“The Whiteheads are coming to visit,” I told Naomi and Milo.
“White Head?” Naomi crinkled her nose. She thought it was a funny name. I guess I probably thought the same, when I first heard it, but that was so long ago I can’t remember. You see, Mrs. Whitehead was my first grade teacher. AGES ago, I know. And her oldest daughter, Kirsten, babysat us when we were little, changing my sister’s diapers if not my own.
They’re veteran parents, veteran GRANDparents, and both former elementary school teachers. We entered our house and the first thing they wanted to do, even before using the toilet, was to have the kids show them their rooms. They admired everything, the chaos, the wall decor, even the animal heads.
“What’s this?” they asked, stroking the tahr’s mane.
“It’s a tahr, a kind of Himalayan mountain goat,” I said, a little apologetically. I’m never sure how people are going to feel about the dead animals on our walls.
“It doesn’t have any penis!” Naomi announced.
“No, its penis got cut off!” Milo added, just to make sure Mrs. Whitehead understood what his little sister had said.
I started mentally scrambling for responses I might use to diffuse the situation (“That’s right, we leave the guts in the mountains”… OR “Nope, it doesn’t have any meat on it anymore…”) while in my mind I wondered exactly what a tahr penis looks like…I suppose it does come off with the skin???
Mrs. Whitehead didn’t bat an eye.
After 45 years of kids, I don’t think a thing they can say would ruffle their feathers.