Talking about the birds and the bees with the girls has been a gradual process. For some time, we were plateaued at the explanation that women have lots of tiny eggs inside their bodies, and men have seeds, and when they get together it makes a baby.
I know, I know, it sounds almost irresponsibly euphemistic to put it like that; positively Victorian. But when you’re dealing with three or four-year-olds, you don’t want to overwhelm them with new and possibly disturbing concepts. As it was, I had to reassure Elsa at one point that her eggs didn’t have to turn into babies if she didn’t want them to.
In fact, she seems strangely concerned (for a four-year-old, anyway) about how to avoid getting knocked up. A few weeks ago, while she and I were on our way home from the grocery store together (going to the grocery store is, sadly, one of the few opportunities I have for one-on-one time with each of the girls) she brought the subject up again. But this time, she asked it — the big awkward question: “How does the daddy get the seed into the Mommy’s eggs?”
Sigh. “Well, he puts his penis into her vagina, and sort of shoots the seed into her.”
Elsa giggled at this.
“Yeah,” I said. “It is kind of silly.”
“So,” she said, after a pause. “Does he grow a new one?”
“A new what?”
“A new penis.”
“You said he puts it into the mommy. But doesn’t he need it to pee?”
So, I had to tell her that, in fact, the penis stays attached to the man (in most cases). And that the man and woman just had to get really really close together. And that grownups liked doing this kind of thing, crazy as it sounded. At this point, she repeated her oft-stated assertion that she did not want to have babies.
Clio, on the other hand, does want to have babies. Today, as we were driving home from a weekend with Alastair’s parents, she asked me, “When you were pushing me and Elsa out of your belly, did Daddy help you?”
I told her yes, Daddy helped cheer me on, and helped me not feel scared, and when it hurt, he tried to help me feel better.
“When I have a baby,” she said. “I want the daddy I marry to help me, too.”
“Oh, that’s nice sweetie,” I said. “I’m sure he will.” (Alastair and I exchanged fond, “isn’t she adorable?” glances.)
“Yeah,” she continued, “Because I wouldn’t want to get my hands all slimy from the baby.”
And there you have it. The miracle of life, as interpreted by Elsa and Clio. And this doesn’t even cover the discussions about same-sex marriage and baby-making that we’ve also attempted to have. (Both of the girls have claimed, at different times, that they want to marry various female friends.)
Interestingly, they’ve never asked how twins, in particular, are made. I’m sure that question will come any day now. And do we try to explain that we had “help” in form of ovulation drugs and an IUI? “Well, mommy gave herself shots that made her eggs bigger and poppier, and the doctors took some of daddy’s seeds and put them into a syringe-like thing and….You know what? Never mind.”
Now, please, PLEASE — I know you’ve got some hysterical tidbits of your own to share about the questions your kids have asked / things they’ve said regarding the facts of life. Do tell!
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