We live within walking distance of Dan's work, which is why we are still in our Green Acres rental after six years of living here. When he forgets something he needs, it is an easy drive-by on our way to the library, or better yet, an excuse to get out for a walk in the middle of the day. Such was the case one day this last spring, when the girls and I found ourselves on a walk uptown to drop something off. The girls were excited to show me the "short-cut", ducking down an alley behind the parking garage, winding past a few parking spaces and dumpsters to a walled-in courtyard behind the theater building. It was a typical trash-strewn alley in a college town, and I should mention that the "uptown" is also basically the middle of campus. It is the night-time stomping ground of all of the undergraduate peacocks and peahens on the make, stumbling their way from dorm to tavern to tavern. This might help you understand my reaction when Ani, who was holding my hand, suddenly exclaimed, "Oooh! Balloons!"
Wait for it...
Are you with me? I immediately began to tug at her hand, because of course she had stopped. Ani, though a quickly-growing nine, still has her focus on the ground, constantly scoping for treasure. Her hand is often slipping into my pocket to deposit stones, seeds, and other pretties. So my mind sped along to the logical conclusion, and I panicked. "Don't touch those!" Tug, tug, tug. She reluctantly came with me, but wanted to know WHY? Why shouldn't she touch those balloons?
I try for full disclosure about these things, often waiting for them to come up naturally. But when they do, I go for it, figuring we'll have these conversations many times before they actually start to make any sense. So I launched into a breathless, "Well, when a man and a woman want to have sex but don't want to make a baby or share diseases, they use this rubbery thing called a condom to catch the sperm, and it looks a whole lot like a balloon that hasn't been blown up, and when it is used, not in its package, it is dirty and you really don't want to be touching it. Kind of like you don't want to be picking up someone else's snotty tissue."
(How did I do? I mean, on the fly and being in the alley and all?)
There is silence. Dead silence. Deep thinking kind of silence. Somehow it is all such big news that she miraculously seems to miss the obvious question of WHY human beings would be having sex in an alley, even though I somehow prolonged the conversation with a throw-away, "Hmph. I applaud them for being responsible and having safe sex. But really, don't they care about the earth?"
We make our delivery, and head back through the alley, and Ani stops in her tracks, again gazing at the ground. I catch up to her in time to hear her say, "Really? That's what these are for?" and I look down at my feet and see twenty or so tiny smurf-blue waterballoons scattered on the bricks.
I can't get anything out, I'm laughing so hard. Little and blue. And that, my friends, is the kind of information I've been giving my kids about the facts of life.
Yay! Another post for November!