Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Mouths of Babes

This week I took the long drive down to El Paso, TX.  It is the closest 'big' city near us, and also the location of my doctor.  Scott couldn't come (some one's gotta do the 'real' work in this family!), so I was on my own with both kids for the 1 1/2 hour car trip.  I had resolved to myself to take advantage of this excursion out of our little town and knock out Goal #2 while we were at it.  So, with picnic lunch packed, we headed from the doctor's office to the zoo, with a stop on the way at a gas station for drinks.

I am always very aware of my whiteness when I'm in El Paso.  It is right on the border (you can see the Rio Grande from the interstate), and I'm guessing about half the population come over from Mexico every day to work in and around the city.  I double checked that the car doors were locked when we pulled into the Valero station downtown, and held tightly to both kids' hands when we went into the convenience store.

After we had picked out our drinks (orange juice for Sophie and Gatorade for Xander - they were super pumped), we were standing in line to pay and this woman behind us started cooing at the kids.  I don't know Spanish, but it sounded like, "Awww, what cute kids!"  She reached out to touch Xander's white-blond hair.  This happens all the time when we are out and about down there, so I let it go.  Plus, I was used to the same thing happening to me as a kid in the Solomons. 

By the time we got to the zoo, we were all very ready to get out of the car and run off some steam.  We meandered through the African section first, king and queens of the zoo on this deserted Thursday afternoon.  The animals were as curious as the kids, trotting up to say hi as they poked their little heads over the low grating.  I strolled along behind, letting Sophie and Xander choose our course, reveling in the simple joy of them, while the kind winter sun kissed us all with a gentle benediction. 

Eventually we came upon the elephants.  The kids had been especially excited about finding them.  The two great, grey beasts stood with their backs to us, swaying in unison to some ancient, primal jungle beat. 

"Look guys, they're dancing!"  The elephant on the left turned its head ever so slightly to give us a 'I know you're there and am choosing to ignore you' look.  Sophie stared for along moment, then:

"Mom, what's that hanging down on that elephant?"

I glanced at where she was pointing, "That's its trunk, sweetie." 

"No, there, hanging down in the back of it."  I had a little sinking feeling in my stomach as I realized that this was very obviously a MALE elephant. 

"Um, that's his penis, Sophie,"  I said, trying to keep my voice normal.  We use the anatomically correct words for body parts in our household.  I glanced over at a young couple standing a few yards from us, hoping they weren't cued in on the conversation. 

"Oh!"  When Sophie gets excited, she gets loud.  "That's the daddy elephant!"  She looked quickly over to the other one, her forehead wrinkled in thought. 

"LOOK, MOMMY!"  Sophie shouted.  "THAT ELEPHANT HAS A VAGINA!!!"

I about died.


  1. Ha ha! Love it. Providence has brought home several anatomically correct pictures from school and luckily she doesn't go into detail for her teacher about which part of her picture is a vagina and which is a penis.

  2. That made me laugh! And it reminded me of the last time we went to the zoo: