Ah, Tweendom. Hopefully you enjoyed last week’s part one installment, link here, and are ready for part two of things that make my head explode while parenting a tween.
I really do think I’m a pretty cool mom, and of course thought that when my kids asked me questions about things I’d be able to maintain being super cool and give super smart answers. But with a tween I did not realize how “exciting” the questions would be …. and I certainly didn’t plan on being speechless -ever. If there’s one thing I love to do, it’s talk and have someone listen. But life is full of surprises.
So picture the scene – we’re in the car, we’ve been in the car for hours, and we’re in the middle of Queens. And we all need a restroom break, me, Brian, Alex and Katie. Of course the boys are complaining more, because boys are excellent complainers and girls are excellent at putting up with stuff (over generalization #412, I’m sure I’ll have a future blog post on this topic.) Mind you this is not the hip or cool part of Queens, so this isn’t really my favorite place to stop for a restroom break, and we’re theoretically only 30 minutes away from home. So after a few minutes of complaining, and silence, and complaining, and me trying to decide if we should indeed stop at a “We buy gold wedding rings” pawn shop to find a toilet, out of Alex comes this zinger: “I have to pee so bad my balls are going to explode.”
Essentially this sentence causes me to have a brain aneurism. I shake my head in complete confusion, and after a few fits and starts of me saying “wait, what, did you just? Did you? What?” Brian steps up to bat and says “There are two things wrong with that sentence.” Ah, yes, thank you, because I am speechless and dumbfounded. “One, in this family we do not say balls.” Phew. But then Alex answers before we can address the biologically inaccurate point, number two. “Oh, right right, I forgot. My COJONES are going to explode.”
Now I shift myself around in my seat, being careful not to lose control of my temper OR my bladder, and say, “Who told you to say Cojones?”, knowing full well the answer is driving my car, because he keeps shifting in his seat, and not because he needs a rest-stop.
Yup. I knew it. “Balls” is a ten-year-old-boy word. “Cojones” is a dad word. So I step in. “Cojones is just the Spanish word for balls. We shouldn’t use that either. It’s not really a polite way to talk.” This coming from the parents who taught their kid all the swear words on purpose (See What the French?). “So what am I supposed to call them? Penis?” Oh dear god I have failed as a parent. My child doesn’t know his own anatomy. Then, with Katie also in the car and listening to everything we say with rapt attention, we then proceed to cover the basics, the words penis and testicles are used repeatedly and an explanation of the bladder being a separate entity is discussed. I think we have everything covered. Then comes the question from Alex. “Well if my pee is in my bladder what do I have these testicles for anyway? Are they just a weakness?”
Yes. They are just a weakness. They are your Achilles heel. That is true for all men and it will be true for your entire life. Your testicles will forever be a weakness. And we can discuss their anatomical purpose later. Because Katie does not need to hear about this and I can’t discuss it anymore and my bladder will certainly burst along with my brain if we don’t start discussing something else. Like how I think stopping in NYC for lunch and a restroom break (and wine) is a much better plan than continuing all the way home to New Jersey. Get me OUT of the car NOW.
So if I were writing the parenting handbook, I’d tell you that I believe Tweendom truly is the in-between when the little kid answers aren’t enough anymore, but even when given a little more adult information, they’re still not quite there. And as a parent I’m not sure where I am either, or what I should be saying, or when I should give little kid answers or the grown up answers. One foot in, one foot out, and because there are feet all over the place, it’s really easy as a parent to trip and fall on my face. But in the meantime, I’ll continue to hope we can avoid the anatomy question car rides as much as possible. And when I’m locked in the car with nowhere else to go, hopefully I’ll forge some path that won’t be too full of potholes, or nonsense, or stories that my kids will need to discuss with their therapists later on. After all, I never got the secret handbook.