May 23, 201207:37 AMMinivan Diaries
Fifty Shades of Uncomfortable: “Mommy Porn” Hits Home
The "Fifty Shades" trilogy has led the New York Times best-seller lists (combined print and e-books) this spring. Photo courtesy of Vintage Books.
Your son is sitting at the kitchen table, apparently riveted by an article in the New York Times. You smile at the quaint scene (he’s reading an actual newspaper!). Then he looks up at you and asks, “What’s ‘mommy’ porn?”
It takes a while for you to regain consciousness. Your first thoughts are, well, unprintable, and they are directed at Times publisher Arthur Sulzburger. Really, Arthur? Fifty Shades of Grey? On the front page? Above the fold?
However, outwardly you try to project an air of calm. This is undermined a bit by the clatter you make putting away the family defibrillator.
Your first strategy is a time-honored one: Evasion.
“Oh, it’s just a silly term someone made up,” you say airily. “What would you like for dinner? How about an ice cream sundae? Cotton candy?”
Your transparent attempt to distract him is not successful.
“I know porn is unhealthy people having unhealthy sex on the Internet. . .” he says.
(You ponder this, thinking maybe you didn’t do such a bad job in that conversation after all.)
“. . . But what is “mommy” porn?” he persists.
You reach for the next weapon in your parenting arsenal: Feigned ignorance.
“Huh! I can’t even imagine,” you say.
As soon as the words are out of your mouth, you feel guilty for not answering him. Even worse -- it doesn’t work.
He picks up the paper. “It says right here….”
You grab the paper out of his hands.
“Well, let’s see,” you say, ruminatively. “Apparently someone wrote a book that lots of women are buying that has some explicit sex scenes.”
There. Whew. Are we done?
“What does ‘explicit’ mean?” he asks.
“It means it has a lot of details,” I respond.
“Why on earth would moms want to read THAT?” he asks, shocked.
Given that your own fantasies about your husband seem to be limited to hearing “Honey, I thought I’d tidy up all this annoying clutter!” to “You’re so right – again!” you realize you may not be the best person to answer this question.
“People are curious,” you offer. “And moms are grownups. And grownups can decide what they want to read about, because they have enough life experience to put things in context.”
Phew. You are hanging in.
“Weird,” he says.
“I know,” you say. “What will they think of next?” and you try to chuckle nonchalantly. It comes out a bit like a cackle.
You look at him, wondering if he will be sharing any of this with anyone at school tomorrow. Like, with a megaphone. At the top of the slide during recess.
There’s a pause. He grabs a whiffle bat and ball and heads out the door. He seems satisfied.
But then he stops.
You turn. “Did I answer all your questions, honey?” you ask.
He looks at you seriously.
You steel yourself.
“Can I really have an ice cream sundae for dinner?” he asks.