For our regular viewers, we're back! I learned how to track traffic numbers over the weekend, and I thought you might be interested to know that we have more almost tripled our readership since Episode One (155 readers) to Episode Three (532 readers). Thank you for coming back and bringing friends! I am having a blast writing again. If you have comments or wishes (Posts should be longer? Shorter? More frequent? Less frequent?) please leave a comment section, which has a link at the bottom of the post. But if you demand milk in a sippy cup after you've gone to bed, I'm not doing it. Nope. Just know that I have limits no matter how much you scream and cry. Maybe you'll get some water, though.
So here we go: Quick back track. We're in our 5th floor apartment on 87th street.
I'm holding take out menus and sweating it that I didn't pay closer attention to the science of reproduction. The door opens. Charlotte comes out of her room with the book. She is holding a place with her finger. “I have a question.”
I am able and ready. I am Judy Blume. I can answer sex questions directly and honestly. I can Google. I take a deep breath. “Shoot.”
Charlotte opens the book to what I like to refer to as “the centerfold.” It is a picture of a cartoon man and woman “doing it” under the covers, surrounded by floating hearts.
"So you are telling me that all that you and Daddy have to do is this," she points her sparkly pink fingernail at the cartoon of debauchery, "and I can have a brother or sister?"
I have to just stop right here. This was NOT what I was expecting her to say at all. I mean, I'm not going to lie, Charlotte has made some grumbling about being an only child, but I thought her question was going to be.....I don't know....something about swimming sperms or periods. I thought she might giggle and be uncomfortable with this adult world. I thought she wouldn't really get it and I, as the adult in charge, would have to find a way to make it understandable to a 9-year-old. I would teach her how to talk openly about it, channeling my inner Dr. Ruth. But no, of course, Charlotte read the book and totally understood it. She'd already applied the information for her own personal gain. I had underestimated her. She wasn't uncomfortable. She wasn't confused.
I was uncomfortable. I was confused. I looked at her sparkly finger-pointing at the man and woman--which now seemed intensely personal, as if the faces had changed from just a random cartoon man and woman to the actual faces of me and Rob. I felt a drop of sweat roll down my neck. I looked at the clock over the stove. 2 hours and 15 minutes until Rob got home from work. I was home alone with the questions and the mini Dr. Ruth.
"Uh." I practically giggled. "Well...I mean it's more complicated than that..." I knew I was in over my head. She was in charge now. She might as well swing a spot light over my head in the interrogation room; I was about to get the third degree.
She drummed her sparkly nail on the picture to punctuate her point. "I mean, I think it's gross, but I think you and Daddy should do it once so I can have a brother or a sister."
"Charlotte, we've talked about this. It's not that easy."
"That's what you always say. It is that easy. See?" Again the finger-pointing at what was now basically becoming my worst nightmare. "You do this and I get a brother or sister."
This wasn't a totally new topic. Charlotte had mentioned a sibling before--I think most "only children" go through it--but it had always seemed like a phase. Kind of like wanting a bunny at Easter time. Only in my experience, once the peeps get stale and the Easter baskets go back in storage, you forget about the smelly bunny.
This time seemed serious. Like it was Halloween and we were still talking about the bunny.
"Charlotte, let's talk about this." We sat down on the couch. I put the book aside. "What's going on?" To my surprise, giant tears started to roll down her face. Charlotte can seem like the most together kid on the planet, so when she loses it, I take notice immediately. The world stops spinning, and we sit down and conference until we come out the other side. We call our heart to heart talks "Slaying a tiger" because it feels like a scary and herculean task to get through it, but you have to do it or the tiger will eventually eat you alive. Once Charlotte opens up, "with tiger guts all over the place" as she likes to say, she has a total sense of relief, and I feel like a half way decent parent. I could see from the intensity and pain in her eyes, this Halloween bunny/ little brother or sister idea wasn't going away without a talk. Time to stop resisting. Time to slay a tiger.
To read the next blogisode in the series, go here.