"Mom! That lady getting in her car had the same pink lacy underpants you do!"
So we heard, from a classmate of my son's, during the morning procession from parking lot to classroom door this morning.
Walking hand-in-hand with my son just a few steps behind (and thus well within earshot), I mentally chanted: Please don't say anything. Please don't say anything.
"Mom? Mom!" he said in a stage whisper, audible throughout the parking lot and likely down at the street corner.
"Yes, David?" I said, not bothering to whisper.
"I'm not supposed to talk about things like underwear and butts and stuff until we get home, right?"
"But I can ask you about it then?"
At least he's trying. My son understands the impropriety of seeing and talking about "private" matters, but at the same time, we're trying to raise him with a healthy sense of the matter; we don't assign shame or the word "dirty" to anything. Hence, his tendency to usually, and I stress usually, follow the sanction against public panty discourse, and his utter lack of comprehension when Mom and Dad are red-faced when he slips up.
While none of us run around half-dressed at home, a recent fascination of his is bright colors and anything he considers "fancy"-looking. Lingerie departments have become an adventure.
On a trip to a department store, I went in the dressing room to try on a few items. The dressing room, like most, is located seemingly in the heart of the lingerie department. To get there, you go through a corridor of bras and nighties and shorts featuring SpongeBob SquarePants in places SpongeBob was never meant to be.
According to my husband, while I was in there, the dialogue went like this.
"Dad! Mom should have this!"
He looked over to find my son with a fist planted inside a fiery red satin bra.
"Mom doesn't need that, sweetie."
"But she would like it! It's like her other fancy red one!"
"No, that's okay. She doesn't need one. Try to be a little quieter, please."
"But she likes to wear her fancy red one! And she already has a pink one that's fancier, so the red one could be her new one."
"She doesn't need it, David. It's not even her size."
"What is her size?"
"Never mind. Just don't play with those, please. We're not buying any."
"Is Mom buying any?"
"No. Why don't you look at something else?"
"Okay. Hey! SpongeBob is on those underwear! Are those for girls or boys?"
"There's some for both. They have a kind for girls and a kind for boys. But these are for adults."
"Why? SpongeBob is a kids' show."
"I don't know. We're not getting any."
"So is that where the penis goes on the boys' ones? Why is SpongeBob right there?"
"David, I don't know. Please be a little more quiet."
At this point, I came out to ask his opinion on a pair of slacks.
My husband: "Hey! There's Mom! They look fine; they both look fine. Let's go." I got two new pairs of pants that day, with absolutely no discussion or protest.
A few days later, I came out of the bathroom to find David waiting patiently to show me something.
"My snake has babies, and they're using a lacy blanket!"
Your ... whaaa? I had no idea. All I remembered was that I had left the laundry on the couch to fold, so I figured he'd grabbed something out of there. It didn't really register.
He led me to the love seat, where he'd brought a stuffed snake he's had for a while. He had nestled the snake's midsection inside a particular intimate article of clothing, which is pink and is indeed lacy. Next to it was a neat row of tampons ... the babies.
We have a new rule. Except for laundry chores, no one is to touch anyone's underwear except his or her own. I never really thought I would officiously lay down such a law, but it seems to be working.
And the lady from the parking lot, according to my son's friend, had a "string coming out of her pants." Gotta love whale-tails in the elementary school parking lot.