A Delicate Matter
Click here to buy posters
In Association with Amazon.com
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 the dreaded date approached, they wanted to know why he was going.

"Because he's getting neutered," I said.

"What's that?" they wanted to know.

"It's so he can't make puppies."


And just when I thought they were satisfied with the answer, Jimmy (dubbed a "gifted" child by the state school system), wanted to know more.

"What's 'neutered' mean? How is he neutered?"

I passed my hand over my mouth as I mumbled, "They cut his balls off."


Well, that was easy, I thought.

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 alone to rest.

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 conversation.

"You have to be careful of his paw, Danny," Jimmy was telling his younger brother.

"Why?" asked Danny.

"Because they cut his paw, Danny, that's what neutered is. Right, Mum? They cut his paw?"

"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 go.

"What did they do, Mum? Tell me. Mum? Tell me. I want to know." Nag, nag, 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 me."

"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 it.

Jimmy sat in stunned silence, face pale, eyes huge and mouth agape. Danny wore a puzzled look on his face.

"No," Jimmy gasped. "They didn't really."

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 panicky.

"Did they really, Mum? Did they really cut his balls off?"

"Yes," I told him. "That's how they neuter a dog."

"What? What happened?" Danny asked, confused. "Jimmy, what happened?"

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 understand.

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?"

Oh, man. This was out of control.

"No, no, Dan," I said. "They didn't do that."

Danny turned to his brother again for clarification.

"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?"

"No, 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 to understand?

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 this.

"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.

By the 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.

Submissions Contributors Advertise About Us Contact Us Disclaimer Privacy Links Awards Request Review Contributor Login
© Copyright 2002 - 2018 NightsAndWeekends.com. All rights reserved.