Questions Fathers Hate To Answer

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsbur...

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers prior to a game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I confronted the future, past and present but I don’t know how well I did. Not sure that it matters, but for some reason I keep thinking about it. More on this in a moment.

One of the boys and I had a conversation earlier this week about whether I could tackle Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben is the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers and his name suits him.

He is about 6’5 and they say he weighs about 241 or so. Well, he has a chunk of height on me and though I weigh more than 200 I bet he is an honest 241. We’ll ignore the fact that he is a professional athlete who has been playing a sport in which men who are bigger and stronger than I am have trouble catching him.

It is not because he is fast, it is because he is elusive. But I still maintain I can take him down. My buddy isn’t so certain. He says that he is certain most places I go I am among the strongest men there, but Big Ben isn’t your average guy.

I’ll concede it might be difficult and that I may need a good massage afterwards, but I can 241 isn’t beyond my ability. I can still throw around a lot of weight and even if he drags me a dozen yard I will take him down. It would probably be easier than the conversations I had today.

Dads and Daughters

My daughter is a precocious 8 year-old girl who is fearless, smart and determined. She is a force of nature and I love her for all of these things and more.

She is also like me and prone to asking/saying things that are designed to get a reaction. Today she hit me with a bunch that caught me off guard. I admit to not having thought much about them because they were things women know in a way that men simply can’t.

“Dad, do you know what a period is? Can I get it at 8 and what will happen if you are around and not mom?” “Will I die if I bleed too much and if mom is not around how will we handle this?”

Yep, those questions came fast and furious and I was semi-speechless. She told me one of the girls in her class brought “periods” up and several of them discussed it at recess. I don’t know what prompted this, can’t say whether someone’s mother or older sister talked about it and that is why it came up. I just know I wasn’t prepared at all.

I was happy she felt comfortable asking me about it but I sort of punted. I told her I knew what they were and what to do. I said I didn’t think she had to worry about it happening any time soon and that she should talk to mom about it.

The funny thing to me is I grew up with 2,398,281 sisters and I couldn’t tell you when they first got theirs, haven’t a clue. Don’t know that it is important, but.

And Then Came The Son

Later on I sat down with my son and asked about his day. He told me about he bombed a test and explained how the teacher had them take it while they were sitting outside waiting to see the Endeavor fly over head.

I told him not to worry and said it happens. When he asked if it ever happened to me I said yes. That prompted the follow up questions of when, why and how and because I wasn’t thinking I answered in more detail than I should have.

Her name was Kathy and she sat across from me in Chemistry.  It was Spring. She had on black shorts and this top that was modest when she sat up, but when she leaned over to write it was…less so.

I got lost staring at her. It didn’t help that I had a crush on her any more than it did to see her wearing something that gave me all sorts of ideas.

Actually things were ok with my conversation with my son until I used those four words, “all sorts of ideas.”

That was enough to make him want to know what sorts of ideas I had. I was cautious in my response because he really doesn’t need nor want too many details. Even if he wasn’t short of 12 he doesn’t need to know, but I owed him an answer.

Again I was happy to see he is comfortable asking me these questions, but it was a different sort of conversation than I remember having with my dad. When he asked me what sort of things men like to with women besides kissing I told him that one day when he was married he would find out.

And then he asked me if that means he has to wait. Something tells me he and the boys are having some conversations too.

BTW, he thinks I can tackle Big Ben and every other quarterback in the league. Remind me to tell him how smart he is.

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  1. Hajra October 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Looks like parents have to be prepared for a lot of questions?

    I hope you find the right words to tackle them!

  2. Carley Verlingk October 1, 2012 at 8:59 am

    I think it is really awkward and uncomfortable when your children come to your with problems like that, especially if you are not expecting it. It is hard to find the words to help them out, however if you can relate to them then it would make them feel so much better.

  3. Kathleen Basi September 30, 2012 at 6:46 am

    My oldest is only 7, so most of my question-answering remains in the future. But these questions of sexuality are so very important, and I think we are too afraid of them, and it ends up giving kids wrong ideas. Someday, once I’ve gotten all my kids through the adolescent years, I’m going to write a book about how to introduce and tech concepts of holistic, healthy sexuality a bit at a time, starting very young.

    Your family sounds wonderful.

    • Jack September 30, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      That sounds like a great book, but why wait to write it. It is a topic that isn’t going to go away any time soon. You could become one of the big names in parental advice.

      I am not being snarky either, you ought to look into it.

  4. Waterfall September 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    What cute questions. My eldest is only almost 5, but already he is noticing stuff – like when characters in a movie kiss or the naked model in a business magazine. He asked my why the model was “butt naked” and he wonders why others kiss on the mouth when I’ve told him only mommy and daddy can do that. Hmm.. gonna have to rethink my explanation of that one.

    • Jack September 30, 2012 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Waterfall,

      Kids are unfiltered observers of life and that is a good thing. They really help force us to think about why we do certain things and to explore all sorts of other things too.

      Most of the time I like it, but every now and then I sort of cringe a bit.

  5. Tim Bonner September 29, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Whoa Jack, those are some hefty questions!

    My kids are only 4 and 2 but man am I not looking forward to questions like that.

    Saying that there have already been some comedy moments which I won’t go into, although they didn’t feel particularly funny at the time!

    I don’t ever remember asking my parents that kind of stuff but I hope my kids will feel comfortable enough to ask me anything.

    • Jack September 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm

      Hi Tim,

      It is part of the joy of being a parent and in truth there is far more of that than anything else. These questions may be a bit awkward, but they seem to get easier each time I run through them.

      Sometimes they throw me, but it is all part of the fun.

  6. Julie September 29, 2012 at 4:04 am

    Gah! I remember my Mom telling me about the Facts Of Life when I was 9 and in the 3rd grade. I also remember wishing she hadn’t because I wasn’t ready, but it was because she had gotten her period at 9 and she just wanted me to be prepared. HOWEVER this made me really popular with all the other kids for years because whenever sex came up I knew all the facts. I don’t think their Moms, who wouldn’t answer those questions, were too thrilled with their kid’s choice in friends 🙂

    My 8 yo seems like such a baby to me – it feels weird to think the 9 yos he’s in the 3rd grade with are knowledgable. Right now I am just…wishing you and me luck 🙂

    • Jack September 30, 2012 at 2:18 pm

      Hi Julie,

      See, you have spent quite a large part of your life helping people. There is a consistent theme to me, or so I think.

      As a kid time moved far too slowly, but as a parent it feels like it is all rushing by at light speed. I don’t know about you, but I am trying to hard to grab it by the scruff of the neck an make it slow down.

  7. Betsy Cross September 29, 2012 at 2:50 am

    When my oldest daughter was about 15 she asked me if sex in marriage was for fun, or just for having children. I could see that she was a bit concerned about something, and was surprised that she was asking me something so personal. But I was also intrigued that she didn’t know the answer for herself already. We giggled and talked for a while and she breathed a sigh of relief. She was normal is what I heard her thinking! I’ll be forever grateful that my kids know they can talk to me about anything.

    • Jack September 29, 2012 at 11:30 pm

      Hi Betsy,

      You made me giggle with your line about your daughter’s thinking. It is easy to think of our parents as being out there, weird or just different, especially when it comes to sex. I have many siblings so I know it happened, but I just don’t like thinking about it.

  8. Harleena Singh September 29, 2012 at 1:44 am

    Love the way you write so lovingly about your kids Jack!

    Oh yes…they do catch us unawares so-so many times that it gets tough to get the right answers that would satisfy them.

    Your kids are cute and so much their age. 🙂 What I like most is that they are so open with you, which is very rare in some families. That shows your bonding with your kids , which happens only when you are able to give them time, even if it means be around them when they need you. And these being their formative years, I’m so glad you are there. 🙂

    I remember how my daughters confronted me the same question, though it was just me and not their father. They aren’t that open to discuss about such issues, though everything else under the sun is discussed openly. Perhaps I’m also always there at home to reply to their queries.

    There is an age for everything, though nowadays its said that the sooner you disclose and explain things to your kids the better, or else they find out the distorted version that might not give them the full picture. So, we have these sessions at home about boyfriends and how and what they should and should not and other details – good to keep them prepared .

    Thanks for sharing more about your kids with all of us. 🙂

    • Jack September 29, 2012 at 11:26 pm

      Hi Harleena,

      It is easy to write about my children. When you love them, it just comes out.

      My parents have been good role models so I grew up in a home where I knew my questions would be answered, if I decided to ask them. There were things I didn’t ask, but if I had my folks would have answered.

      So that made it clear to me that when I became a parent part of the job was to answer the hard and the easy things. Some are awkward, but it comes with the territory.

      I think it is great your daughters feel comfortable asking you these things. I expect that my daughter will start censoring some discussions with me and focus those questions with her mother, but that is ok. I know my son has already done it because sometimes you feel more comfortable asking the parent who is the same gender as you.

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