Last week, one of the proverbial moments of parenting met me at my bedroom door. A little dark-haired girl asked, “Why do we have belly buttons?”
Alas, I didn’t have the time to sit down and explain the dynamics of feeding in utero, so I said, with eye contact, “That’s how babies get fed when they are in the momma’s tummy.” The dear girl tipped her head to one side, had the light of understanding wash over her features, and said “oh!” with confidence. I considered the subject well-clarified and went on my way. I was so confident, or maybe just so rushed, that the topic buried itself deeply in the land of over and done.
Wonders of misunderstanding, the truth came out. When I wasn’t home, of course. It’s not just Lucy that had ‘splainin’ to do.
While out of the house on errands and talking with Chris on the phone, he said this: “You know what child #4 asked me today? If men don’t have babies, why do they have belly buttons?” To quote child #1, this could be documented as an Epic Fail of the mothering sort.
Mildly shamed, I told Chris the front story and revealed my laxity. With appreciation I boast that Big Daddy De Man is much better at clarity in the moment. And not only that, it was kind of a five for one since everyone was in the van and took part in the lesson. For some, it was a whole new room to hang out in, that idea of “finished purpose parts.” For others, it was just a brush up on the facts. That’s the fun of hangin’ with the whole fam: multi-teaching.
Thus, I have learned another lesson of mothering. Eye contact or not, understanding is not always as simple as it seems. Not wishing to leave my children confused with minor points of human biology, I am committed to the study of all things quizzical. I embrace it as important. Now, why DO we have an appendix? Or different sized toes? Or eyebrows? Nose hair?