Tough Questions

Tonight, when putting on her pajamas, Claire pointed at her nipples, one finger on each, and said, “What are these for?” Surprised, I started saying nervously, “Uh, I don’t know… Er, uh….” Then I decided it was harmless and might actually be interesting for Claire to know that they are used to feed babies. So I told her. Claire’s mouth nearly hit the floor. She was absolutely astonished. I might as well have told her that they are secret beaconing transmitters for aliens.

She was stunned for a few seconds, then said, “Did you say they are used to feed babies?” I confirmed that she had heard me correctly. She followed, “Can I feed a baby?” I assumed she was thinking of Molly. “No, sorry. Kids’ ones don’t work. Only grown up mommies.” She was a little disappointed, but more confused. “Why do kids have them, then?” I tersely explained that they are just there for later, when she is grown up. I thought this would have confused her more, but she kind of smiled like it all made sense now. She then went on to conclude that she is probably the only kid in her class with nipples. I argued this contention, but she was so proud that I did not really push the issue. Then we moved on to brushing her teeth before she could ask the next question, which I presumed was going to be, “Why do daddies have nipples?”, to which I would have no viable answer.

A few minutes later, Claire’s last question before going to sleep was, “Are earthquakes real?” Oh boy. We had been reading a book — a really nice kid’s book — that had a bed fall through the floor at night when an earthquake struck. Still, I had to spit it out. “Yes, sometimes there are real earthquakes.” It’s almost as if I had just told her that dragons are real or Darth Vader could come walking through the door. She started to panic a bit. I followed up quickly, “But not around here. We almost never have earthquakes in Texas. Maybe just teeny tiny ones you barely notice. They don’t make beds fall through the floor.” She felt better but made me promise — promise — that we would never move to an earthquake city. Never ever. I told her we would never move to an earthquake city.

And then I slinked out of her bedroom before she could find something else to ask me about.

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