"Do some dads get children then make the woman leave?" Oliver asks. We're in the car together on the way to an appointment when he asks the question. It catches me off guard because it seems to come out of nowhere — that and it's phrased a little peculiarly, too.
"Do you mean, do some men get married just to have children then make their wife move out when they finally have all the kids they want?"
I'm suppressing a laugh, something I have to do often in this business. I try hard to make our home a place where open discussion can take place, where the boys feel free to ask Brooks and me anything. In fact, once I came out and said as much to them: "If you have the courage to ask me, I will have the courage to tell you." I said, referring to things they might hear at school but are too embarrassed to bring up. I had no idea my words would produce such instant results. Oliver comes straight up to me with his middle finger extended horizontally to the floor and says, "Did you know this is a swear word?" He is in total earnest, I in total suppression.
I am loving the stage of life Oliver is in right now. He is so full of curiosity but at the same time hasn't been socialized enough to edit his questions and comments. This makes for some very lively discussions. Take today, for example, when he tells me he's glad he's not a girl.
"Why's that?" I want to know, already thinking of my own reasons.
"Because then they'll never have to cut my tummy open to get the baby out."
"Sometimes that's how doctors have to deliver a baby but most of the time it doesn't happen that way," I say, apparently persuading him that being a girl wouldn't be so bad after all (?).
"Then how does the baby get out?"
When I explain how that biz all shakes out, I can see by the look on his face that he'd rather have his stomach cut open.
OK, so back to the car conversation.
I want to give his question a thoughtful response but all that comes to mind are images of what a baby-hungry predator might look like. Is he white collar? Does he congregate in communities of like-minded dads? Does he live next door to me? Really, such a specimen of irresponsibility could be anyone. While I'm thinking of it, I add this as reason #798 to my list of why I should not have another baby.
"Well, Oliver," I begin, as I usually do. I then go on about all the different shapes and sizes a family can take, different divorce scenarios and child-custody arrangements. This goes on for a few minutes with me blah-blah-blahing and him politely listening when suddenly I stop.
I totally get where he's coming from now.
"Hey," I ask, a hint of accusation in my voice. "Are you wanting to know if someday I'm going to move out so you and Brahm can live with Dad all by yourselves, just the boys?"
"Uh-huh." he replies, sounding as if today might be a good one to start packing.
I see how it is. Well, I guess this time the joke's on me!