Just Go Ahead and Revoke my Parenting License
Yeah. That really happened. And so did this next story, which I think is marginally worse than the pay-for-sex story, if by “worse” I mean (and I do mean) “able to make me look like an even more terrible parent.”
Allow me to set the scene: It was a Friday morning. All five of us were huddled around the front door as Miles and Tim got ready to head out for school and work. I was probably still in my pajamas, propping Eric up on my hip. Alec might very well have been spinning around on the linoleum, reciting all the words from the intro song for the “Pokémon” cartoon. And those last details don’t really matter, because what does matter is that Miles was skipping around the foyer in his typical spirited fashion, waxing obsessive about the latest Penn State basketball game. (The kid has developed a major obsession with college basketball. And football. And pretty much anything that involves a ball, jerseys, and esoteric statistics that he can memorize.)
The most important detail here is that Miles was pronouncing “Penn State” as “Pennis State.” And this made me snicker. This made me laugh out loud. This made me defenseless in the face of the similarity between his pronunciation of “Penn State” and the word “penis.”
BECAUSE I AM A VERY, VERY MATURE PERSON.
So then, because I am an exceedingly mature person, I told Miles that I was going to sign him up for a super-secret club.
“Ooh, what kind of club, Mommy?”
“The Pen Fifteen Club!” (And for those of you who didn’t learn about the Pen Fifteen Club during your adolescence, hold your horses: I’ll get right to it.)
Tim gave me the look of doom–which, coincidentally, is the look that I often give him whenever he says something inappropriate to the kids–so I started muttering something about how I hoped that Miles enjoyed the pretzel sticks in his lunch later that day and that “no, please don’t say anything about the Pen Fifteen Club, it is SUPER SECRET” then ran up the stairs to take a shower. Crisis of Impropriety averted! Even if indelicately so!
Fast-forward to yesterday evening.
Tim was working late, and the boys and I were all seated around the table eating black bean enchiladas. Out of the blue, Miles began asking me about “that club that I was supposed to sign him up for.”
“Miles,” I replied, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
And I was serious. Last Friday’s events had gone in one brain cell and out the other.
“You know, Mom,” he insisted. “The one that has to do with college sports.”
I gave him a pathetic blank stare.
“Oh Mom, come ON! It had to do something with Pennis State! You said it was a super secret club and that I couldn’t say anything about it to my friends.”
As the truth of what he was asking me dawned on my overtired brain, my heart sank just a bit. Because on the one hand, now I really had to explain to him what the Pen Fifteen Club was all about (and yes, I’ll get to it soon). But I also had to explain to him that it was a completely made-up club: more of a practical joke than an actual club.
“Well Miles,” I began with a tone that spoke both to my shame and that little part of me that is mind-blowingly immature. “The Pen Fifteen Club isn’t a real club. It’s more of a joke.”
Miles narrowed his eyes at me.
“You see, when you ask someone if they want to join the Pen Fifteen Club, and they say yes, then you write ‘PEN 15′ on their hand. And then it looks like this.”
I scrawled the letters and numbers onto a nearby piece of paper.
I held up the paper so he could see it. “See, honey? Then someone has to go around all day with this written on their hand.”
Miles looked confused. “I don’t get it.”
Now I looked confused. “But don’t you see? What does this word look like? The letters ‘P-E-N’ and the number ’15′ looks like…”
I let the words hang in the air, hoping that I didn’t have to spell it out for him.
“Mom, I still don’t get it.”
“OH MILES, IT’S PENIS! PEN15 LOOKS LIKE THE WORD PENIS! Isn’t that HILARIOUS?!”
“Ohhhh,” Miles said. “I always thought that ‘penis’ was spelled with a ‘u,’ not an ‘i’!”
“Well, whatever, now you know why the Pen Fifteen Club is such a silly thing. AND WHY YOU CAN NEVER DO THIS TO ANY OF YOUR CLASSMATES AT SCHOOL, RIGHT?! But it is pretty funny, isn’t it?”
“I dunno. I guess so,” he responded, completely unimpressed with the unparalleled cleverness that is the Pen Fifteen Club. “I think you still need to sign me up for some sort of super secret club.”
What about the Children of Parents who are Honestly Too Immature to Raise Kids Club?