Monday, May 3, 2010

Elmo Makes An Interesting Topic of Dinner Conversation

The good news: my two older boys have paid attention and learned a lot from the puberty education/sex ed they have had in school.

The bad news: they have paid attention and learned a lot from the puberty education/sex ed they have had in school.

My seventh grader has been studying genetics in science. He is doing a fun project involving Sesame Street characters, where different traits are genetically passed down to babies created from two parents. These traits include lip color, body color, eye placement, nose color, etc. It seems to be a fun and very visual way of learning about dominant characteristics and smacks just enough of reproduction to make it very interesting to a thirteen year old.

My seventh grader was explaining how this all works over dinner the other night. It was just my two older boys, myself and my husband. My youngest wasn't home.

I was following the conversation with part of my brain while the other parts were preoccupied by a busy stressful day and also by something I had heard on NPR earlier which I found fascinating and wanted to talk about.

So when I heard my middle son say something like, "You can't beat the fastest swimmer," I launched into what I had learned that day about being the fastest or best at something.

"Did you know that it takes something like 10,000 hours of practice at something to get really really good at it? That's a lot of practice! And it's not just any practice, it's concentrated practice, you have to focus. You know . . ."

I took a bite of pizza and looked up to see both boys staring at me, faces white. My husband, with eyes wide, interrupted me, saying "I don't know what YOU are talking about, but WE are talking about sex!"

Amidst all the laughter I was flummoxed. It slowly dawned on me, the implications of my 10,000 hours of concentrated practice comment. I think I actually felt a blush coming over me. One of my kids had made a joke about sex and it went right over my head. I'm really not ready for this kind of role-reversal. But the boys and my husband, they thought this was one of the most hilarious things ever.

I tried to think how to redeem the situation. I had just mistakenly extolled the virtues of many many hours of practice with sex. "Well," I said, "you just don't want to be a father before your time."

"Oh God! MOM!!" they shouted, wanting me to just stop.

So last night, when the topic of Sesame Street genetics came up again over dinner, I was determined to keep my mouth shut. My oldest showed us a round piece of paper.

"Look, this is Elmo's sperm."

This was followed by hysterical laughter from all the boys, which went on for at least the next hour.

I've said it before:

Boys. I really don't get them sometimes.
I will never look at this picture in the same way again.

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