My daughter is an animal lover. So for her 10th birthday, I took her and her besties to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for the day. It was pretty much the best day ever … and then it got even, um, better. For one lucky penguin at least.
We saved the penguin exhibit for last. I was a bit behind the group so I could make sure there were no stragglers, when suddenly I heard my son’s voice ring out from the crowd. “Why is he pooping on her?”
My husband then came rushing back towards me, laughing hysterically.
“Penguin porn!” he sputtered.
I walked up and saw it. Two penguins getting it on. And the spot they chose couldn’t be better. Or worse. They decided to have relations right in front of the big bubble pop out window little kids use to get up close and personal with the animals. Only this was a bit too personal.
The kids seemed confused at first. Why was he on top of her? Why was he shaking? Why was he pooping on her? And then it dawned on one of the older girls.
“They’re making penguin babies!” she yelled.
Most of the kids in the group had clearly already had The Talk and started giggling. But one girl looked confused.
“Why is everyone laughing?” she asked.
I looked to Gabe and my friend Jacquie for backup, but he was too busy giggling like a 12-year-old boy and she was occupied in giving her middle child an on-the-spot condensed version of The Talk. Before I could react, the group of girls had gathered around the confused girl and one of the kids (a doctor’s child) had rolled up her aquarium maps into a cylinder and a rod and was giving a full-on medical demonstration of how people, and penguins, make babies. She was shoving the papers together, in and out, in and out, in and out, in a graphic display.
I rushed over and grabbed the maps. “Let's not do it. I mean that.” I turned to the girl who looked confused and asked if her parents had, er, had The Talk with her yet.
“What talk?” she said.
And then I called her mom. As the phone rang I started to panic. What would I say to her??? What could I say??? I had destroyed her child's innocence! She had trusted me with her kid for the day and it had turned into an episode of Dr. Ruth! No one would ever let their kids come over again! We live in a small town. Word would get around that the Dalportos were penguin smut people.
“Hello?” she answered. “Is everything OK?”
“Hi,” I said. “Um, we’ve got a bit of a situation here …”
I explained that there were some very happy penguins at the aquarium. And that the other kids had kind of, sort of explained EVERYTHING IN GRAPHIC DETAIL to her innocent child. With hand gestures.
“So yeah, basically your daughter just learned all about the birds and the bees at my kid's birthday party … Sorry?” I squeaked.
“Never a dull moment with you Dalportos,” the mom said. And then she laughed. I felt all the panic drain from my body. THANK GOD I pick friends with a sense of humor.
“Look!” my son shouted again. “He’s sleeping!”
When the penguin was done with his business, he slid off of his mate, flapped a wing around her shoulder and promptly fell asleep. All he was missing was a cigarette. “Typical male,” I thought as we walked away from the exhibit.
I caught up to the girl whose purity we, or really the penguins, had just shattered and asked her if she had any questions. I felt terrible. Here I’d taken the kids on an innocent, educational trip to the aquarium and suddenly things had become way more educational than I anticipated.
Those darn penguins. Couldn’t they have gotten a room? And here's the lesson for all you parents of preteens out there. Have The Talk before a penguin has it for you.