“MOMMY, WHERE DO babies come from?”
“What?” It’s 5 o’clock and dinner is somewhere in the process of being cooked (or overcooked) and now, “Where do babies come from!?”
“I don’t know.”
Puzzled look. “How come you don’t know?”
“Uh! OH!” I think.
Until now, I knew everything. How to make kites fly. How to retread Hot Wheel cars. Heal the sick.
I re-track. “I mean, it’s a mystery.”
“Like the ones on TV that I have to leave when the bad parts come?”
“Yes. No. Not actually.”
Mechanically, I check pots, stir something. What is it again that I thought we were having for dinner?
I feel questioning, waiting eyes looking up at me.
I keep stirring. Thinking, I recall we got animals to help explain the mechanics of things, but I guess we went wrong when we only got one of each kind. One dog, one cat, one duck, one hermit crab. Doesn’t do anything really to explain reproduction. Where did these pets come from? Really, how did we get all these pets?
I sit down on the floor. “You see, each person starts out as a single cell, then grows to have 60,000 to 100,000 miles of blood vessels.”
Eyes get bigger. I don’t recall these eyes. I wonder — who else in the family looks like this?
I meander on. “I mean, the mommy has an egg.”
“Like we had for breakfast?” “Yes. Like that. But much smaller. Uncooked.”
“The daddy has seed.” “What kind?” Answering his own question, he says, “The kind like in tomatoes?”
“Yes, like that.” Summarizing our talk, my son says, “So you had a chicken egg and daddy had tomato seeds and that is how I got borned.” He seemed satisfied with the answer, and I didn’t elaborate.
Ten years go by, and in the middle of the night, I am driving back from Lake Charles. My hands firmly on the steering wheel, I fill in the blanks about the sequence of human reproduction. I tell myself, “It’s good that it’s late and dark so HE won’t be embarrassed.”