As toys go, Transformers are amazing. Even if you’re not aware of the story lines associated with the characters, the concept of an ordinary car or truck magically becoming a powerful robot with impressive powers is fascinating. With a little unfolding and an extension of this or that, an ordinary thing suddenly becomes something extraordinary!
They’re especially interesting to boys, probably because boys are born with one attached to them.
In a house filled with boys there’s no escaping this topic. In fact, regardless of the number of boys in the family, most wives will probably attest to the fact that their husbands remain pretty impressed with their transforming powers right into adulthood. For their part, most men are mystified as to why their women aren’t equally impressed.
At some point, each of our boys became acutely aware of his own magnificent appendage. We tried to take this in stride. As with so many other areas of life, the best approach is usually to relax and not over-react.
We pointed out that while their anatomy afforded them the ability to do things like write their names on the sidewalk or in the snow, it was probably best if they kept those powers to themselves. At least until they were up in the woods away from the eyes of unappreciative neighbors.
When we were all kicked-back watching a movie and happened to notice that someone’s hands were venturing down their pajama pants, we didn’t freak out. We just told them that if they were going to do that they needed to go up to their room. At least once one of them actually did, which was a little awkward.
Eventually each of our boys reached a point where we knew it was time to give them “the talk”. Though they were no doubt well-acquainted with the more obvious capabilities of their transformers by then, we thought it was best if they learned about their most amazing powers from us. Since they were boys, that job fell to me.
I can’t remember what exactly inspired the talk with Gerrit, but I do remember us taking a long ride in the car together so we could be by ourselves. As I explained the mechanics of how he and his brothers had come to be, he got very quiet. When I was done, he turned to me and asked,
“You did that to mom?”
The secret to these moments is to just answer the question. There’s no need to give a lot of extra information that they’re not ready for. I did feel like it was important that he understand the connection between the action and the result though, so I did some quick math, confirmed that we had three sons, and replied,
“Yes. At least three times.”
We may have misjudged Tucker’s readiness for the talk. When we retreated to his room for the great illumination, he didn’t seem to want to hear it. I sensed his discomfort but pressed on, feeling it was important that we not leave it unfinished. At last, we were finally done. He didn’t have any questions, so I checked the block and we both moved on.
Months later we were gathered around the dinner table when a discussion about Madonna having a child somehow entered our conversation. As we sifted through the issues it suddenly dawned upon Tucker that Madonna wasn’t married.
“Wait a minute. How can she have a baby if she doesn’t have a husband?”
“Well, Tuck. It’s not God’s plan, but it is possible for men and women to have babies without being married. Remember our little talk?
He didn’t remember it. Any of it. To this day he still claims we never had that first conversation. He had completely blocked it from his mind. With a chuckle, I pointed my finger towards his room and said “Let’s go.” Thankfully, the second round seems to have stuck.
Being a third brother, the chances that I would be the first one to unveil all the glorious details for Philip were admittedly remote. Brothers have a way of keeping each other informed on matters of such import. I did want to make sure that nothing had been lost in the translation though, so when the time came I had the talk with Philip too. The fact that he was pretty comfortable with the conversation told me that his brothers had done a pretty good job keeping him up to date.
“Don’t worry, dad. I’ve got this.”
I had many other talks about these and other weighty matters with my boys through the years. There’s so much to learn about the world when you’re a kid. Sometimes you find that something you thought you understood is more wonderful than you could have possibly imagined. Other times you end up wishing you had never heard what you just learned.
Either way, you end up seeing the world a whole lot differently.
In fact, I’m guessing you will never look at a Transformer the same way again. :-)
originally published 1/16/12| next post School