11 August, 2010

What is a virgin ?

(Image courtesy : vjcc.com via Google)

“What’s a virgin ?” asked Pecan the other day, looking all wide eyed and innocent as is possible when one is seven years old and all.

“Yeah. I’ve been wanting to ask you too” piped in Macadamia. “What i.s a virgin ?”

This was one of those moments which totally catch one unawares and leave you feeling like a fish out of water. A fish that is desperately tossing itself around, looking for redemption. Flailing, flapping and floundering – only to find that there is absolutely no respite. There is no escape. There is but one way to go and that is to bite the bullet.

“Mummeee ...... what. is. a. v.i.r.g.i.n ?” queried Pecan yet again, this time around the impatience revealing itself.

It is rather uncanny, when they come up with questions like these. One throwing questions at the vulnerable Mommy while the other watches her like one would examine a new insect species under the microscope. Two pairs of eyes focussed on you – waiting, waiting for reactions of the minutest kind – be it facial or vocal. Two pairs of hawk eyes staring at you intently .... while you fumble your way through the muddles of possible answers racing through your head with the speed of cars on a Grand Prix circuit.

“A virgin is pure” said Mommy, not able to believe what she’d just uttered, herself. “Pure ??” thought Mommy, to herself. “Where in the name of God did that come from ?” she wondered. Desperation makes people hallucinate and have delusions. In this case, sheer desperation seemed to be making Mommy delirious too. She couldn’t believe what she’d just said. Mommy really needed to thank The Virgin Mary for popping that answer into her head.

“Pure ????” What do you mean by pure ?” asked Pecan and Macadamia together, since they are never slow on the uptake in situations like these.

“Rain water is pure. Distilled water is pure” said Pecan. “Double distilled water is even purer” said Macadamia.

Mommy crossed her fingers and toes and everything else humanly possible, in the hope that the conversation would drift onto the safe field of “distilled water” from the minefield of “What is a virgin ?”.

It simply was not to be.  Life is like that sometimes. 

“Forget water. What do you mean by saying that a virgin is “pure” ? asked Macadamia, her voice dripping with suspicion. “Are you trying to n.o.t tell us something ?” she asked, her eyes narrowing ever so slightly, reminding Mommy of Hercule Poirot trying to solve a murder mystery.

"Hey ! Check the dictionary !" said Pecan as he leapt off the sofa as though there was some unseen spring in the sofa, assisting in propelling him forward.

“Hey wait !!” cried Macadamia. “I’ll check the dictionary” she cried, all but stopping short of screaming “Hallelujah” !!!

"The dictionary should give us the answer", yelled the nutty siblings, in unison, for once !!

"Don't even go there.  The dictionary will give you a rather complex answer to the already complex situation" said Mommy, her voice all but drowned by the rather victorious bellows emanating from Macadamia and Pecan.

"Absolutely geniuses, these !" thought Mommy to herself.  "Not just one, we have two of them at home." she pondered, as the mind raced in search of a reply that would be palatable to the nutty sibs when they started to throw questions at Mommy all over again, with renewed vigor.

Macadamia came back a few minutes later, dictionary in hand, an extremely quizzical expression on her face.
“The dictionary says a virgin is someone who has never had .... Whaaaa whaat is that ?” asked a genuinely puzzled Macadamia.

Her face was all distorted, her eyes wide as saucers, one hand on her head – to cut a long story short – she looked genuinely baffled and confused. And Mommy heaved a huge sigh of relief. In this case, a few more strands of hair on Mommy's head would have greyed right then and there had Macadamia been bright as a button and said “Oh ! T.h.a.t !”.

That heave of sigh did not bring about any long drawn relief though. Mommy knew that the nutty siblings would, very soon, start behaving like dogs with a bone to chew on. They simply would not let go of this topic until and unless satisfactory explanations were provided. And this simply was one of those issues wherein both siblings could not be given the same explanation at the same time, all in one go.

Call her an escapist, if you like but truth be told - Mommy definitely did not want to venture into this explanation at this point of time – not with both Macadamia and Pecan around. That would be like trying to swim through quicksand or a riptide, for that matter.

“Ok – first of all, tell me both of you, where did this word pop into your heads from ?” asked Mommy, who suddenly seemed to be breathing normally and seemed to have found her voice finally. She also realized that she’d just about sidestepped a minefield, because Macadamia had finally closed the dictionary, for the time being.

“A Scorpio is a Scorpion, A Libra is a Libran, A Virgo is a Virgin, says this book” piped the nutty sibs, together.

If Mommy could have got around to planting a firm kick on her own backside, she would have, right then and there !!

What started off as something as innocent as zodiac signs had almost floundered into unexplored territory – one that would have made giving explanations rather difficult, at this stage in their lives.

In the midst of all this came a telephone call. It turned out to be one of those advertisement calls that we receive. While these calls are normally a constant source of irritation and annoyance, in this particular instance, that call was a boon. It irritated the nutty siblings enough to have them start discussing the phone call. “Where do they get our numbers from ?” piped Pecan and then, much to Mommy’s relief, on and on they went, trying to figure out how exactly this “tele advertising” worked.

Mommy knows that this will come back to bite her one day.  But until then ..... there is the sheer bliss of having gained some breathing space.

While it is utmost necessary for parents to provide the right answers to their children as and when situations crop up, it is also true that not all questions are answerable right then and there. There are some which are age specific, some which may be palatable to one sibling but not to the other (again related to the age they are at), some answers may be downright confusing, some answers may send their imagination soaring to wild levels, some answers might be simply blocked off because children don’t want to accept what they’re hearing.

And in the midst of all this, it does become a parent’s prerogative to decide exactly how much of information to give out at what time. The choice once again comes down to “what is needed” versus “what is wanted”.

Like Benjamin Spock once said

"The child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering."

Now who was it that said parenting is easy !! ??

16 voice(s) said so:

--xh-- said...

lol - that was classic :)

Random Thoughts said...

Take then to the super market where Olive Oils are displayed...Super Virgin ones!

Phoenixritu said...

ROFL!!! Been lurking here for a long long time. This post reminded me of the time I was in the parenting hot seat. Mine chose malls and super markets to ask me horribly embarrassing questions in a high pitched kiddy voice

dipali said...

What a narrow escape!
I think the EVOO answer can be used too- purity is definitely part of it, na!

Aathira said...

Wow.... not sure whether I want to be in the parenting hot seat!

sraikh said...

I have had this exact question asked by my 5 yr old. I blogged about it here

Gauri said...

--xh-- : You go ahead and laugh for now. :)

Random Thoughts, Dipali : I'm in enough trouble already over this. As of now, I'll steer them totally off "virgin territory". :)

Sraikh : It's a wonder they didn't push for further answers - like the Hows and the Whys and the Why nots ? :)

PhoenixRitu : I've had those incidents in the supermarkets too. In fact, I just realised that I have not blogged about those. :)

Aathira : All I can say is :))))))

Anonymous said...

ROTFL. This was so, so, so hilarious.

You didnt talk of extra virgin olive oil? No? I am just asking :P


Tharini said...

Gosh talk about doggedly pursuing something! :D

I rather enjoyed reading about how they almost did you in!

Rick Taylor said...

so...what's a Libran, then?

Noble Giant said...

Roger Ebert mentioned he likes your blog on twitter (@ebertchicago). He is right; this is a well written blog.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the problem. If my son had asked that question at age 5 or 7 it would have been an easy answer:

"A virgin is someone who has not yet had sex. It is used metaphorically to indicate something that is pure or unused."

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the previous comenter... I also don´t see the problem... I really don´t understand why so many parents find difficult to answer questions that involve sex... for me it is much more difficult to answer questions that involve violence, racism, prejudice or so... it is difficult to explain how people acts sometimes... sex? that is only natural.

~Jenn said...

The challenge at our house (way smart 9- and 6.5- year olds) is when they ask questions related to stuff they DON'T already know. Easy enough to say "someone who has not yet had sex" if the child understands sex. And we're lesbian moms, so it's a little more complex! ... In any case, the underlying message here is good: "What made you think of that?" is a very good first question. I got the sex talk at 6 because I asked "Is there a baby in your tummy?" and all I wanted to hear was "Yes, and it'll come out in November." I was so irritated that Mom wasted all my time with some egg and seed and "very special hug" crap.

Anonymous said...

I remember asking my mom the same question when i was nine and she said the same thing. :)

So i went off to check the dictionary and ended up with the same hurdle.But i went and checked what that word meant.It went on and on till i found out everything from the dictionary. The nine year old me was completely disgusted by the whole explanation .
Wished i had just stuck to mommy's explanation. :)

Laura said...

It reminds me of my first year of teaching - and my first sex education class. Part of the supplied lesson plan involved a question and answer session at the end of the lesson. The first question, from a 12 year old girl, "Was my mother a wh***?"

With a big inner gulp, I came up with the dictionary response first - what is the definition of a wh***? A woman who has sex for pay. Then the why do you want to know question. Turned out, her mother had given birth to her when she was 13 years old and people had been teasing/making fun of her a lot. She really needed to know.