Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Dreaded Birds and Bees Talk...

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it...—Cole Porter

Let me start off by saying that when my hubby and I got married, we decided that when we had kids, we would NOT be afraid to talk about sex with them. I decided that if they were old enough to ask the question, they were old enough to get the answer. End of story.

But that was before the kids came along. Then the kids did come along, and I have found that I have modified that philosophy, somewhat. Now I find myself praying that they will hold off on the hard questions for as long as possible. Unfortunately my kids asked the direct questions at VERY early ages, and I felt it was just too early: When you’re older, I’ll tell you, okay? Now go back and play in the sandbox with your Barney shovel.

I mean, I honestly feel that a kid of three or four doesn’t need to know, not yet. (Hey, I’m human. I want to protect my kids’ innocence for as long as I can, right?) I know I can’t put off answering the Big Question for much longer for my nearly 8-year old daughter. Granted, we’ve had several frank discussions, but not THE discussion.

Of course, my daughter got quite a rude blow about two years back. We had some friends staying with us, and they stayed in the guest room. He was studying to be a doctor, and was fond of falling asleep while watching those gross medical channels where they show lovely things like live surgeries, and documentaries about surgeries, and nothing is left to the imagination, as the camera is usually focused right in on the event.

Well, the morning they left, I was cleaning upstairs and my daughter, then five years of age, wandered into their vacated room and turned on the TV, thinking she was going to be getting Nickelodeon (since their “guest room” was normally the kid’s play room and the TV stayed permanently on either Nick or Disney.)
I was in my room cleaning, thinking she was watching Dora the Explorer or Blue’s Clues, (so I wasn’t alarmed that a woman’s screams could be heard coming from the room) when after several minutes I heard sobbing, and ran to the guest room, to find my daughter, bawling her eyes out. I looked at the TV, and to my complete horror, saw that it was a medical channel and they were wiping off a baby that had just been born, and I immediately KNEW that my five-year old child had just witnessed a live birth (and I was willing to bet a hundred million dollars that the camera had been focused directly on the part where the baby CAME OUT). Horrorstruck, I calmly turned off the TV, and went to comfort my daughter, who, after she collected her wits, announced to me that she would NEVER have a baby, EVER.

I felt awful. I mean, I couldn’t even handle watching the birthing videos that were required for my prenatal class. And how can you delicately tell your child about sex using metaphors and florally language when they have been forced to so grittily and realistically view the end result? Sure, to the adult mind, having babies is a beautiful experience, but to a child of five, all she saw was screaming and blood and who knows what else.
We talked about it recently, and luckily she’s seemed to have adopted a very pragmatic attitude about what she saw then. She now knows how babies “come out,” and its “okay” with her. (She still doesn’t know however, how they get in, but soon, I think, she’ll be wondering.)

With my two sons, I’ve been luckier. Thing three jubilantly announced to me yesterday that he knew his sister wasn’t a boy because she doesn’t have a “stick out peepee.” (Shoving my fist almost entirely into my mouth to keep from laughing, I agreed with him and let him go on his merry way.)
So, I haven’t had to have “the talk” with any of my children yet , other than to give them the correct names for the Male and Female genitalia, (which I figured if I did without embarrassment and as much practicality as possible they wouldn’t A) go around being embarrassed about it or B) announcing it to the world, like that little kid in “Kindergarten Cop.”) and so far all is well. But even with all the technical terms I’ve provided them, they still insist on calling their private parts “peepee.” Which is just fine with me.

I think it might be a smart thing now to have a book on hand, so when my daughter and I do sit down to talk about sex I could hand it to her and command her to read, like MY mother did. Thank heaven my mom had the sense to buy a book (the title: You were Smaller Than a Dot for those of you wondering) and be prepared when I started asking the tough questions.

So I’ve decided to go and find a book, because it’s inevitable that she’s going to ask The Question, and probably sooner rather than later. And I don’t want to be the parent who puts it off until she learns about sex from her schoolmates and goes around believing that women can get pregnant by wearing a bikini and sitting in a Jacuzzi. (I’m pulling a myth from my own experience, here.)
So I want to get a book, just to have on hand, when the opportunity presents itself. A book that we can read together.
Hmm, I wonder if my mom still has her copy of You Were Smaller Than a Dot?


Colin said...

What a thing to happen! That must have been an awful moment to find her like that just after watching it.

I totally agree with you, though. I always thought I wold be fine talking about sex. In my dreams!

Laura grows up too fast for me to adjust quickly enough, but at the same time, I don't want to be a Grandad in five years and for her to be another teen-mother statistic looked down upon by everyone else.

There's a thought - if it dod happen - I could be a Grandad before I'm even a biologocial Dad!!

Weird thought :-/

Ann said...

Whew - don't envy you that talk! (I remember a funny line in one of Erma Bombeck's books, where a teenager was talking about the "birds and bees" talk - "My dad got so nervous he had a hummingbird making time with a bumblebee.")

Gel said...

Good luck! Our daughters are teens now. We had a different philosophy than you, in that we talked casually since birth to our kids, like about the names of body parts. However, we did not feed them info before we felt they could absorb it.

Often, we scaled down the amount of info depending on their age. Then the next yr or two the same question was asked, but each daughter was ready for more info... (they are close in age.) Whew. It still mostly all falls to me, although my husband is loving and comfortable with such topics between us. It's not because they are girls. It's because he grew up in a repressed type of environment and I grew up in the open, medical, we can talk about anything atmosphere.

We still encountered tough "mandatory" talks and my husband truly became "Mr. Escape Artist", one way I identify him affectionately on my blog, since I'm an artist and another.

Another way is by "hubba hubba" but my blog is PG 13, unless one reads between the lines. It's for humor. Lots of the questions from your children will be humorous, too. We're still zapped!