When my daughter and I embarked on a summer road trip, just the two of us, I was excited to have some quality time with my girl who loves shopping, One Direction and the fact that she’s almost a teenager.
We had an uneventful journey and were a few hours from home when I decided I needed a break from the Pitch Perfect 2 soundtrack on repeat. I asked if she’d mind switching to radio so we could see what was going on in our current location, the middle-of-nowhere Indiana. She agreed. She flipped through a few channels and stopped on one that soon cut to entertainment news. The lead story was the news that Louis Tomlinson, a 23 year-old member of One Direction, was going to be a father.
“What? But he’s not even dating anyone!” my daughter exclaimed, her voice full of disbelief and shock and maybe a dash of judgment.
“Honey, we’re in the middle of a wind farm surrounded by corn fields. I see no signs of civilization. We probably don’t have the full story,” I said.
The smartphone was deployed, and it turns out that, yup, that was pretty much the whole story, and nope, Louis was not dating his baby mama, Briana Jungwirth, a stylist from Los Angeles.
“But! But! That’s not okay! They’re not married. He’s so young!” she sputtered. She was pretty worked up, as boy band fans can sometimes be.
“Who does that?” she asked incredulously.
As I sped along the freeway, my mind raced even faster. I was tempted to raise my hand in answer to her question and say, “Actually, I did that.”
My child has never asked about the details of her conception because, well, that would involve thinking about your parents having sex. That’s not a thought ourprogeny wish to have at any age, but I think it is especially disturbing to tweens.
The truth is she was conceived when her father and I were engaged, before we were married. It happened when I was 24, a whopping one year older than Louis. It just never seemed like a great time to say, “Just so you know, sweetie, you were technically conceived out of wedlock. We were engaged, had a shotgun wedding, had you and as you know, we’ve been divorced for seven years now.”
We’ve discussed the birds and the bees and sex, but I’ve not shared much about my personal experience with the latter. I’ve always said that I’m happy to answer any questions, but she has not asked, and I haven’t volunteered, either.
I suspect that dealing with your parents’ divorce probably takes up enough mental and emotional energy that she hasn’t wondered much about what came before that. I figure that someday she’ll do the math on her conception, but I don’t think she has yet. I decided it wasn’t the right moment for me to do it for her. Instead, I went the probably not-stellar route of answering a question with a question.
“Why do you think it’s so important to be dating or married to have a baby? Have I said something to give you that impression?” I asked.
She shook her head no. “It’s just that, I don’t know, babies should come from love, and it seems like if you aren’t even dating that can’t be really in love.”
“We have no idea what’s really going on in someone’s relationship. That’s a hard thing to know even if you see people face to face, let alone from an entertainment report. I’m sure they’ll work it all out. They are adults. Why does this upset you so much?” I asked
She became flustered again and started to turn red. As we drove past the slowly spinning wind turbines, I worried what her answer would be and what she will think of me when she learns about the sequence of events that led to her existence.
She finally got it out, “I’m upset because this could mean the band will break up. Who could do that to me? I need One Direction!”
Silly me! This was all about the band and her. I should have known that the tween would somehow bring it back to the perceived impact on her life.
“Oh no, don’t worry about that!” I reassured her, feeling relieved.
A month later, the band announced they will be taking a hiatus. Oops. I’ll wait until she’s recovered before talking to her about everything else. It may be a few years.