“Off the Hook” by Nancy Julien Kopp

This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Mom.”

I glanced at the clock, tapped my foot for the nth time and hollered up the stairway, “C’mon, Kirk. We need to get going.”

My 11-year-old son had been to the dentist for an early-morning appointment, and I needed to get him to school. I, ready to holler once again, grabbed my coat that had been lying across a kitchen chair. Before I could manage it, Kirk came bounding down the stairs, grabbed his winter coat and sailed by me, out to the car in the garage. I followed right on his heels.

thermometerBacking down the driveway, I was in full mom mode. “Where’s your hat? It’s freezing outside, and you have no hat to wear out on the playground. How bright is that?”

Silence.

Turning the corner at a reckless speed because of my angst, I added the final barb. “I don’t want you home with pneumonia again.” Visions of one very sick boy must have entered both our heads, but neither of us commented.

More silence.

Finally, Kirk blurted a response. “Mom, hats mess up my hair!”

Exasperated, I retorted quicker than a jackrabbit runs across the Arizona desert. “Big deal! Lots of days my hair doesn’t behave the way I want it to. But you know what? Life goes on.”

His response came even faster. “Yeah, but you’ve already got a husband.”

We’d reached the school. I slowed to a stop, and Kirk jumped out, slamming the door in a final response.

I drove home in a minor stupor. What just happened? I wondered. My little boy had taken a leap onto the bottom rung of the ladder to manhood. He’d rather freeze his ears on the playground than risk his hair being messed up. He wanted to look his best for the girls in his class.

bird and beeWow! My child is growing up. Am I ready for this new stage?

When school was over and Kirk came home, neither of us mentioned our less-than-friendly conversation earlier in the day. But I looked at him with a new perspective. Girls on his mind? What does he know about girls and boys or the birds and the bees? Who should talk to him? Is this the right time?

I discussed the predicament with my husband, Ken, later that night, but he didn’t offer to do the deed. Ken was a good dad who provided well for his family, but he much preferred that the responsibility of disciplining and caring for the children fall to me. Easy for him, not so for me.

Life went on for several weeks of cold winter days with a boy who would wear no hat. I didn’t nag him, but I thought a lot about how I was going to have the talk with him. I remembered when I’d found out about sex—in sixth grade on the playground. Beverly, a student whose dad was a doctor, gathered all the girls around her and said she had something to tell us. She proceeded to inform her captive audience of all the physical aspects of how babies came to be.

Of course, more than half of us told her she was crazy. Our parents would never do such a thing. Never! Beverly put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes. “I read it in one of my father’s medical books. It’s all true.” She turned on her heel and ran all the way to the school, while the rest of us stood there totally tongue-tied. I doubt much schoolwork was done that afternoon, with those mental images racing through the minds of all the sixth-grade girls.

chickenNow, it would be my turn to inform someone—my own little boy—about the mechanics of creation. I let even more days go by. I was one big chicken. Finally, I knew I had to be a mom and have the talk. I went upstairs to say goodnight to Kirk and his little sister Karen. I stopped by the pink room first, tucked Karen in and kissed her forehead.

Then it was on to the blue room, where my son had just slipped into bed. I sat on the edge of his bed and said, “Kirk, maybe we should have a talk about babies and girls and boys and all that stuff.” Oh great, I thought. What a namby-pamby way to begin. What should I say next?

Kirk pulled the comforter up around his shoulders and said, “Oh, you don’t have to do that, Mom. Artie and Matt already told me all about it.” He turned on his side and said no more.

Artie and Matt were two boys on our block who were about four years older than Kirk. They were the oldest boys in the neighborhood, and the younger kids looked up to them. I wanted to ask Kirk if he’d told them his mother and father would never, ever do THAT like my girlfriends and I had told Beverly. Instead, I leaned over and kissed his cheek and pushed the hair off his forehead before I headed downstairs.

I got as far as the doorway before I turned around and said, “Kirk, if you have any questions, you know you can come to me or Dad and ask. You do know that, don’t you?”

A muffled “Yes” was all I got for an answer.

A little giggle started way down in my stomach and made its way upward until it became a full-blown laugh by the time I hit the bottom step. When I got to the family room, I was still laughing.

Ken looked away from the TV. “What’s so funny?” he asked.

I got control of myself then answered, “It seems we owe Artie and Matt a thank you. They instructed Kirk and some other boys about how babies are made. Got us both off the hook.”

Did I dare write the incident in his baby book? After all, I put in a little report on the first tooth, first haircut, first words. Somehow, I doubted there would be a page heading that said, “First Sex Instruction.”

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Nancy Julien Kopp writes creative nonfiction, memoir, inspirational, poetry, award-winning children’s fiction and articles on the writing craft. She’s published in 17 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, three NYMB books and other anthologies, newspapers, ezines and Internet radio. Nancy blogs about the writing world with tips for writers at www.writergrannysworld.blogspot.com.

Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Mom.” The book is filled with 64 hilarious stories by moms raising their families. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/12jKK6x) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1vzYbfI).

To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.

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