I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was a beautiful day and the kids and I were headed to a park by the lake. We were on a really curvy road when the birds and bees question first reared its ugly head. “Mommy, how are babies made?”
The question came from my 7 year old daughter. I almost drove the car off the road in shock. I stammered uncomfortably as I thought about how to answer her. I thought back to my childhood and I’m pretty sure I first learned about sex from my best friends in 3rd grade. I don’t remember my parents giving me any type of birds and bees talk. I was the 4th child, though, so maybe they were tired of “the talk” by the time I came around.
Anyway, as luck would have it, my husband wasn’t with us in the car the day of THE QUESTION. I was flying solo on answering this one, like it or not. I was afraid that whatever I said could possibly define and/or ruin her entire sexual life. Not only hers, but I had the opportunity to ruin her brothers’ future sexual lives at the same time! Awesome– I had the ability to ruin all of their lives in one fell swoop!
So, in a matter of seconds, my thought process went like this:
Where do I even start to answer this question? Just brainstorm, momma. You got this. Crap, I don’t know if I can do this.
Do I talk about romance or keep it totally functional? Leave romance out of it for now. But if I leave it totally functional, then they’ll think that all men just stick it in there and make babies. Sheesh. This is harder than I thought. I can’t possibly bring up foreplay, though. Or sex for pleasure. Good god. Why did I become a parent again? I am not trained for questions like this.
Do I use medical terminology like “vagina” and “penis” or use words like “weiner” and “vajayjay”? Nope, I’m not going to call it a “vajayjay” today. I’ll be real and honest. I think.
If I talk about little “fish” in the sperm, I know my son will freak out thinking he’s got fish coming out of his penis. Don’t talk about fish. Leave fish out of it. Maybe.
Do I bring up menstruation? Won’t that freak her the f@#$ out? It still freaks me out and I’m a quarter of a century into menstruation. Don’t talk about it. No need to know about tampons and pads just yet. EGAD. Crap, aren’t girls starting their periods earlier these days because of hormones in meats? Oh god, we’re eating all organic starting today. I can’t deal with a girl on her period in elementary school.
If I talk about eggs, will she think that she lays eggs like a hen?
Maybe I’ll just search YouTube on my phone for a birds and the bees video?
Can I use a Lifeline here? Who would my Lifeline be? Can we pull over and FaceTime Daddy?
It’s amazing that I didn’t veer off the road in those few moments of sex talk brainstorming. I swore that I wouldn’t be uncomfortable about THE TALK when it was time for it, but these kids caught me completely off guard. I wasn’t expecting any questions for at least a few years. I was sort of hoping they’d never ask me about it and then I’d never have to tell them. Then I’d send them away to the convent. Problem solved.
But since they DID ask me, and I don’t think the convent will accept them, I answered the question. I’m pretty sure I mumbled something like this:
Love. Marriage. Love. Love. Woman. Egg. Man. Penis. Penis. Vagina. Then baby comes. Ta-da!
Then there were crickets. I was gripping the steering wheel so hard that my knuckles were white. I was afraid to look in the rearview mirror. My heart was pounding. There was more silence.
Oh crap, what have I done? Do I need to start putting money away for their therapy bills? Do I apologize and start laughing and tell them it’s all a big joke? I’m kidding, kiddos! It’s all about the storks!
I sighed and was about to stammer uncomfortably some more when my middle son (who is 6) chimed in with another question. I honestly didn’t think it could get much more uncomfortable. “Mommy, how does the baby get OUT?”
Oh good Lord, child. Why do you have to be so curious? Really? THE QUESTION wasn’t enough for today? You had to wonder how the baby gets OUT?!?
I just gave up on being appropriate at this point and blurted out, “Babies come out of their mommy’s vaginas.” And that’s when my daughter screamed loudly. And my son laughed in a really terrified way. Thankfully the three year old was totally oblivious about understanding anything. He just kept repeating “Penis! Penis! Penis!”
I hesitantly looked in the rearview mirror and saw my daughter with her eyes as big as Texas and my 6 year old son looking at her with complete horror in his eyes. He said to her, “I’m so sorry that you’re going to have a baby grow in your belly and it’s going to come OUT OF YOUR VAGINA!” My daughter cried and said, “I don’t want to be a girl anymore, Mommy!”
Well, that went well. I think I may go ahead and tell them the truth about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy while I’m at it.
After what felt like the longest drive ever, we finally got to the park. I was ready to answer any questions they had and make sure they weren’t totally scarred for life when my daughter asked, “Mommy,”
Holy crap, what’s coming now? I can’t handle another question.
“Mommy, can I have some Pirate’s Booty?”
Oh thank god. Your sweet little mind has already forgotten about the sex talk that wrapped up less than 10 seconds ago.
Strangely, I think the conversation was more difficult for me than it was them. They haven’t brought it up a single time since then and neither have I. While I wouldn’t suggest this method of telling kids about babies, I don’t think I’ve scarred them for life. Yet.
What I am going to do, however, is better prepare myself for the next set of difficult conversations. Like Santa Claus.