Ever notice how kids always ask super complicated questions at the worst possible times? You’d think their burning desire for information would show up when everyone’s feeling calm and collected, like after a bedtime story or while you’re working together on a puzzle that still has (most) of its pieces.
At my house, big, important topics are usually brought up like this:
“Abby, hurry up, we’re running late! Get your boots on! Sh*t, where are your boots?!”
“Oh, the left one is here under the couch, but where’s—”
“What happens when someone dies? Where do they go? Will you die? Will I die?”
Now, I try to be pretty open and frank with my kids. Much to my husband’s chagrin, they call their parts what they’re actually called (the vulva’s on the outside and the vagina’s on the inside, thank you very much), and sadly, we’ve already dealt with the death of a loved one. But I gotta admit, I was not really prepared for the whole birds and the bees conversation to come up just yet.
Birds and the Bees Gone Wrong
I had a dim idea of what not to do. Lessons I’ve learned through friends’ experiences, as well as my own. When a buddy of mine asked his father (who is a doctor) if a penis was just for peeing when he was six and was told “yes” for example. A friend from university believed for years that her mother found her at the dump, sitting in a trash can “with a banana peel on top like a hat.” That also seemed like a no.
But nothing could compare to what I believe was the most awkward sex talk that has ever happened: the one my dad gave me when I was nine.
My father was the seventh of eight kids who grew up in a pretty Catholic household. He was the rebellious, difficult one. My grandparents tried their best, but it wasn’t easy for him. As a teenager, he spent a lot of time in the room he shared with two of his brothers, listening to classic rock records with his headphones turned up full blast. Sulking. As you do. I believe it was then that my dad got to thinking. He was going to do things differently and really connect to his kids. And then he had a brilliant idea: Why not teach children life lessons through the magic of popular music?
Fast forward a few decades. My dad sits me down in the living room and pulls out a record. It’s Faith, by George Michael. He tells me we need to talk about something important. And proceeds to play me I Want Your Sex. Let’s just let that sink in for a second … My dad thought it would be a good idea to use George Michael’s raunchy ode to sexual liberation as a teaching tool. That’s not even the worst part. During the bridge, he gave me a meaningful look as if to say, “Now, pay attention, kid. This is very important,” just as George wailed, “Sex is natural, sex is fun. Sex is best when it’s ONE-ON-ONE.” Needless to say, I was scarred for life.
Makes that old stork story sound pretty good, doesn’t it?
So, last week, when I was trying to get the kids to hurry up and finish their breakfast so they could get dressed and get to daycare on time for once, Abby hit me with this:
“Mummy? How did Daddy give you his ‘perm?” (She has trouble with “s” sounds so I was momentarily confused.)
“I know you had an egg and he gave you a ‘perm. But how did he give it to you?”
Here was my moment. My chance to rise to the occasion. About five or six years earlier than I’d anticipated, but still … I could right all the past birds and the bees talks wrong. And all I could come up with was:
“Uh, with his penis. EAT YOUR CEREAL!”
I guess there’s always next time.