Kids. The ever-curious creatures we create and raise with all the love we have in our bodies. They ask questions. They ask weird questions. They ask inappropriate questions at the absolute worst times.
Even providing them with all the things they need in life, all of our love and sanity and fifteen thousand hours of the Frozen soundtrack – it doesn’t stop them from completely trashing our self-built, parenting skills in public. Oh no. In fact, it’s their hidden talent.
I’ve had my fair share of humiliating moments brought on by my children. It happens. They have zero filter, kind of like Roseanne Barr.
Just so we are clear – I’ve never claimed to be a perfect mother or have all the answers to kids tough questions. In honor of those imperfect moments, I’ve decided to share the tale of the Great Wiener Debate of 2016.
Miles, who was three at the time, Fisher, who was five, and I, a near thirty-something, were at the grocery store together. It was a perfectly normal morning.
Until I, having the bladder of a drunk chipmunk, had to pee.
Parenting Warning: When you have kids, you rarely get to pee alone. Sure you can close the door, but that doesn’t stop them from sticking their jelly-covered fingers under it, or singing “Do you wanna build a snowman,” right outside.
So in public, I try and keep SOME level of privacy to myself. We went into the stall, and I faced them in the opposite direction.
“Don’t touch anything. Stay standing. Don’t look.” I told them.
If you haven’t uttered this phrase to a kid in a public bathroom to deter them from crawling into someone else’s stall, touching the nasty tile or staring at you awkwardly while you pee, can you even say you’ve parented?! No.
Spoiler alert: I sit down to pee. I’m not a coordinated woman, and sometimes it’s the only time I get to sit down – bathroom breaks can be a mini vacation, if you will.
I have also unintentionally raised quasi-rebellious, and curious children by constantly being a good mother who encourages them to voice their opinions, chase their dreams and explore things they’re interested in.
And on this particular day – I immediately regretted my open-minded parenting style.
As soon as I’m sitting down, Miles turns around to talk to me. There’s a rapid double-take in horror, before he spins back around to face the wall, and very, very audibly to Fisher goes, “FISHER, MAMA DOESN’T HAVE A WIENER! WHY DOESN’T MAMA HAVE A WIENER?!”
Of course I try and shush him, but it’s too late. The conversation has moved forward rapidly.
Fisher: Miles, girls don’t have a wiener only boys get them
Miles: But Mama should have one!
Fisher: That’s not how it works
Miles: -turns around to me- Mama don’t you want a Wiener?!
I can hear giggles coming from other women in the bathroom, mainly because Miles can’t say his ‘r’ sounds very well and it comes out adorably, and because of the actual content of the conversation itself.
I know I’m done for. I’ve resigned to live, and die in this bathroom stall. I will never be able to leave it or show my face in Walmart again.
I am at a loss for words on how to answer. Because the non-adult part of me wants to respond with, “Um heck yeah. I’d love to be able to pee outside when we go camping without the constant fear of tipping over or peeing on my pants. Plus, I kinda wanna see what all the hype is about!” But the actual adult part of me knows that that response would take me down a rabbit hole I would never come out of with two giggly-little boys.
So I respond simply with, “No. I’m good, thanks.”
“No. I’m good, thanks?!” That was my response…AS IF I WERE POLITELY DECLINING A SECOND GLASS OF WINE AT DINNER! “Ah yeah pal, I’m gonna say hard pass on the wiener, but I will take another slice of pie, thanks.”
After my inept response, I collect myself and prepare to walk out into the open hand-washing-judgement-arena. Of course everyone standing there has a warm smile, it’s the south, we’d rather die than appear to be impolite – but I knew they were dying to laugh at the situation that just happened. I would be too.
I have found that laughter and pure avoidance is the best way to get through public humiliation with children. I laugh and shrug my shoulders, we wash hands and go on with our shopping. But that, my friends, was not the end of the discussion on why I do not have a wiener.
Did you think I’d get that lucky? Ha. That’s sweet of you, you must be from the south too.
When they finally stopped asking me – they began discussing with one another about why they think Mommies don’t have wieners! Even after my firm warning of, “Okay, that’s enough. We can talk about this at home…” I inadvertently spurred my favorite Miles-comment from the entire ordeal:
“Is Mama gwumpy because she doesn’t have a wiener?”
Yes. That’s it, Peanut. Forget the fact that Susan on aisle 4 has been giving me the stink eye for the last five minutes, while I simultaneously try to stop this conversation and buy all seven jars of Nutella to drown my embarrassment…I’m just ‘gwumpy’ because I’m lacking a wiener.
Even now – Miles will remember this oddity about his mother, and the entire conversation will repeat itself, whenever and wherever the thought occurs. I have become Bill Murray in Groundhog Day – only instead of an entire recurring day, I get a surprise recurring conversation on why I don’t get the divine privilege of having male anatomy.
No answer was ever good enough, and because I am, on occasion, a responsible adult, answers like, “It’s like puzzle pieces, or Jenga,” as to why boys and girls are made differently, didn’t seem appropriate. So I landed on this response instead…
“Girls are just made differently than boys.”
“Because they have to be able to carry the babies and give birth to them.”
“So that kids can exist for the sole purpose of humiliating their parents in public places. The end.”
Don’t worry, that answer won’t stick either. But here’s the dealio – kid’s are kids. The more relaxed and open you can be as a parent, and learn to laugh at these types of questions and situations, the easier it’s going to be. Because it is what it is.
At the end of it though, I’m pretty proud that we are raising curious kids who aren’t embarrassed to ask questions or explore topics that a lot of grown ups would say, “Oh heavens no! We don’t talk about that!” because it’s uncomfortable for them.
Heck yeah – these topics are uncomfortable! Lest you have forgotten already, I was mortified in the Walmart by a toddler and a five year old, and Jack did the same things when he was their age. I’ve just learned along that when the littler humans are the same age Jack is now, they’re going to be more willing to talk to me openly because I didn’t react poorly to their natural curiosity when they were little.
Does knowing all of that stop you from being completely embarrassed in the moment? Nope. Not even in the slightest. So you should just probably buy stock in Nutella now, because with three boys, there is no hope for me ever getting past weird, awkward conversations…ever.
Happy Wednesday Lovelies!