Well, the Boy Guinea Pig Gets on the Girl and Then …
Having the sex talk while your husband is deployed.
Estee resumed playing with her toys. She seemed completely uninterested. But Ethan was stunned, speechless. He asked me to repeat it, so I did.
"You and Dad had to do that TWO TIMES?" he yelled.
"That's how babies get made," I repeated, trying to shift the conversation from the specific to the general.
"Aren't you embarrassed?" he asked.
"When a man and a woman love each other, it's what they do, and there's nothing to be embarrassed about," I said. He calmed down. The conversation smoothed out. I was starting to feel like SuperSingleMom, able to leap unexpected questions in a single explanation. After all, I had tackled the topic of gay relationships the previous week, prompted by front-page photos in the Washington Post of men kissing men. (D.C. recently legalized same-sex marriage.) That went well, too.
"Mom, can I do it to you?" Ethan suddenly asked.
"No," I said, horrified.
"Can I do it to Estee?"
"But I love you."
Alison Buckholtz is the author of Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War (Tarcher/Penguin 2009), which will be released in paperback this spring with a new afterword and reader's guide.
Illustration by Nina Frenkel.