Birds And The Bees These Days


Shortly after discovering I was to be a mom of two boys, my first thought was, at least I won’t have to give them the menstruation talk. While there a number of other pitfalls I’m not looking forward to: teenage boys, idiot girlfriends, man-buffoonery – it still seemed better than female rivalry, wardrobe battles and the subtle confidence undermining games that my mother went through with me.


My mom never really taught me about “the birds and the bees.” Heck, she won’t even tell me how to pick fresh fish. I learned about the facts of life at nine, when my best friend, Jen, put a naked Ken on top of a naked Barbie and said, “this is what parents do.”


But even without Jen’s figurine demonstration, growing up in the 70’s – sex was pretty much everywhere. It wasn’t about birds or bees at all. It was about cigarettes and tampons and 42nd Street. Instead of “The Talk,” my mom took me to see Midnight Cowboy because to her, it was a coming of age story.


“This is what happens when a potato tries to make it in the city. Don’t be a potato.” She’d say.


By “potato” she meant “bumpkin.” A country bumpkin, which oddly enough, my father would label her as being. After all, she grew up surrounded by fields and he was from downtown Tokyo where they’d roll a house on logs to move away from the burning one next door.


My mother’s own childhood complaints were about having nothing but sweet potatoes and barley to eat and his retort was, “at least you had something to eat.”


When it came to war, starvation and American soldiers – my parents would tell me everything. Boys and love and where babies come from, on the other hand, they’d make a run for it and leave me to speculate from the Motown and Engelbert Humperdink records they’d play.


Considering my boys are subjected to my husband’s taste in music: Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Manson and Metallica – I can’t really send them down that road. They became curious why Beyonce was prancing around in high heels and a leotard, singing about a ring and I groaned, Birds and the Bees these days. I prayed to be spared the “talk” for at least another five years.


But this is the world of flash advertisement. When they saw a banner on my computer that said, “Support Same Sex Marriage,” they asked what it meant.


So I explained, “It’s when a man marries a man or a woman marries a woman.”


And Samu said, “So, I can marry Ping and he could be my brother!”


Yes, it’s mixed up but the funny thing is, there are times I feel like my husband is more like my baby and my sons are like my partners when it comes to mature conversation. Besides, my husband’s family is so big and intertwined, they’re still trying to figure out everybody’s relationship to everybody – so I just simplified it with, “Same sex marriage is when gay people get married.”


Samu furrowed his brows. “But isn’t gay like…a pink shirt.”


Thanks, Daddy.


Deep breath. Then I asked them, “You know how you feel nervous and shy around Kate or Ninelle?” They both nodded – which I took as a sign that they’re currently heterosexual. Then I continued, “Well, for some boys, they have that feeling about another boy.”


They both quietly thought about those feelings for a minute. Maybe they understood – maybe they were thinking about Legos. Who knows. They’re boys. When I thought I was in the clear, Samu asked me a tough one.


“Why did it say “support gay marriage”?”


“Because some people are against it. They think marriage should only be between a man and a woman.”


In unison, they asked “Why?”


They may as well have said, “Checkmate.”


Either I go on a rampage about religious hypocrisy or I create a ripple in the waters of sex education. Seeing that the only figurines available for demonstration were Mario, Ninja turtles and Sponge Bob, I just made a run for it. Hey, it worked for my parents.


Today, it's birds. Tomorrow - chicks.
Today, it’s birds. Tomorrow – chicks.

Standardized Will


Synchronicity, coincidence or just common sense; I happen to be reading “The Hunger Games” and the new “Strong Willed Child” at the same time. The first book I reserved because our library sucks and you can’t find anything worth borrowing unless you hijack it from another library. The latter literally fell into my lap when Samu crashed into the book shelf of the parenting section. Guess he just had the urge.


It’s ambitious for me to try to finish two books, when I haven’t finished a book before the due date the past five months – but that’s how our library is – all or nothing. Both books are interesting so far, and the fact that the subject is similar makes it less work for my diminishing attention span. One analyzes the strong willed child and the other tells a story of what she’s capable of doing in a fight to the death.


I told two of my friends of the books I borrowed and they simultaneously asked, “Which one is strong willed?” They both assumed it was Samu but he’s actually the compliant one. Well…to an extent. He’ll do as you say until you walk away, and then do what he wants.


I told him he couldn’t bring a toy to the doctor’s office, he obliged and put it on the coffee table. Then he suddenly said he had to go pee, grabbed the toy and stuffed it into his pants while he was in the bathroom. With Samu, I do a pat down, like a security guard, before we leave for school – especially if he puts on his shoes and coat without a fuss.


Zuki, on the other hand, smiles sweetly, shares nicely and cares sincerely – but try teaching him anything and you’ll soon feel that you’d have better results training a blind cat how to do the Boot Scootin’ Boogie. He definitely has his own way of learning things and to this day, I haven’t got a clue how his brain works.


I’ve definitely been there. I remember the lectures. The tears. The eventual awakening.


As for my husband, I don’t even have to guess if he was the same – I just have to ask if he was worse.


In a few weeks, Zuki will be taking the State standardized tests. To personalities like ours, it’s a battle of will. Not a battle of will power but whether it will conform – and what it’ll take to eventually subdue. While it’s not a fight to the death as in “The Hunger Games,” I can’t help but feel like it’s the same bloodthirsty demand to see a performance that the performers don’t get credit for in doing a good job but get penalized for doing a bad one.


For Zuki, this is only the beginning. I don’t expect his battles for ground to be less strenuous than mine or my husbands but I have confidence he’ll find his way around.


An associate at school said to me, “For some people, the more educated they are – the dumber they are.” She was talking about the administrators who manipulate our children’s education. With all their degrees, decorations and experience, they can’t figure out one simple thing – knowledge we can use.


So now they’re currently hell bent on teaching American children the metric system and I’m thinking the only way I’ll forgive that is if it solves my home brew from exploding.