Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The birds and the...?

Sam...a few days old

Jonah is 6 1/2. I've been wondering for a while when the most appropriate time is to have "the talk" with him.

You know what I mean. THAT talk.

He attends public school now and I can only imagine the things he's going to start hearing (and repeating) from other students with older siblings. I struggle with wanting him to be accurately informed but also wanting to shelter the daylights out of him. Because he's so inquisitive, I'm anticipating that a simple "how-to" will elicit a barrage of questions that I may not be prepared to answer. But questions are good, right? Information is good. I'll keep telling myself that: Information is good...its really, really is.

When it comes to body parts and private areas and what-is and is-not appropriate or safe, we are extremely straight forward and keep an open dialogue. What we haven't done is take the next step and talk about what those body parts do. I still remember having that conversation with my mother at a similar age. It doesn't take much to recall the wave of nausea I felt after she opened up the trusty book, "A Woman's Body." But the diagrams were helpful. Only I don't have any diagrams for boys. What will I do without a diagram??? (Thank goodness Barnes and Noble has an online store!)

Every time Jonah starts asking questions that could possibly head in that direction, I start to panic -- a mild panic. Having had two children myself, I'm pretty confident in my ability to accurately describe where babies come from, but when it comes to the other stuff...well, just count me out. I'm a female with female parts and female problems. And that is all I know. Period. (no pun intended) If that conversation is not a job for the Dad, I don't know what is. My fear is that the one conversation will automatically lead to the other, and for that, I will obviously need reinforcements.

Today at lunch we were discussing the generational steps that make up a son, grandson, great-grandson, etc., when Jonah asked, "Mom? Why don't I have a sister?"

"Because Sam was a boy."

"Why didn't you have a girl?"

"Because I had two sons. You don't get to pick what kind of baby you're going to have."

"Why can't you just make a girl?"

"Because that's not the way it works."

"Why not? How does it work?"

[SILENCE...beads of sweat forming on my forehead...]

Maybe if I look very intent on making this peanut butter sandwich, he'll think I didn't hear his question and resume his incessant chatter about Pokemon. Just don't.make.eye contact.

Wait a second -- This conversation doesn't have to go that direction! On a deeper level, he's asking about gender determination! Mitosis! Nucleic acid! Cellular...stuff! AND I'M MARRIED TO A GENETIC SCIENTIST!!! I can be exempt from pursuing this discussion!

"You know what, buddy? That's a very good question. And since its one that involves DNA, why don't we wait for Dad to get home? He can explain it so much better than I can."

"Okay, Mom. No problem." [enter Pokemon-speak]

Yes, my child knows what DNA is...and yes, I should be ashamed of myself for using Tyler as an out. But I'm not. Besides -- he's six. He's got the attention span of a hummingbird.

I'm sure we will revisit this issue in another day or so when he remembers we never did talk to Dad. And maybe then I'll be ready.

Or maybe not...


  1. LOL oh gosh, i'm not looking forward to this. on the other hand, my boys are still convinced i, too, have a penis, no matter how many times i insist i have a vagina. and i only stuttered a little bit when henry finally asked me what a vagina looked like.

  2. I say let the dad explain the things that pertain to being a male. As for age, Mormons feel that a person is accountable starting at age 8, so why not then? If questions occur before then, they should be answered openly and honestly, though to what level and depth should be determined by you and your husband. If a child senses that you are uncomfortable with the subject matter, then they will think there is something wrong/bad/inappropriate, which is not the case. It is a sensitive subject because it is such a personal part of who we are individually.

  3. And see, I think 8 is too late to be finding out about this stuff. I'm acutely aware of how much information comes from peers, and I want to be sure the information he's getting is the *right* information -- not some skewed Hollywood version of sex or sexuality. I think at this point in a child's life, the dialogue should be open, but somewhat clinical. There's plenty of time to get into the emotion behind it later. My problem is that in my eyes, he's still the little baby that gave me my first stretch mark (TMI?). I look around at what the world has to offer these days and I want to get all mama-bear on him and keep him safe and innocent forever and ever. Of course that goes against my ultimate role as a parent, but its still the desire of heart. He's very young, very immature for his age. Smart as a whip, but young. And I wish he'd stay that way forever. Both of them.

    But yes, it should be Tyler that gets into male specifics. I'll probably have my ear up against the door just to make sure he's getting all the info I think he needs to be happy, confident, and appropriately informed...

  4. Haha, I remember the first time I heard anything about that sort of thing. I was about Jonah's age and my friend told me that to make a baby the Mom and Dad had to get in bed together....... NAKED!!! I honestly did not believe her. I didn't have any other idea on how that all happened, I just knew there was no way it could be true! I don't remember ever wondering or asking any questions before or after that.

  5. You should pick up the book called "Where Do Babies Come From" it is written by Brad Wilcox and it is a great book that you could read with him... and it has some Q&A's in the back for parents...I bought it when Caitlin was 3 to keep on hand for whenever "those" questions start to come up. Good luck! I would rather have my girls hear all this from me and not from kids at school.