by: Leanne | July 02, 2009 at 08:10 PM
I would be prone to all three, most definitely including over-explaining. So far, with my persistent five yr old, I have deflected deflected deflected. "Yes but HOW does the baby get out?" is a very difficult question that I have skilfully avoided answering several times now. Most because I am pretty sure that if I give a real answer, it will immediately be followed by "Yes, but HOW did the baby get IN?" which I am in no way prepared to answer for him yet. Or possibly ever.
Posted by: MommyTime | July 02, 2009 at 09:28 PM
When my five year old daughter asked me how her baby brother got into my stomach, I panicked and told her, "Daddy knows magic."
Lame, lame, lame!
Posted by: Jess | July 06, 2009 at 11:30 AM
We had that converstaion or one very like it during another PG 13 movie, Just Married with Ashton Kutcher and Brittany Murphy. Oh it's all fun and games until something they plug into the wall at the 12th century castle they are honeymooning at causes the electric to go out all over Belgium. Wasn't that a hair dryer? I remember saying as blankly as possible...
Posted by: nthnglsts | July 06, 2009 at 04:37 PM
no no no no no no...
Tell me what movie so that I can avoid it.
Posted by: Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah | July 07, 2009 at 06:30 PM
The movie was "Made of Honor" (PG-13) and if I had done my homework, the warnings were all there...
Posted by: Suburban Kamikaze | July 08, 2009 at 08:44 AM
wow. I said to my daughter yesterday, " I don't understand why boys manage to pee all over the toilet seat, I mean...they've got POINTERS"
Her response "I wish you wouldn't say stuff like that to me"
Send help. I think I'm careening into the shoals of TMI
Posted by: Lynette | July 10, 2009 at 11:24 PM
'...one stammer away from describing double penetration.' Oh, Jayzus--I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. Please thank your husband for me.
Posted by: eurolush | August 12, 2009 at 08:10 AM
"When my five year old daughter asked me how her baby brother got into my stomach, I panicked and told her, 'Daddy knows magic'."
Sooner or later, you're going to have to explain to her about his "magic wand." Good luck.
Posted by: Neal Deesit | September 15, 2009 at 04:43 PM
I give all the questions to my husband. While he gives way too much info, I sit there quietly and turn nine shades of red...
Posted by: Rhonda | January 02, 2010 at 08:51 PM
Well - well- well.. I guess this movie has created lots of teenage questions, as my 13 year old daughter and I were watching - I too got the question "what are thunder beads".??
My response: with a grin on my face- because let's face it kids talk about these things better she know the right answer- ( as I recall being educated in what a "Twinkie" was- I googled the answer and discretly showed it to my daughter - she read, looked at me wide eyed and said - EWE!!! ( thank god- for that answer)in which I replied " any questions??"
And so question asked - answer delivered and myself and google wait patiently for the next question ;)
Thank god for the Internet!!!!!!
Posted by: Nancy | September 01, 2010 at 04:22 AM
Sublime lecture, merci !!!
Posted by: Arrondir a Domicile | January 15, 2014 at 11:47 PM
You should have said, "Big beads".
Posted by: Rosa | August 29, 2015 at 05:53 AM