It was Mother's Day at the boys' school on Wednesday this week. In addition, it was their first Cotillion class of the season that same evening. I was simultaneously looking forward to and dreading the day because it was logistically full and I'm single parenting this week with a head cold.
We ultimately managed the day okay. A neighbor watched Toddler Child while I went to the school in the morning. I got home around noon, picked up Toddler Child, packed dinners for everyone, got the boys' Cotillion clothes ready, popped some Vicodin Advil and hit the road for our long night. We went to bed tired and I was proud no child had my fingernail marks in their arm. The older boys were helpful. Toddler Child was what one would expect.
My friend Corbie blogged about her Mother's Day experience at the school. The punchline of her post was that her second grader made a comment about his "nuts" in front of his science class and all the well-dressed, visiting mothers. It's a cute story.
Through some email exchanges I told Corbie I doubted Oldest Boy and Middle Boy even knew what "nuts" were. I was like Tina Fey's version of Palin regarding the Bush Doctrine. Smiling and shaking my head I said, "They don't know what that is."
On the way home from school yesterday I decided to ask them. "Boys, do you know what it means when someone's referring to their nuts?" They surprised and actually pleased me when they said they did. [Our boys are a bit sheltered which is good sometimes, but we struggle finding balance so they're not completely counterculture.] Oldest Boy said he never says "nuts" though. He said it was cool in the 2nd and 3rd grade to say "nuts" a lot, but it's not cool in the 5th grade. It's no big deal.
Middle Boy said he only says it when he needs to and he thought it was more appropriate than "weiner" and "penis". I asked him how he used it. He said, "If I get hurt there, I say, 'Aw. My nuts.'"
This was all very matter-of-fact. There was no embarrassment or giggling. They answered my questions, gave me examples, and just like that, the conversation was over.
I chatted with my Dad last night. I told him how our week was going and about my long day on Wednesday. Dad knows the rules of courtesy and basic etiquette, and would agree that it's important to teach kids these things, but he's not an advocate of Cotillion. He never directly criticizes our decision to send the boys, but it's evident to me that he thinks it's overkill.
I told him about the "nuts" conversation and he laughed. I thought he'd be happy because he's a "boys should be boys" kinda guy. Then somehow I looped back around to a Cotillion story.
Dad says, "Now why are you having those boys go to Cotillion?" I told him it was for lessons in common courtesy and age-appropriate etiquette.
Dad said, "Oh. So they won't say 'nuts'."