Precious Puppies

My mom was just a little too…zealous about making sure she gave me the Talk. I mean, THE Talk: birds and bees, where babies come from, special hug, whatever you refer to it by. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that she had me in high school and was terrified that I’d do the same.

Whatever the reason, four is still a bit too young.

I don’t exactly remember what she told me or how she decided to approach the subject, but I do remember the somewhat traumatized state I walked around in afterwords. The four year old me, though, was determined to do my mom proud by proving I had listened to her heartfelt intentions to protect me. I remember sitting in a tub with my aunt Lindsay (who is exactly 11 months younger than me and a constant source for competition). She had a collection of soft plastic dog figurines called Precious Puppies that you could buy with candy bones at a nearby gas station. Lindsay has always had a fetish for dogs, even more so back then, and always had at least one of her Precious Puppies on hand.

At this time, she was playing with them on the side of the tub and storing them on the tub floor in the space created by her crossed legs. I remember staring at her with my mind abuzz with my mother’s lecture—more the feeling she had impressed on me rather than the exact words. Lindsay’s keeping of her puppies so close to the part my mom had explained to me was to be touched by no one else at all costs horrified me. Why hadn’t I noticed before?

“Lindsay, don’t put your puppies there.” I said to her.

“Why?”

“It’s close to your no-no.”

I remember Lindsay giving me a dead panned look. “That is not called your ‘no-no’.”

“Just don’t put them there, okay?”

Still giving me the same annoyed, skeptical look, she lifted one puppy high in the air and dropped it towards where the rest of her puppies sat.

I think I sort of panicked then.

“MOM! Lindsay’s putting precious puppies in her no-no!”

Nevermind the fact that I said a slight inaccuracy with that statement, my mother came bowling into the bathroom with such an ominous air, even I was a bit alarmed. She told Lindsay off good. I felt a little guilty afterwords as Lindsay initiated a very angry silent treatment for siccing my mom on her for nothing.

Not too long later, probably around five or six years old, mom obviously had thought she hadn’t finished her warnings, so she went more into depth. This was all fine and dandy until my grandparents tried to bed me in the same room as one of my boy cousins of the same age. No one could understand why I became completely hysterical over this. They asked me what he had done wrong, if he had been bullying me, and as I grew more and more distressed so did their theories. My poor cousin had hid himself away out of fear of what I was about to induce the adults to do. When my mom came in to finally help, not even she could figure out why I was so distressed, and this upset me more.

“But mom,” I said, “if I sleep with him I’ll get pregnant.”

I imagined that the other adults in the room had turned to look at my mother, who I recall being crossed between laughing hysterically and being morosely embarrassed. She did tell me she was proud that I had listened to her later, though, and I don’t think she gave me another talk until I was hitting my teens. By then I knew enough to plug my ears and sing at the top of my lungs like a viking calling to the gods of battle. I knew plenty enough about tab A fitting into slot B to extract object C, thank you very much.

But her concern (more like paranoia), didn’t stop there.

My boyfriend of 17 (and my future husband), came to pick me up to spend a day or so with his family for Christmas, and the moment he walked through the door my mom dragged me away to her bedroom a few feet away. She didn’t bother to close the door as she started:

“Now, I just want you to know that I love you, and I know you’re a good girl and I don’t expect you to do it, but if you really feel like you must have sex, please, at least come to me for some birth control. I mean, condoms are really easy to use and I can tell you all about them–”

My mind checked out after that and I didn’t catch anything else she said. Maybe all the blood speeding up to my face overwhelmed my brain. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my boyfriend stiffen on the couch with that same expression my mom had so many years ago at my grandparents house.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I did appreciate my mom’s concern and knew she was being a responsible parent to educate me (that, or just having a go at amusing herself with my discomfort), but I was very dedicated to the idea of saving myself till marriage, and reassured her that, no, I didn’t want to sneak away to have sex. My boyfriend, wisely, said nothing, though we both knew he didn’t plan on anything happening anyways. There are reasons I later married the man, and standards are one of them.

Speaking of my marriage later…it was the most opportune time for my mother’s best and final talk.

Whole family was there, the kitchen was full, and my mom turned on my now fiance and I, a familiar wry smile on her face.

“Do you know how to have sex?”

I knew it was coming. I hadn’t lived with my mother for my entire life to not expect it. Thus, I had my ears plugged and my psalms raised to those viking gods.

And my mother hadn’t known me my entire life to not expect me to do this either. She waited till I was done yowling viking hymns before turning to my fiance and asking him if he knew how. Of course he spluttered at that. What do you say to that question? What do you say to your freaking future mother-in-law when she asked that question?

Oh, mom.

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