Every once in a while, I have a Single Parent Moment that leaves my married parent friends shaking their heads in amazement and quiet relief that they are not in my boat. Last week, I had such a moment.
James and I have been on-again, off-again for just over a year now. My daughters, aged 10 and 8, have known him for many years, became reacquainted with him before we started dating last September, and have been mostly unaware of our relationship ups and downs. To them, he has been a constant over the last year. They know him, they like him, they have vacationed with him, and for the last few months, they have known that we sometimes spend the night together. But he has never stayed over at my house when my girls are also there.
Until last week.
I decided it was time, so I told the girls that James would be coming over, was going to spend the night, and that he’d be there when they awoke in the morning. My youngest, Bryn, teased me about it with a grin. Sabrina, my 10-year-old, shrugged.
James arrived as I was putting Sabrina to bed. He let himself in the open front door and shouted up his hellos to us all. And then it began:
Sabrina: So, is James coming over to have a drink with you?
Me: Yes, and remember I told you that he’s going to spend the night tonight?
Sabrina: Uh-huh. So…. are you guys gonna have sex?
I wish I could report that I responded maturely and gracefully, but I’d be lying. What I did instead… was laugh. Yes, that’s right. I laughed. I giggled until I had tears squeezing from the corners of my eyes and I was clutching my tummy. At first, Sabrina looked at me, puzzled, but then she started laughing, too. We ended up lying on her bed, clutching each other amidst fits of giggles. It was ridiculous.
Eventually I recovered, and, wiping my tears of silliness away, replied thusly:
Me: Baby, I’m a grown-up and you’re a child, and so who I do or don’t have sex with isn’t something we are going to discuss. In fact, who I do or don’t have sex with isn’t really anyone else’s business except for the man I’m involved with. That’s not even a question that other grown-ups typically ask each other. And, when you’re a grown-up, whether and with whom you’re having sex won’t be any of my business either. Do you understand?
Sabrina: Hmmm…. Yes, I think so. I guess I feel like it should be my business if I’m going to end up with a little baby brother or sister.
This dramatically illustrated the fact that, while I have instructed her quite a bit about the biology of sex, I haven’t quite gotten around to the idea that adults have sex for reasons other than procreation of the species… So I punted and went with what I had:
Me: I can absolutely, positively assure you that you will not be gaining a little brother or sister.
Sabrina: Phew. Okay. That’s really good news. Thanks, Mom.
Me: Sure, baby. Anytime.
There is so much about single parenting that is surreal. So many conversations that I never imagined having, so many events that I never pictured, so many moments altered by the simple, pivotal fact that their father and I no longer live together. Parenting is always something of an exercise in Extreme Winging It, but single parenting throws in the extra curve balls. Just for fun.
I am sure that there will be many more moments such as that one, many more conversations that leave me speechless or giggling at the absurdity of the situation. But I feel quite certain that, even if I should live another 42 years, I will never, ever, ever forget the night my 10-year-old asked me if I was going to have sex.
14 responses to “yowza.”
LOL … lucky you inadvertently picked precisely the safe response: laughter!
You’re lucky though. I suspect mine would have called me out on the “Baby, I’m a grown-up and you’re a child, and so who I do or don’t have sex with isn’t something we are going to discuss…” line. I doubt I’d have left the room without blushing from the kind of inquisition that only kids can do when you know you want to desperately change the subject and the little limpets have you in their grasp.
SD, I always turn it around on them when begin to feel that they have a right to comment or decide on aspects of my life to which they do not have that right. Another recent example with Sabrina was when she told me not long ago that she doesn’t want her dad to marry Debbie, his girlfriend. I explained that it was not her choice whom he married or didn’t , just as when she is an adult, her choice in marrying or not will be her choice alone. That put an end to that nonsense. 🙂
I’m sorry if I’ve missed it. How old are they?
I have a friend who now lies in Phoenix and he said that as his 5 kids got older, they gave him new things to worry about. That baby monitor you used when the kids were little? It didn’t occur to him one of them might put the sending unit in HIS room. 🙂 Be grateful that the kids are still young enough to not cause you *those* kind of worries yet!
That is hilarious. I love how kids just ask – she wanted to know, right, so she asked! You handled it well, I’ll keep that response in mind in case I ever need to haul it out with my kids.
Funniest part might have been James’ reaction after I got downstairs and told him. 🙂 I thought he was going to sleep on the sofa after that! He looked like a teenage boy who’s just been busted by his girlfriend’s dad. 🙂
Maybe it’s just me and since I’m married, my response is completely different. We here tell the kids to go to bed so we can get nekkid. 😆
Sounds like you handled it just right. I would have probably said “Yes. Not that it’s any of your business……” 😆
Or maybe “Why do you want to know?” Kids sometimes ask stuff for reasons that often don’t have much to do with the actual topic, or are indirectly (or directly, lol) related to the actual question.
In this case, your smart dd was able to get to crux of her concern very quickly. Although, in my case, I can see the conversation taking a turn into contraception….. 😆
Funny how James reacted! 😀
Exactly, TT! My married friends don’t have this problem at all. 🙂
I try to avoid “Why do you want to know” with my 10-year-old because she shuts down very easily if she thinks she’s overstepped or done something she shouldn’t. Had I asked her that, she likely would have replied, “No reason. Never mind.” 😦
Boy, am I glad I read this post so I know what to do when that moment comes for me! I like the practicality of the question: “It IS kind of my business if I wind up with a little brother or sister.” Awesome!
Glad to see this dating after divorce thing will progress for me beyond awkward first dates into awkward subsequent dates. 😉
Haha! Yes, it was a very practical concern and at least I know that my lessons on the fact that sex leads to babies hit their mark! 🙂 Now for the contraception conversation…..
Hilarious! I love her straight forward reasoning, it totally is her business if a new baby could be on the horizon. LOL!
Thanks for sharing!
Yes, Sabrina is always pragmatic. If she thought a baby were coming, she’d shift into readying mode. 🙂
My daughter will ask me questions about sex, some toss me directly in front of a bus, no brakes, no warning, just “BLAP!”… She asked me something a while back and I gave her an answer, she says, “Have you ever done that with daddy?”
I hesitated because I wasn’t prepared for the question and she goes, “oooh you did!” I said, that is none of your business, it’s private. LOL ! They seem to know more than we do these days, which I’d rather her ask me than some one else. This is such an excellent post. 🙂
I was prepared for her to ask me the question, because it was the first thing I asked my mom when she gave me “the talk.” But I was completely thrown by her timing and her absolute candor! She is usually so awkward and uncomfortable around the subject, but this was so matter-of-fact. Geesh! I’m still blushing!!
LOL 🙂 Well good for you for not swallowing your face whole. I turned white I think, and even though I read up on these things prior, to have it come out of “my little girls” mouth… OMG… way too much, I mean I was hoping for like 16/17 years old for these questions! I think they started at around 10 maybe?
I understand on a logical level that it’s good she comes to me (and you of course) but my goodness. Yes, it’s the “matter of fact” thing. Very unnerving but good at the same time!