April 1, 2011
My Job Description -- The Director's Cut
Nobody tells you that for the first few months of your child's life you'll smell like vomit all the time, even when you're freshly showered. Nobody tells you that one day you'll be diapering your child and not have the answer to the question, "Is his penis supposed to look like that?" Nobody tells you that everything you have planned for your child and your family will probably not come to pass because before you are a parent you are an idealistic boob who doesn't know anything about being a parent.
Don't get me wrong. None of this should make you feel bad (although it will) because it's just one of those phase transitions from "boob" to "experienced" to "veteran" (when you're a grandparent, I guess).
Last night while I was doing the dishes I ran across another one of those things that falls under the job description of the parent that nobody tells you you're supposed to know. From the living room, barely over the roar of running water, I hear Tristan bellowing to me about how snakes lay eggs. I leaned back enough to see through the doorway that he was sitting on the couch with an open book on his lap. His "blanky" was wrapped around him and he looked like he was reading (except he can't read yet).
I told him he was right about that and then he yelled back, "Where do the eggs come out?"
"Um... They... Well, uh... somewhere at the back end of the snake." Honestly, not being well-versed on my snake anatomy I had no idea where the eggs come out.
"Out of their bottom????"
I shut the water off so I could hear him better. "No, not out of their bottoms exactly. Some other part."
I searched my brain for answers. The answer must lie in how snakes reproduce. Oh hell, how do snakes even make babies? How can I live in the country and not know how snakes reproduce? Do they have male and female parts? Do snakes have sex? I stood at the dishdrainer completely perplexed and feeling like I'd hit a bump in the road and, like an old jalopy, part of my brain had fallen out and got left behind by the side of the road.
He continued shouting from the next room, "But I want to say the eggs come out of their bottom!"
"Okay, but I'm telling you that's not right."
"Yes, I am right!"
The good news is that no matter what gets added to your job description as a parent (and amateur herpetologist is part of it) you can easily be rescued by the Internet and work it in to make it look like you're enriching your child's educational experience. It's a great excuse to sit down with your child and look up vital and interesting science things.
Just be aware when you do a Google search the nice and normal scientific search terms you use can lead to some interesting semi-pornographic images coming up on your computer screen while you sit there with your four year old. And, of course, that can then lead to a lot of other questions that you probably don't have the answer to.