This is what you get when you ignore your three young children at the library: a delightful book, selected by your 2-year-old, entitled, “Amazing You!: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts.”

 

This windfall results from allowing your kids to roam freely through the children’s section, rooting among the shelves, littering the tables and floor with books and fondling the library’s computer keyboard—your 2-year-old may have even licked it—while you try to sort out how to download the Facebook app to your BlackBerry.

 

Because you are doing this from a mobile device your Facebook page does not recognize, you find yourself mired in an identity verification process that involves correctly naming “friends” presented to you in pictures. The problem is that you haven’t seen many of these “friends” in more than 20 years and certainly don’t recognize their children. You squander your two free “skips” and fail the test, at which point Facebook informs you that it has temporarily “locked” your page.

 

While you appreciate the social media website’s vigilance, you cannot help but experience a thrill of irritation that swiftly turns to panic. You fret that your 485 “friends” will now be unable to view the adorable pictures of your own children, who you are still ignoring in the library, swatting away their questions with your hand as you would mosquitos. What’s worse, you realize in your distracted alarm, is that Facebook might be preventing your loyal followers from accessing links to your blog.

 

In the moment, this social media crisis seems far graver that the actual occupation of parenting. And in your eagerness to resolve your online impasse on your laptop at home, you tumble your kids’ book selections into the bag without checking them first and scurry everyone out of the library and into the minivan.

 

Later that evening you allow each of your children to carry one of their library books to a restaurant. And you congratulate yourself on your foresight as your 6-year-old son plunks his “NASCAR Encyclopedia” on the table, his twin sister quietly peruses “Cara the Camp Fairy,” and your husband offers to read aloud from your 2-year-old’s volume. However, you find yourself sputtering out a gulp of Smithwick’s upon hearing the following: “Inside the sac under your penis are soft balls called testicles.” And, “It’s perfectly natural to be curious about your private parts and to want to touch them. But this is something you should do only in a private place, like your room.”

 

In fact, you suddenly realize that this book is probably something also best unveiled only in a very private place—like nowhere near this public eatery—especially since pictures like the following accompany the text:

 “What is this,” your husband demands, a look of horror gracing his visage.

“Jane picked it out,” your older daughter says.

“Yes,” Jane confirms. “Read it.”

 

You do not want to inflict your frigid sensibilities on your children. You have, in fact, already discussed with your son that bit about the balls in the sac. You would like, at least in theory, to help your children grow comfortable with their bodies. But you do not want to pursue that enterprise further here, during cocktail hour on a Saturday at your local pub.

 

So you reach for the offending book that your husband has snapped shut and is now extending toward you with an irritated glare, as your 2-year-old melts onto the table into a very public puddle of wails and tears.

 

And that is what you get for ignoring your children.

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