The other night while my eight year-old daughter was in the room, a friend of mine mentioned something about a young woman we know who is having a baby. A few years ago, I would have changed the subject, ran away, or starting humming loudly just to avoid being in the same zip code as the topic of where babies come from. But I’ve matured since then. I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is something I am going to have to talk to my kids about. I even bought a book entitled, WHAT’S THE BIG SECRET? and read it with each of my children cover to cover. The book explained everything in just enough detail to be informative, but not enough to raise more questions. It was a good script and left no room for awkward answers or embarrassing personal questions. My kids felt satisfied and I felt like one of those rock-star moms who are laid-back and comfortable with even the most thorny of topics. I felt as if I had done my job. Well played, me. Well-played.
So when the topic of babies came up the other night, I was not worried. I assumed my daughter remembered what the Big Secret was from the book and was cool with it. Apparently I was wrong.
Daughter: Mom, how does the baby get in the mommy’s belly?
My friend sprinted away so fast leaving only a puff of white smoke where she had been seconds earlier. I took a deep breath.
Me: Well, honey… remember from the book? Babies are made from Mommy parts and Daddy parts… and when they come together they make a baby.
Daughter: Yeah, I know. But how do the parts come together?
Me: Isn’t it time to brush your teeth?
Daughter: Yeah, but tell me first.
Me: Um. Well, honey…
Daughter: Do you not know, Mommy?
Me: No – I mean, yes. I do know. It’s just complicated.
Daughter: How can it be complicated? Everyone has babies.
I knew there was no getting out of it at that point. I told her to go brush her teeth and we would meet back in my room in five. Obviously, I went to find the book. Except now the Big Secret was where the hell had I put it? A frantic scan of the 74 bookshelves in our house turned up nothing. It was like the book was mocking me, “I’ll teach you to leave me lying around.” After several minutes, my time was up. I had to go in alone. Without a script.
So we snuggled into my bed and I explained to her, in three sentences or less, exactly how babies are made. I tried to be at once relaxed and scientific, like a TV anchorwoman. I used all the anatomically correct names and got through it without laughing or being a smart ass. All things considered, I thought I did a bang-up job. Until the Question & Answer portion of the evening began:
Daughter: Ew. That’s disgusting. Are you sure that’s what you do?
Daughter: Ew. Does everyone have to do that if they want a baby?
Me: Yes –for the most part.
Daughter: Ew. How long do you have to do that for?
Me: It kind of depends.
Daughter: Ew. On what?
Me: [Smart-ass answer internally deleted] Various factors.
Daughter: Ew. How long did you and Daddy have to do that to get me?
Me: I don’t remember.
Daughter: Ew. Did you hate it?
Daughter: Ew. Did Daddy hate it?
Daughter: Ew. How does the Daddy part get in there. Does it just go like this? (Then she raised her arm up from her side with the simultaneous sound effect, ‘Zooooooooooooooooop!’)
Me: Yes. Yes, it does.
Daughter: Ew. Do you wear clothes?
Things went on like this for a while. And after much giggling, turning red, and several more Ew’s (only some of which came from her), I finally answered all of her questions. When we finished, she had only one final comment on the subject:
“That is DISGUSTING. I’m never, ever, ever doing sex!”
And once again, I felt as if I had done my job. Well-played, me. Well-played.