Years ago, after my wife told me it was time to have the Birds and the Bees talk with our oldest son, I butchered the whole thing pretty badly. I over explained everything. There was a near fainting, and you could say that about either of us. Afterward, I couldn’t help but think about the time my dad had the same conversation with me.
I don’t remember exactly where we were; I just remember it was the two of us and he was acting like somebody had died and then he thrust a book at me. The title was something like “Little Timmy Learns How Mom and Dad had a Tickle Fight Under the Covers and Used Love and a Little Sweat Equity to Make a Baby.” I saw where this was going and how pained Dad was, and I tried to ease his discomfort. I said, “Are you telling me my sweet, dear mother was involved in something like this?”
My dad can be a tad proper. So with the book he said, “All right, son, it’s all in there. You know, read it. I don’t think you’ll have any questions. But if you do have questions, read it again, because I’m pretty sure the answers are somewhere in that book.”
Obviously when he went to the bookstore Dad was too embarrassed to browse through the sex books. I’m thinking he found this one in the comedy section. It was six pages long and based on the detailed drawings, it must have been written by a NASA engineer with some kind of doodle disorder. There were stick figures for visual aids and what should have been pretty simple personal hardware was flying in all different directions and in and out of things. It looked like rockets were blasting off everywhere.
After perusing this book, I immediately knew something was terribly wrong with me, since the male stick figure had an appendage long enough to wrap around the planet. And I really couldn’t get my mind past that. It all blurred before my eyes now that I knew, stick figure or not, that I would never be capable of having one of those tickle fights should I so choose to do so.
Some people say we all want to be like our parents. I know I do. But I also think, in many instances, we want to be for our children what our parents were not. It is a generational, parenting shift that all of us can see if we bother to look.
According to the stories they told me, my grandparents fed my parents bugs because there was no money for food. They did the whole “walking both ways uphill to school in the snow” thing. And they also made their clothes out of animal hides. I’m pretty sure that means Dad never had to learn about sex from some dumb book and instead figured it out from watching all of those naked farm animals that were apparently wandering around his dirty, bare feet.
Then my father showered his own children, us, with things he did not have growing up, and maybe he didn’t make us work as hard as he should have.
Please don’t think I am knocking my father. There is no one I respect more. He is an attorney, and did a little hard time in politics. If you are ever accused of a major crime, and you actually committed that crime, then I could not think of a better person to get you off. Don’t burden him with the facts. He’ll win in spite of your stupidity or your temporary moment of bloody passion. That’s because he can form a bond with a jury, or a political crowd, as well as anyone. I think it’s because he can figure out their own stories before he gives them his.
A lot of people talk about how quiet my dad can be. I don’t think he is necessarily a quiet person; I just don’t think he says much unless he’s got something to say.
So, at this stage in life, politics is long gone. Dad still practices law and has entered what I call his vegetable growing years. Maybe, for him, the ending will be a little bit like the beginning. Growing what you eat. Animals scurrying about underfoot.
Now my oldest son is probably closer in age to the time he could talk to his own offspring about how life comes to be. It’s just a thought, but maybe Dad could have taken me out to the old farm and let me watch the animals go at it, instead of giving me that dumb book.