Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Big Question...

“I think I muffed it,” I said to Neil on the phone.  Fortunately, he was too polite to agree. 
It wasn’t like I didn’t know this day was coming.  It’s the day that haunts parents’ dreams.  It’s the question that you always secretly hope they’ll ask the other parent.  I suppose it’s inevitable. And I even had a good warning, since she’d danced around the edges of the question with her grandma a few weeks previously.  And of course, with several new babies in the extended family this year, it was bound to be on her mind.  I’d thought about what I would say.  I actually felt pretty good about my preparedness.  I’d discussed it with other parents who have faced the issue themselves.  But with all this, I must say, I wasn’t completely prepared for the question at 7a.m. this morning. 
“Mama,” said my daughter out of the blue, “How does a baby get out of the mommy’s tummy without breaking it?” 
<Ah, yes,> I thought.  <Here it is.  Deep breath, Bethi, you’re up to this challenge, even if you’ve only had one cup of coffee this morning.>
“Well, sweetie,” I said with what I hoped was relative calm in my voice, “God designed mommies with a special place that opens when it is time for the baby to come out.” 
“Oh…” said Juli.  She sounded a bit disappointed.  “Is that how I was born?”
“Well, no,” I said truthfully, “You were in a funny position and the doctor didn’t think you should come out like that, so he decided to take you out of my stomach through a little opening he made under my bellybutton.” 
My daughter’s eyes lit up.  “You mean he CUT your tummy open?!?  With a KNIFE?!?”  She leaned forward expectantly, “With a BIG knife?!?” 
“Um, well, no, honey,” I said a little hesitantly.  This conversation was taking a turn I hadn’t quite anticipated!  “He just made a little incision with a special little knife.  And out you came, just as cute…”
“You mean a SPECIAL knife that didn’t hurt?” Juli interrupted, “And he made a hole in your tummy?” 
“Well, no,” I explained, “He gave me a shot before he cut so that it wouldn’t hurt me.”
“Oooh!” said my bright-eyed daughter, “A SHOT!  A shot right in your TUMMY?!?”
“Um, well, actually, the shot was in my back.” I continued, trying to figure out how I got into this in the first place. 
“Ohhh…” said Juli, “A shot into your BACK… where? And did it HURT?  And it made you go to sleep?” 
“No, I didn’t go to sleep.” I said, “It just made my tummy and legs sort of fall asleep so they didn’t feel any pain when the doctor got you out.” 
“Oh, you mean when he cut you open with the special knife?  Did it BLEED?  Where did he cut you?  Can I see?” 
Right about this point, I’m thinking my daughter is a bloodthirsty little ghoul.  This conversation didn’t go at ALL like I had planned.  And I’m totally wishing I’d told her to ask Daddy, although he said he would probably just tell her the stork brought the baby.  Although if he had, she probably would have wanted to know if the stork had cut the baby out with a knife. 
I just can’t wait to hear her report this to Nana on the phone.  However she tells it, I just know the part about the knife will be told with relish and gusto.  Maybe we’re not looking at a lawyer after all.  She sure does seem interested in cutting things open.  Doctor?  Surgeon?  Or maybe a butcher.   
Can’t WAIT for the next question and answer session. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ah, the potty dance...

“No, Mama,” said Juli, dancing around with her legs crossed, “I don’t have to go to the bathroom.” 
“Juli…” I said, freezing her with a look, “Don’t lie to me – go potty right now.” 
“Okay…” she said with a longing look toward her toys.  “But, Mama, how did you know I was lying?” 
Well, let’s see now, Juli.  Maybe it was the way you didn’t quite meet my eyes when you said that.  Maybe it was the little dance you were doing.  Maybe it was the inflection in your voice when you protested?  Okay, so that’s a pretty easy lie to spot, I bet all moms of toddlers would get that one.  But I vividly remember teaching a young child years ago and NOT spotting the telltale signs of the potty dance before she sat on my lap.  Ah, experience. 
It’s funny, but this ability to spot these things is not confined to your own children, or even children you see on a regular basis.  I spotted a little girl in Target the other day with a strained look and the whole crossed legs, fidgety thing going on.  Her mother was chatting with someone and happily oblivious, but I guarantee you, I wasn’t the only one in the store noticing it.  I’m betting the security guards watching the monitors were already gearing up to get someone over there with a mop just in case the mom didn’t notice in time. 
Somehow, somewhere along the way, I figured out a way to tell if my daughter has to go to the bathroom without strip searching her and probing her stomach to see if her bladder is full.  And I can tell if she’s lying or hiding something with pretty good accuracy.  Most kids get better at hiding things as they get older – but most involved parents get better at predicting.  I know my parents always seemed to know when something was amiss.  Sheesh, even my husband can spot any prevarication on my part a mile away. 
“Honey, did you rest today?” 
“Um, well, uh, MOSTLY…” 
There are other lies out there that aren’t as easy to spot, but we figure them out pretty quickly. 
Juli!  Did you just hit your brother??” 
“Uh…. No?” 
“Juli… did you take a cookie without asking?” 
“Um… well, I think Alex did that.” 
“Juli, is your room clean?” 
“Um… well… are you going to go check it?” 
And then are the times when they flash you that guilty look and you know they’re up to SOMETHING – you just don’t know what.  It just takes a few questions to get to the bottom of it. 
So what does this have to do with anything?  Well, Neil and I were discussing TSA the other day – and whether we would go through the body scanner or have a physical search – and while we didn’t agree on what we would personally do if faced with the TSA choice at the airport, we did agree on one thing – there HAS to be a better way to do security.  Let’s see, a naked picture or some extended groping.  What a fun thought.  Welcome to America.  For now, the two of us are determined to avoid recreational flying.    
Talk about an inefficient way to spot a liar or a terrorist!  Let’s just randomly select a bunch of preschoolers and feel their tummies to see if they have to go to the bathroom!  I don’t profile my students (although I must say, the youngest ones do seem the most susceptible to accidents, sorry if I just offended anyone…), but I do ask some of them from time to time if they have to go to the bathroom.  I don’t randomly select them… I read the signs.  (And I haven’t had an accident in my living room for a long time.) 
I read an article about how the Israelis government screens for terrorism in their airports – they train their agents to spot people who are nervous or lying.  What an excellent idea!  But does it work?  Well, they haven’t had a breach in security since 2002.  That’s a pretty good track record, I’d say.  (Check out if you want to read an article on it) 
Maybe the government needs to spend some time on training their people to spot liars, smugglers, and terrorists.  If they can’t get the Israelis to come train us, I bet they could hire some moms…