I TRY MY DARNEDEST NOT TO CORRUPT A CHILD
Anyone who thinks four-year-olds are not sexually aware has not met Chloe.
Chloe is Drew’s goddaughter, child of his best friends Margaret and Christian, whom he sees every week and who loves Drew like an uncle.
Chloe loves me, too, but more like a boyfriend.
Yes, she’s got what we call “a case of the Jerrys”. This weekend, Drew and I stopped by Margaret and Christian’s for a dip in the pool, and when we got out, Chloe raced through the house after me and threw open the door to the bedroom where I was about to get changed back into my dry clothes. “I just want to watch you,” she said.
“But I need to get changed.”
“Okay. I just want to watch you.”
She stood blocking the door, eyes wide, smiling innocently. I said about a hundred different things to get her out of the room. She said the same thing over and over. “I just want to watch you.”
So, I realized two things at that moment. One, somebody needs to have a talk with this girl. And two, it should be somebody other than me. I’m generally reluctant to give any Big Talks to someone else’s child, especially one where there are so many sticky issues involved. If you don’t say it right, the kid could get some warped message about body image and shame or who knows what. I don’t know what. I’m not a parent. I don’t know how to give these talks. When I have a kid, I’ll talk to them, but there’s a reason I don’t have kids yet, and it’s because I’m not ready to give these talks. So I got Drew to distract her, ran back to the bedroom and changed faster than I’ve ever changed in my life. (There are no locks on any of the doors in their house.)
Now, you might think, as I did, that there can be only one Awkward Moment of Budding Sexuality per child per day. Wrong. Apparently, these things come in clusters. Only a few minutes later, as we were baking cookies, Drew came up behind me, hugged me and kissed my neck.
Chloe burst out laughing. “He’s not a girl, silly!”
Okay, this was a talk I DEFINITELY didn’t want to have.
Margaret’s jaw dropped. Chloe had known Drew her whole life, but clearly, this issue had never come up before. Margaret didn’t waste any time explaining to Chloe that “sometimes, boys marry boys”.
It was hard not to imagine what it would be like if Drew and I did have kids someday. Would it work in reverse for us, with us having to explain why some other families had this person called “a Mommy” in them. Or that when they grow up, they might want to marry someone of the opposite sex, and that that was perfectly okay. We would have to give a lot of big talks in our house, and I’d have to be ready for that.
Drew was much better at tackling this issue head-on. He decided to demonstrate. “I love Jerry,” he told Chloe, “so I’m going to give him a kiss.” And he kissed me.
Chloe just watched, a little puzzled, a little jealous, a little disinterested.
I guess it wasn’t really what she wanted to watch me doing that day.