Naturally I want my kids to know all about their own anatomy and, when the time comes, the things they will be doing with their anatomy in the future. And I should be great at this stuff. I’ve been a teacher, I’ve been a nurse—in a maternity ward, no less—and let’s face it: I’ve been a mother for 25 years. If I’m not an expert, who is?
While in theory I always planned on “having the talk” with my kids—and I always eventually did—I was hardly ever in a rush. So as my children were practically hurtling headlong into puberty, I’d blunder into a conversation with them and try explaining what they, inevitably, already learned about from one of those 8-year-olds on the playground who seem to know everything. Like during one of my pregnancies when one of my children “found out” from a friend about the “seed” I’d gotten from my husband and “swallowed” that was now miraculously growing into a baby “in my stomach.” (“But Mommy, where did Daddy get the seeds from?”) Sigh.
But sixth time’s the charm, right? I’ve been hoping so.
With my youngest child, my sixth, I’ve been planning to do it right. Rather than bring these topics up in an awkward, random way, I’m particularly alert for opportunities to bring up the conversation naturally. No, really. This time it’s different; I’m older, wiser…I will not mess this up.
As there are a few newborn babies and pregnant women in my 5-year-old daughter’s world, I’ve been on hyper-alert, planning out multiple conversation scenarios in my head, just waiting for her signal.
She did not disappoint. As I watched her play with her toys on a Shabbat afternoon, she picked up a baby doll, put it under her shirt, and then “took out” her “newborn baby.” Right away she started talking to me about some of the pregnant people she knows. Were they still pregnant? When would the babies come out? Then she looked at her own tummy and said, “How does the baby even get out? Do they just ‘magic’ it out? There’s no hole in the belly button.”
My moment had arrived! I carefully crafted my response in my head before saying, “Good question, honey! Actually, even though the baby is in the tummy, it doesn’t come out from there. You know how you have two holes to make poop and pee? Well, we actually have another hole, in the vagina, and the baby comes out from there.”
“In the fachina? But Mommy,” she said with that all-knowing 5-year-old look on her face, “it’s too small for a baby to come out!”
“That’s right,” I encouraged, delighted that she was really listening to me. “It usually is. But when a baby is coming out, the vagina gets just big enough for the baby and then goes back to its normal size.”
“Really, Mommy?” she asked as she stared at me in wonder. I watched her digest this fascinating piece of information, her blue eyes shining as she looked into the distance, seeming to marvel at the beauty and wonder of the human body, and, probably, of her mother’s incredible way of explaining such complex functions with skill and ease… Wow I really rocked that explanation, didn’t I? I didn’t even laugh at the word “vagina.” In fact—
“Mommy?” she interrupted my reverie, a thoughtful expression on her face.
“Yes, Sweetheart?” I said, blinking expectantly at her.
“I don’t believe you.”
And just like that, she turned back to her doll and went on playing.
Score: Laura – 0; some yet-unnamed-8-year-old with faulty information – 1.
I guess I still need to work on my game.