Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Birds & the Bees

Recently my son asked me, "Did you do a mating dance when you met daddy?"

"No, but your father did."

Apparently my attempts to have Animal Planet educate my son about the birds and the bees is more complicated than I initially realized. It's cowardly of me to approach reproduction this way with my son, but I'm still traumatized over the discussion I had with his sister years ago.

It was a day like any other. She was probably around 6 years old. She looked up from her chicken nuggets and asked, "So, Mom, how does the baby get in there?

"What?" I ask. This is my 'go to' response when my children ask any variety of questions. "Can I have a slumber party?" "Can I have glitter?" "Why are your legs prickly?"

I fake hearing loss in a vain attempt to avoid answering the question. "What?" buys me valuable time to think while my child re-asks the seemingly innocent question.
"How does the baby get in the mommy?"

"Well, when two people love each other they get married. When they are married, they have a baby." I've been giving her that answer since she was 4. Of course, 6 year olds are much smarter than 4 year olds. Yes, my answer is overly simplified and full of stereotypes, but it's consistent with my childhood upbringing. "Jenny and Chris sitting in a tree, k - i -s- s- i -n -g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Jenny with a baby carriage!"

I'm pulled from my memories of the sing-song rhyme by my six year old's dogged determination to get to the bottom of this mystery. "But how does the baby get in there?"

I repeat my standard response, and I can tell my child is beginning to see that her mother is not as bright as she once thought. She begins talking vveeeerrrrrrryyyyy slllllooooowwwwlllllyyyy because she can tell I'm having a hard time understanding her.
"Mom, I knoooooow that. But how does the baby get in the mommy's belly?"

"When two people love each other, it's like growing a tree. The man plants a seed in the woman and a baby grows." Why I've resorted to comparing sex to tree farming, I'm not exactly sure. I blame my own mother for that one. She, too, told me I started off as a seed. I always worried when I accidentally ate any sort of seed that I would mange to grow a tiny person in my belly and wouldn't that be hard to explain to my kindergarten friends! Plus, how in the world would the tiny person be able to crawl out of my bellybutton? Certainly that is the exit door, but it's just so tiny. Or worse, what if I actually grew an apple tree in my belly? That would certainly be both painful and embarrassing! Did I mention I was a remarkably naive and stupid child?

My daughter continues to chew on her nugget while looking expectantly at me. I should add here that, for reasons I don't completely understand, I am now sweating and looking for the best way to exit the dining room. Did I leave the oven on? Is someone at the door? I think the phone is about to ring. Damn telemarketers can't call when you need them!

"But, mommy, how does the seed get in there?" Ohhhhh, she is a persistent and inquisitive child!

At this point, I am reminded of the Verizon commercial with the man who has 100 people behind him. "Can you hear me know?" I think what a benefit this could be to parenting. I wish I had a panel of moms behind me who I could turn to and ask, "What's the best way to answer this question?" Of course, I bet half of them would just look at me cross-eyed and ask, "What?"

As I look into my daughter's beautiful eyes an answer forms on my lips. Before I can respond, she sweetly asks, "Does the woman swallow it?"

With that, I tell her in detail how babies are made. When I finish, I cannot miss the disgusted look on her face and she emphatically declares, "I am NEVER doing that!"
I, of course, tell her she never has to do that.

So yes, son, your father and I did do a mating dance. If you need specifics feel free to ask your dad about it. If he responds with "What?" please go ask your sister.

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