In speaking with my children about a myriad of topics, my mouth is like a runaway train, delivering too much information. Understandably, I’d rather other children hear it from their own parents, so I don’t get in trouble for educating the neighborhood.
For instance, I have described the chaos of labor, because everyone loves a good story. I’ve given accounts of how I bit their dad’s hand repeatedly because he never found a sturdy stick for me to chew on; how I almost wrenched the visor off his Acura — again, to chew on — as he begged for his beloved vehicle’s life; how I almost kicked the ER doctor in the head because I had a sudden bout of sciatica; and of how I was mortally afraid every time that the baby would refuse to leave my body no matter how hard I pushed. Such tales are an important part of family history and a good illustration of the general mayhem that results from romantic relationships.
The other day I was reorganizing bookshelves in the loft of our new home and gingerly flipping through a book containing various prints of Gustav Klimt’s work. I say gingerly, because this interesting book, while containing many harmless paintings of trees, is full of naked lady portraits.
Unfortunately, the book fell open to one particularly expressive portrait. I slammed it shut and turned to apologize to my 14-year-old daughter Ana, who pointed behind me. My youngest daughter stood there with open mouth and wide, disgusted eyes.
“Sorry, Ella!” I said, trying to sound cheerfully practical. “But any serious artist must learn to draw the human form completely without clothes — like Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, the way God made them! Many college students take such classes. I think they’re called life form — something like that! And think of Michelangelo! Michelangelo drew everyone naked, even the ones he depicted in hell! And his famous sculpture of David is buck naked. He was a brilliant artist!”
Which consequently made me think of my husband’s grandmother telling us of her trip to Florence, Italy, and describing the stature of David with great enthusiasm as “magnificent!”
“Yeah, but why do they have to draw that way?” she persisted.
“Because some of them like it!” blurted out Ana.
I then felt it necessary to talk about the relationship between men and women, and how it’s perfectly natural for a husband to draw his wife naked because he sees her that way a lot anyway, at which point my littlest boy exclaimed with a smirk, “When a mama and daddy love each other very much, they make nakey babies!’
My teenage son Berto and I laughed and wondered aloud, “What do they make when they don’t love each other very much? Babies in long johns? Babies wearing striped pajamas?” Such births would be incredibly abrasive for the mother and guaranteed to ruin the relationship entirely.
Then Berto warned me to hide the book before their little cousin, a voracious and insanely gifted reader going into the fourth grade, accidentally got hold of it and acquired a new level of knowledge.
As my kids and I were having this conversation, we realized our upstairs windows had been open the whole time to let in the nice Albuquerque breeze. Our animated conversation was drifting to all our new neighbors, and now they surely think we are a cultured but bizarre family who collects naked lady portraits.
Thanks to Klimt, my kids and I had finally educated the neighborhood.
— Hillary Ibarra
Hillary Ibarra has had several humor pieces published online, most at the incredible humorwriters.org. She is hoping to publish a book this year that she began when she was 17 and recently rediscovered with the help of her children. She is the mysterious blogger at No Pens, Pencils, Knives or Scissors. In her spare time she likes to threaten to sell her children to the zoo, and their little dog, too.