“How do babies get into their mother’s tummy?”
“Ask your father.”
This exact conversation has been going on since Caleb was 5. And I still refuse to have “the talk” with him.
I know. I’m a terrible, horrible parent. And it’s not that I’m a prude, but… Fine. I’m a complete and total prude. Not too much of a prude, obviously (4 kids in 4 years and all that),but let’s just say I don’t feel comfortable hearing about the ins and outs of your sex life and I’d rather keep the ins and outs of mine to myself, thank you very much. No pun intended.
Last week, we introduced Caleb to a guy in his mid-thirties who has a newborn baby at home. His first child.
“See Caleb,” we said, “we had you when we were really young. Some people our age are just starting to have babies!”
"Wait,” said Caleb. “You get to choose when you have a baby? What do you do, just say, I’m ready to have a baby and one just starts growing in your stomach?”
“Yes. Yes, that’s exactly how it happens,” I said.
I realize how wrong I am to do this. Yet I can’t seem to help myself. Case in point: I’ve never told Ella the proper name for her girl parts, so she refers to that area as her penis. Can you imagine how awkward it is for me in the little girls room with a four-year old who’s asking me to help wipe her penis?
Some parents choose to give their kids private parts silly names, like “pee-pee” or “pooter” or “woo-woo.” Others insist on using proper scientific nomenclature. I could never decide, so I opted out of calling Ella’s anything. And now I’m paying for it in a big way.
John’s no better. I told him it was time to have “the talk” with Caleb.
“No,” he said. Just no. End of discussion.
He is a horrible, terrible parent.
We have to have the talk soon, however, because any day now he could hear all sorts of weird, misinformation on the big yellow school bus, or, as I call it, the den of iniquities.
"Mom. I heard that boys need to stick their penises in a girl's belly button and a tiny baby shoots out and gets planted in her stomach. Is that true?"
(I may or may not have heard that in the den of iniquities when I was in elementary school.)
I imagine that having “the talk” is like jumping into a chilly swimming pool. It’s so hard to make that initial jump, but after you do it, you’re fine with swimming around for a bit. In other words, relaying the nuts and bolts of sex (no pun intended) seems terrifying. But after I take that jump, I can see myself having healthy, normal conversations about sex and relationships and all that stuff with Caleb. I just don’t want to take that initial jump. I really don’t. Especially when I read things like this was so-called professionals:
Dr. Berman says making them feel good about themselves is key. "Feeling good about their bodies. Feeling good about their genitals. Feeling good about their sexual function. Feeling empowered about who they are as people and as sexual beings. And then that makes the path so much easier when they're in their teen years."Feeling good about their genitals? I’m suspicious of her whole thesis, here. I get where she’s coming from, but dear God. As if relaying the ins and outs (no pun intended) wasn’t hard enough, you want me to help my kids feel good about their genitals? I can’t even say genitals. I can type it, but just barely.
And if, in this poorly conceived analogy, my standing at the edge of a diving board for a good 20 minutes is akin to finding the nerve to explain the birds and the bees, when the day comes I’m going to stand looking dumbly at Caleb for a good twenty minutes before I sputter something like, “When two people have sex, here’s what happens (insert what happens here. No pun intended.) Having a baby is a decision not to be taken lightly you need to know that there are ramifications to actions and that you should never have sex until you’re at least 30 and you should be married and you might have something called wet dreams and that’s okay and talk to your father about the rest. Glad we had this talk.” And then I’ll catch my breath and resume treading water. Because raising kids is exactly that: treading water for the rest of your life, hoping you don’t get too tired.
I really don't want to do this! (The sex talk part, not the raising kids part. Also, I lied. All puns were intended.)