Lori Clinch

Are We There Yet?

Talking the birds, the

bees and basketball

Since all of our children are boys, I didn’t think that I should be the one to give them the talk about the birds and the bees.

Personally, I thought the responsibility of that talk should fall squarely on their father’s shoulders.

“Well, what do you want me to say?” he asked the first time I brought it up.

“I don’t know, start out with something light and airy.”

“Maybe I could start out with sports and lead up to it,” my husband replied somberly.

“Yeah, that’s a good idea. Start out with the batter, run him to first base and tell him that nobody, but nobody, ever gets to run to second unless he has a wedding ring, a good feel for the Dow, and a man who can put him in touch with a low-cost dental plan.”

“This sounds hard; why don’t you do it?”

“Because we decided long ago that you would talk to the boys and I would take the girls.”

“But, we don’t have any girls.”

“Looks to me like you drew the short straw.”

“But that’s not fair.”

“Okay,” I said in an attempt to humor him, “we’ll do this mathematically. Pick a number between one and 10.”

“Four,” he said with great determination.

“That ain’t it. You lose.”

“What was your number?”

“Seven,” I replied without missing a beat, “and the real number was eight, so mine was closer and I win.”

He never knew what hit him.

I was sitting on the couch and enjoying a quiet moment when my husband returned from the basement. He looked happy, unscathed and he was whistling. “Well,” I asked, “how’d that go?”

“How did what go?”

“The talk?” I replied with disgust.

“Oh, we never actually had the talk. There’s a great basketball game on, though. Do you want to come and watch it with us?”

Three more years passed without us making an attempt to brave the reproductive waters. Our friends spoke openly about the conversations that they had with their children regarding intimacy, and the TV was full of ads with parents initiating the conversation as the kids listened attentively. It seemed as though everyone else’s talks ended with a warm embrace, a grateful child and a parent who beamed with pride from a job well done.

I finally decided that I could put it off no longer and that I might as well jump in with both feet and get this over with. I thought about it all day while my child was at school. I ran the introduction to my speech through my head, anticipated his response and rounded up my imaginary conversation with an expression of love and a big hug.

I was alone in the kitchen when my subject passed through. Could this be the right time, I asked myself. Had the powers that be sent him here so that we could finally talk about the forces of nature? Part of me hoped that my child would keep right on trucking, but instead of walking in one door and out the other, he paused to spin a basketball on his finger tip as he said, “Hey Mom, watch this!”

“Honey,” I started as I fumbled for words. My heart was racing, my hands were trembling and when I spoke my voice was hoarse and cracked in the middle. “Do you think that it’s time that you and I have a talk about intimacy?”

“Nah, I’m good,” he replied as he continued to spin the basketball. “Check this out!” He took the ball, passed it off one finger and kept it spinning as he placed it on another, and said with a wide grin, “Now, is that cool or what?”

“Unbelievable,” I remarked dully as I built up the confidence to blurt out my next and well-thought-out sentence. “Honey, the people on TV said that we’re supposed to talk to you about the birds and the bees.”

“Mother!” my child exclaimed. He stopped his spinning basketball and stared at me as if he were overcome with disbelief that a thought like that could actually enter my mind.

“It’s just that you’re young and you’re bound to have incidents and…”

“Does Dad know that you’re talking to me like this?” he asked. Then he shook his head, tucked his basketball under his arm and left the room in disgust.

“You can always come to me!” I shouted down the hallway after him.

He’s bound to come back eventually, and when he does, I’ll make sure his father is ready for him.

Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her at www.loriclinch.com.