There comes a time (actually, several times)
when a parent has to explain a delicate subject to his or her young children. Like when
we got the dog neutered. The boys were aware that the dog was going to the vet, and as
dreaded date approached, they wanted to know why he was going.
"Because he's getting neutered," I said.
they wanted to know.
"It's so he can't make
And just when I thought they were satisfied
with the answer, Jimmy (dubbed a "gifted" child by the state school system), wanted to
"What's 'neutered' mean? How is he
I passed my hand over my mouth as I mumbled, "They cut his
Well, that was easy, I
So poor Sammy went to the vet. He underwent the procedure, and
then we had to go pick him up. I had the two boys in the car with me, and I told them
that Sammy's not going to be feeling very well, so they should just leave him
The kids waited in the car while I retrieved the dog from the
vet's office. When I returned to the car and opened the door, the kids were engaged in a
"You have to be careful of his paw, Danny," Jimmy was
telling his younger brother.
"Why?" asked Danny.
they cut his paw, Danny, that's what neutered is. Right, Mum? They cut his
"No, they didn't cut his paw," I told them as I eased the dog into
the back of the SUV.
"Well what did they do? I thought you said they cut
his paw?" Jimmy persisted.
"No, they didn't cut his paw. That's not what
I said," I responded, wishing Jimmy would just drop the subject, but he wouldn't let it
"What did they do, Mum? Tell me. Mum? Tell me. I want to know." Nag,
Should I tell him? Clearly he didn't understand what I said the
first time he asked. He thought I said "paw" instead of "balls," probably because I was
talking into my hand at the time.
"C'mon Mum. Tell
"All right." I turned to face the two boys in the back seat. "They
cut his balls off. That's what they did." I really could think of no other way to put
Jimmy sat in stunned silence, face pale, eyes huge and mouth agape.
Danny wore a puzzled look on his face.
"No," Jimmy gasped. "They
I turned around in my seat, put the car in gear and began
driving. Jimmy reached over the back seat and grabbed my arm, his voice a little
"Did they really, Mum? Did they really cut his balls
"Yes," I told him. "That's how they neuter a
"What? What happened?" Danny asked, confused. "Jimmy, what
Jimmy turned to his brother, horrified. "They cut Sammy's
balls off," Jimmy informed him.
"What's that?" Danny didn't get it, so
Jimmy pointed to his crotch area in an effort to help Danny
Then it was Danny's turn to go pale. He instinctively put his
hands over his lap and howled, "YOU MEAN THEY CUT OFF HIS PENIS?"
This was out of control.
"No, no, Dan," I said. "They didn't do
Danny turned to his brother again for
"No, the things on the side. Those are the balls," Jimmy
explained. He turned back to me. "Can I see, Mum? Can I see Sammy?"
you can't see. Leave the poor dog alone."
Dan sat back in the seat, hands
still covering his lap and sweat breaking out on his brow.
Why did I do
that? Why didn't I just make something up? Why didn't I just agree that they cut the
dog's paw? What the hell is the matter with me? What made me think they could even begin
The boys were silent for the next mile or so, with the
exception of a few "Poor Sammy" sighs they let escape.
The next thing I
heard were snorts and suppressed giggles coming from the back seat. It didn't take them
long to break out into uncontrollable laughter, clutching one another in a fit of
hysteria, tears streaming down their faces.
I suppose I should have expected
"Look," I told them when we stopped at the traffic light. "I thought
if you were smart enough to ask the question, then you were smart enough to handle the
answer." Oh boy, did I expect too much. "So knock it off." We drove
the rest of the
way home with the boys breaking into sporadic fits of laughter. "I bet you Sammy doesn't
think it's funny," I felt compelled to tell them. This only made them laugh harder.
Sammy just hung his head over the back seat, morose and forlorn.
time we got home the boys were more or less under control. I brought Sammy in, and the
boys went off to play.
Then my husband came home. They broke their necks
to get to him.
"Dad! Guess what? Sammy got his balls cut off!" They again
fell into each other, laughing.
"Oh yeah?" says Dad, looking at me over
their heads, suppressing his laughter. But I think he could tell by the look on my face
that I was all done with this.
Their grandmother called that night, and
they had to tell her that Sammy got his balls cut off. The next day they went to school
and told their teachers and classmates that Sammy got his balls cut off. They told anyone
who would listen that Sammy got his balls cut off.
Within 24 hours
Sammy was up and about and his usual dog self. The boys haven't raised the incident
again. I guess they're over it. Either that or they're so traumatized they've blocked
it all out.