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When a child asks cringe-worthy questions

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Damned if you answer. Damned if you don’t. When our daughter, Pudd’ng hears an unfamiliar word – divine or dirty – she will ask its meaning. That’s a given. Turning a deaf ear only emboldens her. Plus, she has a long memory. Which means? An unanswered question will come back to bite my behind. This night, an expert on a fashion show on TV used a word that got Pudd’ng curious:

“Dah-dee? What is a camel toe?”

I did not know what Pudd’ng knew. There are times baby girl asks trick questions. Which is why, to be on the safe side, I dished a white lie: “I’ll find out what it means.”

“I know what it means,” she chirruped, “it’s …” I cringed. “ … the toe of a camel.”

When the rubber meets the road

I knew that, pretty soon, I would be asked about the meaning of another word. When the ad came on TV, mostly during primetime, I would change the station, and dodge the bullet. One night, the bullet found its target …

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“Dah-dee? What’s a condom?”

Damn. Where’s Ezekiel Mutua when you need him? I think about giving a vague answer, like, “It’s something only grownups use.”

Bad idea. Because? This answer will put me in the dock for cross-examination by the little lawyer. Follow- up questions will range from, “What do grownups use it for?” To, “Will I use it when I’m in Standard Eight, because I’ll be a grownup?”

Then I think about giving her an answer straight out of my old folks parenting manual: “Let me not hear you using that word ever again.”

Bad idea. Again. Which is why I give her an open-ended answer? Something she can look forward to: “I’ll tell you when the time’s right.”

Not throwing in the towel

This evening, we are in the neighborhood shop. Tenderoni is buying last-minute supplies as she is travelling upcountry. An item piques Pudd’ng’s interest.

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“Mum?” our daughter chimes in. “What’s a sanitary towel?”

I thought mama would throw in the towel. But she handled it like the Always Boss.

“This is a matter between girls,” mama said. “We’ll talk about it, just the two of us, when the time’s right, right?”

“Right.”

Don’t “assk”, don’t tell

Fortunately, or not, this word became a part of Pudd’ng vocabulary after we bought her a dictionary. But, my Bible app would’ve also come in handy. I would’ve just asked her to type the name, “Balaam” on my Amplified Bible’s search box.

“Mum? Dad? Can I ask something?”

All our four blinkers are on the telly. “Yes?” we chorus, without looking up, but what she says next makes us to look up … to heaven for divine intervention.

“What’s an ass?”

“Go and search for the meaning in your dictionary,” we say in unison.

It’s not that hole, stupid

With our daughter’s cringe-worthy questions – and, generally, in life – I am learning that I should not react, but respond. Dads should never jump into conversations, they should jog to conclusions. Nowadays, when Pudd’ng drops a zinger, I take it real slow. I ask her to clarify what she really means. This day is no exception ...

“Dah-dee? When a mother gives birth to a baby, how does the hole heal again?”

Before I stuff my size 10 foot in my cakehole, I decide to ask for clarification.

“What do you mean by hole?”

“I mean, the hole that doctors cut in the stomach to remove the baby.”

Phew. I pinch myself: “Joe Soap, what were you thinking, you Balaam’s ass ?” Oh, dear.

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