"Masyado kang bata para diyan!"
So I was a curious kid. Also a stubborn one.
Two of my dad's brothers would perform little magic tricks during our Sunday lunches, like making coins or toothpicks or wads of tissue paper disappear. "Magic!" they'd tell me. "DO IT AGAIN, THIS TIME KEEP YOUR HANDS OPEN," I'd tell them.
The more the they'd insist the trick was magic the more I'd insist it was not.
I'd be the killjoy of the party. I'd be the "hey, I found the piece of tape you put on the balloon so it wouldn't pop when you stuck a needle in it" kid. (And I really did crawl around on the floor 'til I found the tape!) Because look guys, if you didn't want your illusion spoiled in front of all my cousins stop insulting my intelligence is all I'm saying!
Which is to say, that's why I ended up loving magic tricks. I have books and books of them here at home! Because there's always something for me to find out, a puzzle to solve, an explanation to figure out — and I wouldn't stop until I did.
And so it was with everything else.
When I was growing up, I would always be annoyed whenever I'd ask an adult something, and they'd wave me off.
"Later na, when you're older." "Basta." "Ask your mom." "You're too young for that."
But: I'm asking you now??? I'm curious right at this moment??? And you're going to make me wait an unknown number of years???
I was a very indignant child.
And of course, just like the magic tricks, the more they dismissed, the more I pushed. The stronger I pushed, the stronger they dismissed.
That just made me feel like, there's something you're not telling me, and you're not even telling me why you won't tell me? If you can't come up with a good reason, then there aren't any, so spill, Tita!
There wasn't Google yet then, so I had to create my own incognito mode.
Like when my mom was pregnant with my brother and I "bought her a book" chronicling conception to pregnancy to childbirth, and then read it when they thought I was napping.
Or learning about sex from a book that was really for parents; it had tough kid questions and suggested answers broken down by age of the kid, and I may or may not have read all the answers. At my cousins' house. When they were napping.
Two takeaways from my own childhood:
Kids are curious the same way charging trains aren't gonna change course. I was relentless in finding answers. If I wasn't getting it from adults, I was gonna get it from somewhere. Pre-internet.
There are always ways to explain things! I found the answers I was looking for. I understood the answers I was looking for. I was weirded out that, wait, this is what people were trying to keep from me? Because..? When, yun lang pala?
So when I had my own son, of course I promised myself never to say, "Masyado kang bata para diyan."
I never want to give "basta" as a reason for the way things are. A kid who takes "ah basta ganun" in childhood will become an adult who will take "ah basta ganun" in adulthood and if that isn't scary. I wanted to answer his questions and encourage his curiosity!
It wasn't long 'til my mom (hi mom!) was laughing at me, going, bet you regret that promise now! Because yeah it was a challenge.
My first foray into tricky conversations was when I realized my then-two-year-old had never heard the word "dad."
Then we started talking about sperm and egg cells, which in itself was super easy to talk about, because science. 'Til he asked me how the sperm gets to the egg in the first place.
Last year, our org had a guest from the states come over. He has a PhD, so we address him as Doctor. My son freaked out, because he was getting a shot, until I explained that, oh, don't worry, he's just here to talk about drugs. So of course he asks, "Mommy, what's drugs?"
Last Good Friday, I tried to explain to him what Easter meant beyond the candies and egg hunt. (It didn't go so well.)
Not too long ago, our little adopted kitten, Zorro, died from Too Many Worms For a Teeny Tiny Stray and There Was Nothing Deworming Could Do, His System Was Just Really Overwhelmed, and I had to explain what that meant in between tears and sobs of, "But I took care of him!"
Oh right, and there was time that he yelled in the office, "MOMMY, WHAT'S PORN?"
But what all these taught me is that dealing with tricky questions and awkward situations is a muscle:
It gets much easier with practice!
Questions don't register as tricky anymore, and situations become exponentially less awkward. Not to say I'm never caught red-cheeked ('cause I still do get caught "Oh! Um.. wait lang"-ing!) but it takes much more to get me flustered now than it took to get me flustered then.
And I think that's really important!
I super super cherish my relationship with my son.
No matter how awkward things get, I love that he can still open up to me honestly when he's feeling bad. I love that he can plant his hands on his hips and insist I explain something better! I love that he trusts what I say and I can trust what he says.
Mom gut feel: answering every question — no matter how uncomfortable — as neutral and judgment-free as I can is pretty key to our sobrang-cherish-this closeness.
Because he's able to come to me. Because he knows he can. Because he gets something out of it (i.e. an answer instead of a dismissal). And then he'll keep coming back! It's not a vicious cycle; it's a precious cycle! It becomes a renewable source of opportunity-gold-nuggets!
So okay, I'm making things difficult for myself.
I mean: promising everything, no matter how awkward, and oh, I forgot to mention, no matter how insignificant! ― it's not easy.
Because sometimes it's annoying. Sometimes my temper gets the better of me. Sometimes, maaaan, I don't care! Or sometimes the questions are just too hard, and I don't want to deal.
But what would Little Me say?
Probably something like,
Get your shit together, bes.
It's worth it.
My favorite tips & tricks for awkward conversations? They're here!
I made a cheat sheet with the 5 quick and practical ways I use to turn my crazy conversations with this crazy little boy around! (+ a #LazyMomHack, hehe) Keep him curious and keep my sanity, that's my goal!