“So why do girls have that, Mom, two butts?”
I was mixing pancake batter for breakfast.
Kenny can have this way of continuing a conversation from months before. This thread had its origin a good year ago, on a 90-degree summer day, when I’d found myself having to explain the anatomical differences between boys and girls – Kenny had seen a little front “butt” on his friend’s butt-naked two-year-old sister running through a sprinkler. As my boys have no little sisters and are not often around toddlers, this proved more of a revelation than I’d been prepared for.
I’d apprised my then 6-year-old of the proper anatomical name for that little tiny front bare “butt.” Clueless, really, as to whether I was far behind in such anatomical enlightenments.
But over the long course of this past winter, he seemed to have forgotten that – the details. It may have been too big a word to remember. Like Virginia. Or vertigo.
In any case, it’s quite challenging simultaneously to perfectly time flipping a pancake and recollect a conversation from a year ago. I had to think back a minute. Two butts?
Then he reminded me, by pointing down south – with a wooden croquet mallet, a perfect long pointer (a moment earlier, this child’s mallet, dug up from the recesses of an old toy box, had made for a great pretend sword).
I know in this day and age, I may be trying to preserve an innocence I can’t otherwise, as they’ve already outgrown actual toys (outside of mallets) in preference to our old iPhones and new ipads. So I didn’t actually answer his butt question. Maybe because I was burning the pancakes, and it was easier to remind them to eat their cups of frozen blueberries (the only way they’ll eat some fruits, ice solid) than to launch into the anatomical details of why this front butt is not really a butt. Nor a virginia nor a vertigo. Nor a vermilion.
I mean, well, when you think about it, it is just another butt. Just a miniature version of the bigger one…ok, never mind.
Instead, I slipped the easy way out, through the swinging back door of faith-based generalities: “That’s how God made us.”
Kenny crinkled his nose. “You have one too?”
I didn’t particularly care for his look of pure disgust. And I couldn’t bring myself to say yes.
Thankfully, his older brother came to the anatomical rescue: “She’s a girl, dumbo, what do you think?” His lips were purple from eating frozen blueberries.
Kenny wacked him in his own butt with his “sword.”
“I know she’s a girl,” Kenny said. “So are Rosey and Bochella. So they have the little butt things too.”
Rosey and Bochella. The only other female estrogen producing family members – our gerbils.
Then the whole conversation was forgotten as I took away the mallets explaining they were meant for playing crochet and I would teach them the proper way of playing the game another day.
Somehow, we always are able to move on from these questions that make me squirm in my parental seat. Yet these questions continue to tunnel like moles who occasionally do actually rear their heads above ground; often over breakfast, as on another morning when Ryan, between too-big mouthfuls of pancake asked: “Mom, what does sexy mean?”
“What?” I was preparing their school lunches by then. I held a buttered knife poised in the air.
“Dennis read my palm and said it said sexy. And if you read a palm and it says sexy, that means girls like you.”
Dennis was also the kid who taught Ryan the word “boobies.” Which had brought us back around to the issue of butts and whether girls actually have three sets rather than just two.
“Sexy” is not a word I relish hearing coming out of my son’s pancake eight-year-old mouth. I did not address this question at all. Instead, I told the boys before school they had to go pick up their Legos and gather up all their cheesestick wrappers littering the house. If they didn’t, they’d lose their one hour of daily computer gaming time.
This always sends them scampering off.
And I could breath again. Because I far more prefer actually much harder, unanswerable questions such as “How did God get to be alive in the first place?”