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Telling My 5-Year-Old the Truth About Where Babies Come From

Seamless pattern with feminine hygiene products. Sanitary pads, tampons, menstrual cups, panties. Vector background.

Generally speaking, I do not shy away from “tough” conversations with my girls. I think about how I learned about sex (in the fifth grade on the recess playground) and I cringe at my children having the same confusing experience. Instead of skirting the issue, dodging questions, lying, or just saying “I don’t know,” I engage in tough conversations with my children, because it feels like the right thing to do.

My honest dialogue will prepare them for the day someone grins at them with a salacious new piece of information to share as the latest gossip. Some kids learn about sex from an older friend, sibling, or by unknowingly stumbling upon a hidden stash of Playboys. I would rather my children feel like sex is old news when it enters their class rumor mill.

My three young daughters are no stranger to tampons. They know I bleed from my vagina every month when there isn’t a baby in my womb. They know I put tampons in my vagina to keep the blood from spilling out onto my underwear.

Truthfully, I benefit from this the most, because when I’m stranded in the downstairs powder room, they are more than happy to run upstairs to my bathroom and fetch me a tampon.

Over this Labor Day holiday weekend, my oldest pressed on with her thoughtful inquisitiveness.

Five-year-old: How does the sperm get to the egg?

Mama: It goes from the daddy to the mommy. The daddy has the sperm and the mommy has the egg.

Five-year-old: But how does it get there?

<<deep breath>>

Mama: The sperm comes out of the daddy’s penis the way pee-pee comes out.

Five-year-old: But how does it get to the mama’s egg?

Mama thinking ‘”OK here we go”: You know how I put tampons in my vagina? The daddy puts his penis in the mama’s vagina to get the sperm to the egg in her womb.

I see my oldest daughter’s eyebrows rise in surprise and the wheels are turning in her heard. She’s putting the pieces together. In a previous “tough conversation,” I told my daughter she came out of me when I pushed her out of my vagina. Her response, “But your vagina is too small! A baby wouldn’t fit!” I told her mamas’ vaginas get bigger for the baby to come out.

Now one of my 3-year-old twins asked how the egg comes out of the mama, and my 5-year-old answered for me.

Five-year-old: “The egg doesn’t come out. The baby grows in the mama and comes out later. That’s how we came out of mama, and that’s why the daddy puts the sperm in the mama.”

And with this, it felt like I had won a round of Jeopardy Tournament of Champions: “What is Sex for 500, Alex?”

In the same breath, I was simultaneously impressed and relieved that the line of questioning is over (for now). Then I realized I had failed to mention this act is called intercourse or sex. No worries, I am certain the question of what this is called will come up soon enough.

I’ll hear “Mama, what is sex?” and I’ll say, “It’s when the daddy puts his penis in the mama to get the sperm to the egg.” Mic drop.

I am glad I have taken the tactic of being honest and sticking with the facts (as much as they can understand). These conversations build upon themselves, and it actually made “sex talk part four” a really easy conversation. There’s no way I can anticipate when big life questions will come up (certainly not at 5 and 3 years old), but I’m glad they ask me and I can answer with openness and honesty.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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