Preparing for “the talk” as a dad
Published 9:49 pm Thursday, June 15, 2017
Father’s Day is upon us, and it never comes around without reminding me about the time I had the “talk” with my son. It’s something every father has to break down and do, and something he’ll never forget. Our sons may, but we won’t.
I knew things had changed quite a bit from the day my big brother Wayne told me the tale one hot summer afternoon while we were mopping the kitchen floor, a few days before I entered West Side Junior High School. With all the changes, I knew I’d better not let Malachi go to the fourth grade without giving him a head start on what he might hear during bathroom break.
One evening after supper I told Mal we needed to go for a walk. I still wasn’t sure how to go about this. I was a bit rusty, considering that this was going to be my first such discussion since that kitchen-mopping day a quarter of a century earlier.
I thought a good way to enter the conversation was by singing a little tune as we walked along. So I started singing, “Let me tell you ‘bout the birds and the bees and the flow’rs and the trees and the moon up above, and the thang called looooooove.”
Mal gave me a strange look.
“Dad, please don’t sing out here,” he said, “We’ve got neighbors!”
“Okay,” I said, “I was just in a good mood. Oh,” I said, as if a thought had just come to me. “I need to tell you somethin’.”
I froze. I couldn’t exactly put all of this into words.
“Well,” I said, cringing, “I just wanted to tell you about … well, you know … did you ever study in school, maybe in science, about how the little bees will fly around in the garden and buzz over to the flowers … I’m not sure exactly what they do. But then the birds come along … I’m not exactly sure what the birds do either, but …”
“Dad,” he quipped, “Are you trying to tell me about babies?”
I learned that day that having real teeth is a true advantage, because they can’t fall out on the sidewalk in times such as these. I tried to seem unflustered, though, and – as beads of sweat huddled on my forehead – managed to squeak out,
“I, uh, maybe.”
“Aw, Dad, I’ve known all about that a long time. Everybody knows about that. The boys at school always talk about it.”
He went on to explain what all he knew, which was plenty. It covered everything I knew, and a little bit more.
Still, I felt relieved that I had done my fatherly duty with a rare eloquence and grace. I felt proud of my son, too, as we walked and talked along.
As we got to the house, he said,
“Dad, is there anything else?”
“No, no,” I said, “You’re good, real good.”
Then I paused as I opened the front door for the young man, and added, “Son, thanks for those tips.”
Steve Bowen is a former Granger who lives in Red Oak, Texas.