By Leah McLaren
It was conversation I’d been dreading for months. My two and a half-year-old, the adorably named Freddy, came home from origami class the other day and said, “Yo, mamacita”—that’s how he’s taken to addressing all the hot young mothers in the neighbourhood of late, his own included, and I certainly don’t want to stifle his interest in foreign languages—“what’s a Persian perv?”
Now, my husband and I have always built our parenting on the fundamental notion that if I child is old enough to ask a serious, thoughtful question, then they’re old enough to get a serious, thoughtful answer. It’s a lot of work sometimes, it demands a certain maturity and more than a little courage on occasion, but we feel it’s the right thing to do, as do many of the hundreds of parenting books I’ve read since I discovered motherhood.
So I sat Freddy down with a bowl of organic kale chips and a glass of kombucha and explained to him that perv was simply short for pervert, and that led to a PowerPoint presentation I’d already prepared on the continuum of human desire, and how certain individuals’ sexual proclivities can sometimes transgress what is considered legally or morally acceptable in a certain culture at a certain point in time. Freddy looked completely bored. “Yeah, yeah,” he said, “we get the Sun at pre-school, but what’s a Persian?”
Now that led to another presentation on Middle Eastern history, the sexism at the heart of Omar Khayam’s poetic oeuvre, the atrocities committed by SAVAK, the Iran-Contra affair and the differences between Khomeini and Khamenei.
Seemingly satisfied, Freddy went and had a poop behind the piano.
All I can say is thank goddess he didn’t ask about his “Uncle” Jian. After all, Jian’s the reason why we had to take Freddy’s beloved teddy bear away. Responsible parents don’t take chances, although, it’s just occurred to me, that might be the reason Freddy is pooping behind the piano. I must remember to do a poop+teddy bear Google search if I ever get a damn minute to myself.
Full disclosure: Jian Ghomeshi has been trying to get into my lululemons since before lululemons were even invented. Back in 1999, the year made famous by Prince in his classic 1999 with, under the circumstances, its deliciously ironic, “(Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you/I only want you to have some fun),” I devoted one of my precocious and popular columns in Canada’s most respected newspaper, the Globe and Mail, to Jian’s terminally geeky band Moxy Früvous. We were just two crazy kids in those days (although Jian was and remains a good decade older than me), just beginning our meteoric rise to the Canadian cultural firmament.
He’s been absolutely, hopelessly smitten with me, ever since.
I, on the other hand, found Jian to be one weedy dude, tediously self-absorbed, desperately needy and prone to winking, a greasy, squirm-inducing manipulator with an off-putting sexual vibe, and not nearly tall enough even to be seen in my lengthy line of suitors. Naturally, we became very close friends.
As young celebrities, exemplars of our respective generations, we intuitively understood each other and the price one pays for the crime of attaining fame in a tall-poppy averse culture. That was our bond. And, over the years, it’s become a friendship I’ve managed to parlay into this instantly trending piece of tattle.
But, no matter what you’ve heard, I absolutely, unequivocally deny that I ever—I repeat, ever, ever —let that creep touch me, either gently and respectfully, as I’m teaching my son Freddy to do with his anatomically correct dolls, or with the Vulcan death grip Jian apparently preferred. Ick!