Sex and Death*

*Not necessarily in that order.

As we were checking out of the pediatrician’s office the other day (Kate is free from ear infections which is only a bummer because now I don’t know why she is still throwing epic tantrums and crawling into bed with us at 4:45 a.m.) when Flora said, “Aw, look at the baby.”

On the bulletin board was a poster. On the poster was a picture of a sorrowful-looking couple holding a picture of an infant between them. The poster was encouraging parents to vaccinate their children. In short, the baby had died of pertussis (whooping cough) because she hadn’t been inoculated.

I glanced at the picture, quickly scanned the poster, and turned back to Flora. “Yep. It’s a picture of a baby.”

“What’s that picture for?” she asked.

“Well, it’s asking parents to vaccinate their children,” I answered cautiously. “You know, those shots you have to get sometimes when you come to the doctor’s office. Those keep you from getting sick.”

“Oh. Did that baby have shots?”

Oh, no, oh no. “No, that little baby didn’t have any of those shots.”

“So did she die or what?”

“Yes, Flora, that little baby died.”

Pause. “Do you remember Mr. Tim?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Did he not get those shots? Is that why he died?”

“No. Mr. Tim had cancer.”

“What’s cancer?”

“That’s a type of sickness. Sometimes doctors can’t help you if you have cancer.”


And that was the end of that.


Later that evening, Flora again: “When I was a baby, and came out of your mouth —”

“Woah, what?”

“When I rose up and came out of your mouth. When I was borned.”

“Oh, honey, babies don’t come out of mommies’ mouths.”

“Well how do they get out of mommies’ bellies?”

Long pause.

“How did I come out?”

“You came out of my lady business.”

“What?? Babies come out of lady business?” And she laughed and laughed.

I thought, I’m glad you think it’s funny now.


Would you have handled any of this differently? How?

Snippet: A Little Confusion

Flora got a thank you card from each of her teachers for the bubble magnets we gave them.

We opened the cards together, and read them.

Flora: “How come they have ‘missus’ in their names?”
Me: “They are married.”
Flora, clearly flabbergasted: “What? Two girls and no boy?”
Me: “Not to each other!”

(Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But 5 does seem a little young to explain civil/marriage rights.)

Snippet: Language II

Flora has recently learned (I suspect through daycare channels) that “willy” is another word for boy business (as we call it around here).

During Sunday’s Steelers game, Dan exclaimed, “Go, Fast Willie!”

Flora was flabbergasted. She turned to me and hissed, “Daddy just said a potty word!”

Dan was nonplussed, and I fell to the floor laughing.

We also have a DVD animated version of Whistle for Willie, a children’s book by Ezra Jack Keats.

When I told her the name of the story, Flora asked in the tones of deepest outrage, “Who would name a dog ‘willy’?”


The favorite topic of conversation in the car lately is what is okay to say and what is a bad word.

Kate insists that ‘pee-pee’ is a bad word, but as we are potty training right now, I assure her that saying ‘pee-pee’ when we are talking about going on the potty is just fine. Ditto ‘poop’ or ‘poopie’. (I do not bother to explain that calling someone a poopie-head would be considered a bad word. They don’t need suggestions.)

Flora says that ‘dang it’ is a bad word, but I say it’s just fine. She’ll then point out that ‘damn it’ is a bad word, and then she’ll say, “I’m sorry I said a bad word.” Flora will also point out that you can say ‘dam’ if you are talking about beavers (shush, peanut gallery). The same type of conversation happens with ‘gosh’ and ‘God’. Although it’s fine to say ‘God’ when you are praying. Otherwise, stick to ‘gosh’.

I’m trying to get them to say ‘golly’ actually, purely for my own amusement.

Oh, and Flora has decided to talk about penises a lot lately. I’m not really sure why. On one hand, penis is not a bad word. But in a sentence like, “What would happen if a boy had a lot of penises?” it just seems like envelope pushing.

Snippet: National Security

We were on our way to Target at The Pointe. Dr. Bro had called in an Rx for Kate, whose bum was, not to put too fine a point on it, bleeding. (Tangent: If the Rx is for ointment, you can’t give me cream? Really, Target pharmacy? I am generally pleased as punch at your service, but you get a big FAIL on this one.)

There was a police car at an intersection. Flora seriously has a thing for police cars.

Flora: Look! Police!
Me: Yup.
Flora: Is he helping out the United States?
Me: No. Well, yes, sure. He’s keeping us safe.
Flora: Is he helping the President?
Me: No, not really.
Flora: Why not?
Me: The President isn’t in Pittsburgh anymore. He went home to —
Flora: God?
Me (stifling giggles): No. Washington DC.

But there may be some conservative pundits who want to talk with you, Flora.

Progress II

Wednesday evening after dinner, the girls helped me wash the dishes.

If you don’t know this already, when a child helps you do a chore, that chore will take anywhere from two to ten times longer. Accept this now, and don’t let it stop you from letting your child(ren) help you.

It took me awhile to figure this out, and it lead to some frustration on my part. I am a slow learner. But then it clicked, and I embraced it. And here’s a few reasons why.

First of all, like many other WOTHMs, I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my children. Since days have grown shorter, my children have started going to bed earlier. I pick them up at the day school at 5 p.m. (or later), and they hit the hay around 8 p.m. That is a scant 3 hours, and that time is filled with feeding, cleaning up after, and bathing them. If they are “helping” me, it’s not a chore, it’s quality time together.

Second, it’s less time they spend in front of the television.

Third, it teaches them responsibility. (You probably already figured this out.) Meals have to be cooked, dishes have to be cleaned (and dried and put away), clothes have to be laundered.

Fourth, it’s fun! Watching Kate intently wash the same spoon for 15 minutes was hysterical. Flora spent a lot of time washing one of my travel mugs: she would put some water in it, submerge the sponge, take out the sponge, put more water in the mug, submerge the sponge again, lather, rinse, and repeat until she got to the point that submerging the sponge made the water overflow the mug. And then she would empty the mug and start over again. (She may have been learning applied physics for all I know.)

They were wholly absorbed in this “chore”, standing on kitchen chairs I had pulled over to the sink (with a towel spread underneath to catch the inevitable spilled water). In the meantime, I was getting the other dishes done, dried, and put away.

By the time we were done, Kate had probably washed three pieces of silverware (quite thoroughly); Flora had done both travel mugs and a couple pieces of tupperware; and I had taken care of all the dishes, one pot, and one pan. Also, Kate was soaked from the neck down, the chair she had been standing on was soaked, and the half of the towel under her chair was — you guessed it — soaked.

But the girls were also ridiculously pleased with themselves. I handed Flora a towel to dry the chairs (Flora, incidentally, was dry except for the very tips of her sleeves), she happily declared, “I’m going to help you every day all day.”

And that’s just fine with me.

(I would normally have just put everything in the sink until the girls were in bed, but we are still having a major issue with fruit flies. Nothing we’ve tried to date has completely solved the problem. And besides, now that I know how much fun the girls find washing the dishes, there’s no reason not to do it together!)

Snippet: Attitude, Attitude

As reported by one of Flora’s daycare ladies:

Flora was drawing a picture of people. One of the other children said, “That’s Flora’s mom with a big belly.”

Flora responded, “My mom doesn’t have a big belly!”

The DCL weighed in, “That’s right, Flora’s mom is tiny.”

Flora, to DCL, in a voice dripping with scorn, “My mother isn’t tiny. She’s thin.”

I really have to work on her tone with adults.

G20 for Under 5

Flora: “Look, mommy! Police cars everywhere.”

We live by the airport, and there are indeed police cars everywhere.

Me: “Yes. There are very important people in Pittsburgh the next two days, so they have lots of police around to protect them.

[after a pause]
Me: “Do you know who the President of the United States is?”

Flora: “No.”

“Okay. The President is in charge of the United States.”

“What’s his name?”

“His name is Barack –”


“Ba-rack –”


“Ba, Ba, Barack Obama. Can you say that?”

“Oh, I thought you said Gock.”

“No, honey. Barack Obama.”

“Ba-rock Obama.”

“Very good.”

“Look, more police cars.”

“Yes there are a lot of police cars.”

“Where is the police station?”

Pointing, “Over that way.”

“Let’s go see more police cars!”

“No, honey, look. We just saw four. And there’s five, six, seven… and eight.”

“Eight police cars! Let’s go see 100 police cars.”

“We would have to go downtown for that. And there’s no way.”

My Little Philosopher

My husband called to report this morning’s conversation on the way to day school:

Monkey: Who made the world?
DearDR: God did.
M: Who made the world with god?
DDR: No one. God made it all by god’s self.
M: We’re nice people. Did god make nice people?
DDR: Yes.
M: Did god make bad people?
DDR: [pause]
M: Daddy! Did god make bad people?
DDR: I don’t know.
M: Bad people are just pretend.
DDR: No, bad people are real.
M: Why are people bad?
DDR: Bad people are people who choose to do bad things. And good people are people who choose to do good things.

He didn’t report Monkey’s response to that. It seems the concept of free will is pretty heavy for 4-and-a-half-year-olds.

This is the type of conversation that gets parents asking, “Where do kids come up with this stuff?”

But I think I know exactly where Monkey came up with this one: The Backyardigans Super Secret Super Spy. Uniqua plays the “evil” character Lady in Pink. (Classic lines: Pablo as Agent Secret, on The Lady in Pink’s Tickle Chair: “Do you expect me to talk?” Uniqua: “No, Agent Secret. I expect you to laugh.”) I surmise this because here’s the conversation I had with Monkey last night as we were noshing on some cherries:

M: (singing) I’m the Lady in Pink! Me, me, me, me, me!
RPM: You’re the lady in orange, actually.
M: (singing) I’m the Lady in Orange! Me, me, me, me, me!… I’m going to be evil.
RPM: Oh no you’re not.
M: It’s okay to be evil.
RPM: (rather shocked) It’s not okay to be evil!
M: Oh.

And where would she get the idea it’s okay to be evil? Aside from the Backyardigans, of course.

When we played superheroes, when I was a kid, I always wanted to be Catwoman. Maybe it’s genetic.