September 2, 2013
For those of us used to being in control, having children can be a very rude awakening. Not just when they are tiny and do not seem to understand the requirement to sleep soundly through the night, but as they get older and start to ask searching questions of you. Everyone anticipates the standard “Where do I come from?’ at some point, but less obvious ones like “What does sex feel like?” , ” What’s a blow job?” and “How do you know if you are ready to have sex?” can require some forethought to give an answer that bears repeating. Of course different children require different information at different times, but they never ever ask the questions when you are ready for them.
Small children particularly seem to have some inner compass that can spot a mortifying moment maker and will ask their burning question as you queue in the supermarket on a dull Thursday afternoon on the way home from school.
In the restaurant queue on the cross channel ferry one of ours piped up loudly “Why is that woman so fat?” It was said not out of malice or approbation, but simply out of curiosity. Trying to laugh it off and half pretending one hasn’t heard doesn’t wash with four year olds. They just keep asking. And will loudly formulate their own theories as to why if you don’t actually give them something to think about. One has a desire not to offend, but also to educate the children. One cannot simply lie. Ineffectual PC isms that ” People come in all shapes and sizes,” or “Don’t say fat, it’s rude” cut no mustard.
Unusually for these kind of questions, my husband was actually there at the time . To be honest I think it is virtually the only one he’s ever had to answer. I naturally deferred to him as part of his degree was about nutrition as he has never hesitated to remind us. And I was very glad to because every bloody ear in that queue was on full alert waiting for the answer.
He was masterful in response, sweeping the inquisitive child towards a table and starting his answer with a question about how many different types of food they could name and they were out of earshot by the time the real answer was given.
I say ‘real answer’ but without having heard it myself and knowing the numerous “Dad facts” the children have been fed over the years I am not sure of its validity. It may well mean that he told the child that the fat woman had probably eaten a balloon and every time she breathed in it got a bit bigger. It wouldn’t surprise me.