By Anita Doberman: CNJ Columnist
Children ask all sorts of embarrassing questions and sometimes put us on the spot.
This weekend, I had a lot of explaining to do when we visited New Orleans. I went with my five children and my teenage babysitter — naturally hubby still deployed. We thought that it would be fun to see the French Quarter and take a walk on the famous Bourbon Street. Just to make sure, I asked the concierge at our hotel, if it would be appropriate to walk there with young children. She told me it would be fun, and that she takes her own children all the time.
Unfortunately, my definition and this woman’s definition of what is appropriate for children didn’t coincide. I had no idea that certain parts of Bourbon Street could be so … explicit and we passed several gentlemen’s clubs with graphic advertisements.
I was hoping my children wouldn’t notice the giant pictures of naked women plastered on the windows of these establishments, alluding to certain acts, to put it mildly. But of course, almost immediately, my oldest daughter loudly asked me why a woman was showing her breasts.
In a futile attempt, I tried to cover my other kids’ eyes, but they had already seen some of the pictures and started to also ask lots of questions.
I told them that those were inappropriate images, and that we really don’t like to look at them — they are not pretty or good for us. Fortunately, there was a mime a few feet from us and the kids became instantly enthralled by him. Only my 7-year-old kept pressing me on the issue. “Why do people want to take and see these pictures?” “Who are the girls? What’s inside that place?”
I struggled with answering her questions, but finally told her that just like we are capable of great works of art and music, which is something that we heard and enjoyed in New Orleans, we are also capable of doing things that are negative and not good for us, like the pictures we saw. It’s best to let that go, and focus on the beautiful things that we can create and see around us. She seemed satisfied.
We walked back to the hotel fairly quickly, and later opted to go to the children’s museum, where my daughter painted a picture of the street we visited with the mime. She suggested we give it to the strange place with the bad pictures, so that they could look at something pretty.
I have to admit her words were music to my ears.
I know other issues will be much harder, especially as the kids hit the teenage years. But it was so nice to hear my daughter’s innocence. I hope I will be able to come up with good answers in the future. Not that I worry about lack of opportunities, with six children and a military husband who is always deployed, I will have many chances to practice.
Anita Doberman is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot stationed at Hurlburt AFB in Florida. Contact her at: