The facts of life a la the rodent men
Tapper, who was a cheerleading captain in a previous life, is quite the manly man in this one. He's been trying to mate with his step-brother Delmo, who puts up with him because--what else can he do? The cage is only so big. The first time my daughter saw Tapper in action, she thought he was playing. We wondered what we would tell her if she asked.
We live in the Age of Tell Them Everything Even if They're too Young Because Honesty is a Great Cover for Foolishness. I usually prefer ignorance to that kind of honesty. "I have no idea what's going on," has gotten me out of some tight spots with small kids. To wit: "How'd you get a baby in your tummy?" a five-year-old daughter of a friend once asked me. "I have no idea," I said, "but as soon as I got to the bottom if it, I'll let you know." Worked like a charm.
Does an eight-year-old need to know she has a homosexual guinea pig who regularly sexually assaults his step-brother? Do we need to go there?
No, because my daughter went to the library to find out for herself. One afternoon while the Mice Men were playing Cat and Mouse in their rodent play pen, Adella read aloud, "When a male guinea pig senses a female is in season, the male will strut around her and make rumbling sounds. He will mount her back--Mom," she paused for the finale: "Tapper thinks Delmo is a girl. That's silly."
"In season" was still resonating in my ears when she made it over the finish line. Such a nice way to put it. What if adults talked about women that way? That's better than being on the rag, riding the cotton pony, and all the other cruddy lingo that goes with what has become in our culture the hideous, mysterious life process called menstruation.
Furthermore, Tapper is not a freak; he's a boy whose a little confused at this stage of his youth...And, lucky him, he has a patient friend willing to put up with a little abuse now and again. No guilt. No shame. No humiliation. No "that's gross" or "I hate my body."
Hanging with the rodents is not a bad thing.