March 19, 2010

Dad, What is Prostate Cancer?

I am stopped at a red light, one man behind the wheel of a minivan. To my left A beautiful brunette is behind the wheel of a Prius.I smile and think about how different life is now from what it used to be. I turn onto the on ramp, step on the gas and smile at the memory of my Camaro. It is different for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is that there are children in the car with me, my children.

My driving and general demeanor are a bit different when the kids are around. I am not just a commuter on the road today. No, I am a the chief of staff, head of security and knight protector of my charges. Watch me walk with them in public and you'll see my eyes scanning the crowd, always alert for the first sign of trouble.

The morning routine was a bit different than normal. The children know that their grandfather is having surgery and have all sorts of questions for me. We made sure to be prepared for just this thing and have laid the groundwork for this talk. Shouldn't be a big deal.

It was supposed to be easy and had my plan worked it would have been just that, easy. Except as the saying goes people plan and G-d laughs. I know, because I can still hear him chuckling, or maybe it is a more a of a belly laugh. Wouldn't be the first time.

Grandpa has prostate cancer. The docs caught it early so the prognosis is good. But there is no need for the kids to be given more information than they need. So we told them that he had a medical issue that the docs wanted to take care of. They asked if he would be in the hospital for a long time and were told no. That satisfied their curiosity or so I thought.

But what I didn't realize was that they would pull the time honored trick of pretending to be asleep. Well, I don't know if they pretended or not, what I do know is that they overheard a late night conversation and remembered hearing "prostate cancer."

So now I am being interrogated about what prostate cancer is and can I show them a picture of their prostate. I explain that it is something that boys have and my daughter shouts out "I know you have a penis and we don't." I smile and tell her that she is right. She tells me that she knows all about this and proceeds to list all of the penises she has seen in more detail than I'd like.

Most of her list is composed of her friends baby brothers. Apparently she and her friends like to help the mommys change diapers. She tells me that she pays attention since one day she is going to be a mommy. I tell her that sounds great and that it is ok for her to wait until she is 50 to do that. She laughs and tells me that's way too old. Something tells me that my baby girl is way too smart, certainly smarter than I am. So I make a mental note to amp up my work out so that when she is old enough to attract boys I have the kind of biceps that will scare them.

Her brother tells me that since he is a boy he needs to know what the prostate does and asks if there are exercises for it. I take a breath and consider what sort of answer to give them. Before I can answer he follows up with a comment about cancer. I don't quite catch what he says, a woman in a Mercedes is trying to force her way in to my lane.

I glare at her. It is the interchange between the 101 and the 405. She has intentionally waited until the last minute to switch lanes. But I am not moving over. There really isn't anywhere for me to go and she had plenty of time to move before. This is about trying to save two minutes at my esxpense.

She is lucky that I don't have telekinetic powers because if I did her car would magically be transported to the side of the freeway.

I answer his question with a question. I want to know if they are nervous about the surgery. They nod their heads and I offer them a reassuring smile and tell them that it is not a big deal. A few moments later we approach school and they are distracted by their friends.

As we walk to their classes I hug and kiss them goodbye. Neither one of them ask me any more questions so I don't offer anything. Silence will be my answer for now, but if they ask I'll come up with something. Hours later school is over, homework is done and the phone rings. It is grandpa and he wants to speak with them.

They take the phone and giggle. I don't know what has been said, but they are happy and that works. Doesn't mean that this topic won't be revisited, but until it happens I am keeping my mouth shut.


SAHD PDX said...

I know that interchange well if it's the one heading south on 101 where it meets the 405. Questions like that are part of what I love about being a parent. How do I say in a way you will understand as well as not introducing more questions I may not want to answer yet. Well done

One Wink at a Time said...

The fact that you were impelled to write this post, not to mention how wonderfully, is a perfect testament to your compassion and love for your children. They are in very good hands.

Jack said...

Questions like that are part of what I love about being a parent. How do I say in a way you will understand as well as not introducing more questions I may not want to answer yet.

Oh man is it ever challenging at times, but there is a certain joy in it. The beauty of watching the kids learn and to see such an inquisitive nature.

They are in very good hands.

I hope so. Some of the 'fruits' of our labor won't show for years, so we shall see what happens.

Kristen @ Motherese said...

I often thank my lucky stars that my kids are young enough not to ask these heavyweight questions yet - I've got a little while to brainstorm some answers. It sounds, though, like you'll be a good resource for me the first time one of these doozies comes up!

Oh, and the little bit about the woman in the Mercedes making the last second merge? One of my biggest pet peeves!

rutimizrachi said...

I love this one! All of the elements are handled so well: aging gracefully (?) as memories of the Camaro flit past; the kids' questions, which always catch us off-guard; the worries/not worries about their grandfather; more worries about the eyeblink-away marriage of the daughter...

I give you the bracha that you will indeed be tough enough -- even if it's not muscular biceps but a menacing look over the top of your bifocals -- to keep the young men in line until just the right one finds your little girl... and that you will dine on golden plates at her wedding, and dance between courses, to paraphrase a Chassidic blessing.

Jack said...

Oh, and the little bit about the woman in the Mercedes making the last second merge? One of my biggest pet peeves!

It drives me crazy. I am always amazed by how many of these people want to play chicken with me.

As for the hard questions, well they will come no stopping that. ;)

Hi Ruti,

I never turn down a good Bracha, thank you. Life is nothing but interesting, albeit sometimes more challenging than we would like. ;)