My son, Aidan, provides me with a lot of funny writing material – which hopefully is as entertaining to you, as it is to me. This particular parent-child moment took place in winter, about a year ago….
I glanced at the clock, probably for the tenth time in the last half hour. I don’t think I had experienced this kind of time drag since I was in hard labor with my firstborn, and was told that it would be another hour before the doctor could administer the epidural. And also like that day, this one had been long and taxing, and I was ready for it to be over. I no longer had the energy to break up any more fights between my two children, or repeat myself like a psychotic mental patient.
My stamina hadn’t been up to par since the autumn time change. As a result of setting the clocks back one hour, I had lost all ability to gauge time. The afternoons were getting darker, and the evening hours seemed to drag on forever. Sometimes I would look at the clock, expecting to find the time nearing eight in the evening, and be startled when I found the small hand still stubbornly pointing to the six.
But my hours of clockwatching had finally paid off. It was 7:55 and there were just five more minutes to go until I put my six year-old son, Aidan, to bed. Part of me felt guilty about reveling in the arrival of his bedtime like a little kid on Christmas morning, but that was being quelled by the other part of me that felt entitled to a few minutes free from repetitive directives and refereeing.
Most adults would naturally round the time up, call it eight o’clock, and usher the child to bed. But I had learned from previous attempts that rushing bedtime was futile because a six year-old relishes those five small minutes prior to bedtime as though each moment holds the potential for something magical to happen, and Aidan wasn’t about to miss a trick.
I curse the day he learned how to tell time. Looking back, I can remember being so proud that he had grasped onto the concept of time so effortlessly. After showing him just a few examples on a toy clock, he was able to move the hands to indicate any time I requested. Well, as the old proverb states, pride goeth before the fall. And tonight, I was either going to fall into bed, or into a bottle of wine, whichever came first.
At eight o’clock (on the dot) I walked Aidan upstairs to his room. As I peeled back his covers, I could feel the call of sleep. I was exhausted.
“Mommy, you know what?” Aidan asked as he climbed into bed.
“No, what?” I asked half-heartedly because I couldn’t voice what was really going through my mind – I don’t care. Go to sleep. (Mean, but true).
“My friend Sam told me something at school today.”
I was getting the sneaking suspicion that Aidan was attempting to stall bedtime. Well, nothing doing kiddo, it’s 8:02, and you’re on my time now. “Oh yeah?” I asked, but again, didn’t really care about the answer.
“Yeah. He told me that there are different names for…. down there.” He whispered conspiratorially and pointed at his crotch.
Immediately, I pictured a scene from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Kindergarten Cop. In the movie, Arnold is an undercover cop posing as a kindergarten teacher. When he walks into the classroom for the first time, he gets a small taste of just how difficult five year-olds can be to interrogate. During his questioning, a little boy stands up and randomly informs the class that boys have a penis, and girls have a vagina. In case you never felt compelled to watch an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie (can’t say I blame you), here’s a clip of the scene – skip to the 1:00 mark if you don’t want to see the intro….
Every kid makes the distinction between the sexes eventually, and it looked like it was Aidan’s turn. I didn’t want to steal his thunder and clue him into the fact that I had been in on that particular bit of information for quite some time, so I played dumb.
“Really?” I asked, and wondered if he was going to shyly stumble over the words penis and vagina, or just blurt them out the way the little boy had in the movie.
“Yeah, like nuts and balls….” He said matter-of-factly.
So much for making the distinction between the sexes.
I don’t know if Aidan had any other revelations to share, because I was laughing too hard to ask. The next two minutes were lost in an absolute helpless fit of laughter. The kind of laughter when tears roll down your cheeks and you bounce back and forth between loud bursts of sound, and silence because you can’t gather enough breath in your lungs to make noise. Aidan soon joined in, and was laughing along with me (or maybe it was at me), which only made me laugh harder. The couple of times I managed to get a hold of myself for a second or two, Aidan would let out a giggle, and it would send me back into hysterics all over again.
I’m not sure why hearing my six year-old say “nuts and balls” struck me as so funny. Perhaps because the words came so far out of left field, and looked so utterly wrong coming out of his sweet little face. It was an incongruity, like those pictures you see of infants inadvertently sticking up their middle finger.
But I really shouldn’t have been surprised. Aidan has always had the ability to make me laugh, even when I think I’m physically incapable of doing so. His sense of humor is like an innate survival mechanism that’s triggered whenever he senses that the people responsible for his well-being are nearing the end of their rope. It’s a gift that will serve him well if he ever chooses to marry someday. I think if more men had it, the divorce rate would plummet.
As I closed the door of Aidan’s bedroom, I was still chuckling to myself. I quickly went downstairs and reiterated the story to my husband, Kevin. After he finished laughing, he asked me if I had told Aidan not to use those words to describe his anatomy. Oops. I guess the sophomoric idiot in my head was laughing too hard to allow the responsible parent time to speak up.
Looking back, I probably should have gently reprimanded Aidan so as to avoid any future embarrassments. And also to clue him into the fact that little boys who still watch Spongebob Squarepants should not use language found in Jackass The Movie. But sometimes there are more important things than life lessons – laughter is one of them. The lesson will come later if he ever tries to use those words in front of his grandparents.