The boys race to get the newspaper in the morning. Of course, a very large part of me wishes it were so they could race each other to the crossword, or news of the election — in which they are surprisingly interested; I suppose to a young, competitive boy, a race is a race is a race. But word games and political follies aren’t what get them out of bed and flying out the front door in the morning. My boys race each other to the sports section where they pore over charts that mean nothing to me — I might as well be reading them upside down in the dark for all the sense I can make of them. They discuss the previous day’s games and even, sadly, which player has been suspended for which misdeed. (Note to professional athletes: I do not at all like that DUI is part of an eight year old’s lexicon.)
This morning, Efram looked up from the sports pages and said, ‘Hey, this doesn’t belong here. Why is there sex in the sports section?” And he read the headline, that Jerry Sandusky had been sentenced to at least 30 years for sexually abusing boys.
I do not hide the fact that I will go to tremendous lengths to avoid discussing sex with my children. Just last week, while reading The Once and Future King to the boys, we came upon a passage about ‘the Wart’ (King Arthur’s boyhood nickname) being illegitimate. I raced over the word, but the boys caught it and asked what it meant. I suppose I could have made up an answer, but it didn’t feel right. I could have said that he was adopted, but that’s hardly illegitimate and I wasn’t about to set that dangerous precedent. So I told them. He was born out of wedlock. (One easy way to confound kids is to answer questions about confusing words with even more confusing words.) Eventually I had to get to the meat of the issue, which was awkward, even if humorous. And as much as I disliked it (and I did, believe me), I was pleased to have the opportunity to chat with them about birds, bees, and knights. It all seemed quite organic.
Jerry Sandusky in the sports pages did not feel at all organic. I suppose among the man’s many crimes, is that little boys now have to read about his misdeeds over their Cheerios. And while sex has been on the sports pages for quite a while (I have told them that the only way they can talk about Ben Roethlisberger in the house is to refer to him as “The Chump”), and while I’m going to use Sandusky as an opportunity to talk about safety, the whole thing felt invasive.
Breakfast time was bad enough before this. Yuck.