I wrapped it up with some of other books and put it under the tree. It was unwrapped along with their other gifts, but just as I imagined would happen, it went mostly unnoticed during end-of-the-year mania and back-to-school preparation. But yesterday, during a quiet moment, I saw Vida pick it up and begin reading. I headed back to Nesting Ground Central, still within earshot of the complete silence. Ten minutes in, Risa entered the same room and said, "What're you doing?" And Vida said, "This book is...kind of...odd." More silence, in which I could tell they were reading together. I gave them another ten minutes and nonchalantly walked into the room.
"Mom!" said Vida. She looked up from the book, concern all over her face. "What the HECK?!"
And I said, "Look, you guys are eleven years old now, and I got you this book because I thought it might help with any questions or concerns you might have AND because I felt you were mature enough to deal with it in a...mature way because you're so...mature. If you have any questions, just let me know."
"I didn't know the man sticks..." Vida began.
Risa immediately put her hands over her ears (this, too, I knew would happen) and said, "Can't. Can't do it. Can't do it."
"Okay, okay, Risa, GEEEZ," Vida said. "Mom, can I speak to you in your room?"
So, yesterday, I spent much of the late afternoon fielding questions such as these from Vida:
What is the difference between sex and making love?
How do gay couples have children?
Is there any way BESIDES sex to make a baby?
I guess you really have to be in love with someone, then, to make a baby with them?
What's masturbation? I don't get it.
THAT'S masturbation? Oh. You can't hurt yourself, can you?
Etc. etc. I'm sure I will be barraged with still more questions, but I'm feeling pretty good about all this. And I highly recommend the book (it's for ages 7 and up, and there is another for ages 4 and up, plus another for when puberty arrives). The whole thing was neither as difficult, nor as easy, as I thought it would be. At the very least, I feel even more prepared to discuss the subject(s) with Risa whenever she decides to uncover her ears.
It doesn't seem right (or maybe it does?) to blithely blog without mentioning the political assassinations—both attempted and successful—that took place in Arizona, that current hotbed of unrest, this past weekend. Over-the-top, unimaginative (hi, can you think of any metaphors that don't revolve around violence?), hateful rhetoric may not have had anything to do with the shootings. And yet the shootings have directed the spotlight towards the senseless jabbering. The right blames the left for directing said spotlight, but I don't think the left had to do very much: it's simple to make the connection.
Is there crazy talk on both sides? Of course there is. But the left does not have leaders who use inflammatory language in the style of the former Governor of Alaska, Rush Limbaugh (some will say he doesn't lead the movement, but I would argue that oh yes he does), and their ilk. This columnist at Politics Daily correctly points out that only the right has "institutionalized their side's craziness."
I was reading The Phantom Tollbooth last night with Lea, and I think that the Count of Connotation (loyal servant to the King of Dictionopolis) should have the last say: "'You see,' cautioned the count, "you must pick your words very carefully and be sure to say just what you intend to say.'"