“Mama, do boys have babies?”

Last weekend, I took the kids to our favorite Chinese restaurant for lunch.

And somehow, as we ate, the topic of babies came up.

Tootie asked all sorts of the usual questions, her fascination very much in evidence.

The E-man, on the other hand, took on the appearance of a brooding, little thundercloud.

“Mama,” he interrupted, “do boys have babies?”

His expression registered great horror at the prospect.

“No, sweetie,” I replied. “Boys don’t actually have the babies. Girls are the ones who keep the babies in their tummies until they’re ready to be born.”

“So do I have to have a baby?” the E-man pressed.

“Well, only if you want one.”

“But I don’t WANT a baby in my tummy!”

“Only girls can have the babies,” I tried to clarify. “When you grow up, you might be a daddy, but your wife would be the one who had the baby.”

“Do I have to have a wife to have a baby?” the E-man inquired.

“Uh …”

At which point, I noticed the man seated at the table nearest us. He had collapsed into laughter.

“Please,” he sputtered. “Go on. I can’t wait to hear the answer.”

Somehow, I hemmed and hawed through the rest of the conversation, walking a very thin line all the while.

A few days later, while looking at their newborn photos, the children asked about the differences in how they were born. (Tootie was an emergency C-section; the E-man was a vaginal birth.)

Again, Tootie was absolutely enthralled by the subject. The E-man, on the other hand, looked quite ill.

So I wasn’t terribly surprised when, an hour or so later, the E-man ran into the living room with Tootie in hot pursuit. He wore a look of panic. She clutched two dolls and a syringe from her toy doctor’s kit.

“Tootie wants to cut my tummy open!” the E-man declared breathlessly.

Tootie looked offended.

“I’m just getting the baby out,” she explained.

And it was then I realized why God decided that women would be the ones to bear children. Men, obviously, just don’t share our fortitude, even when they’re young.

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