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Jane Roper

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Jane Roper is the author of the memoir Double Time: How I Survived–and Mostly Thrived–Through the First Three Years of Mothering Twins and blogger at Her writing has appeared on Babble, Salon, The Huffington Post, The Rumpus, and the upcoming anthology The Push: Birth Stories for the 21st Century. Jane lives in the Boston area with her husband and twin daughters.

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“Does he grow a new one?”

By Jane Roper |

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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About Jane Roper


Jane Roper

Jane Roper is the author of the memoir Double Time: How I Survived–and Mostly Thrived–Through the First Three Years of Mothering Twins and blogger at Jane lives in the Boston area with her husband and twin daughters.

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11 thoughts on ““Does he grow a new one?”

  1. Korinthia Klein says:

    Does he grow a new one! I wish I had a story as funny as that, but no, the only interesting discussion on the reproduction front here is that Mona is concerned about my ‘running out of babies,’ to which I assure her I’m totally fine with how things are thank you very much.

  2. Rosstwinmom says:

    The boys just yesterday saw a friend’s mommy who is pregnant. They wanted to know why she only had one baby in there. My reply, “Because she’s weak.”
    Ha! Just kidding! Probably because she didn’t get turkey-basted like Mommy did.

  3. Julianne says:

    Hmmm…never thought of it before, but I guess it WOULD be kinda cool if we just got to keep the dang thing afterwards…A trophy of sorts, that could be taken out on rainy days.

  4. Susan Allen says:

    You MUST (and I don’t use this word often) get a copy of Robie Harris’ book “It’s So Amazing!: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families.” It’s targeted at ages 4-8 and explains everything using wonderful graphics with a bird and a bee as the narrators. Your girls won’t understand all of it at their age, but it’s a great place to start. I got it for Emmy who’s 9 now a few years back and we’ve looked at/read it many times together. Your library should have it. Trust me: it’s a winner!

  5. Voice of Reason says:

    I was at a baby shower the other day and I mentioned that if anyone was trying to get pregnant, they should hold the newborn because according to an old African proverb, this will do the trick. Someone standing close by (an adult woman) exclaimed, “Does it eliminate the need for the penis’s involvement, because that would be great!” Out of the mouths of… fully grown women. LOL.

  6. EG says:

    Wow, you’ve got the whole kit and caboodle with Elsa already!

    Right around the time Will turned 4, I think, he said randomly, “So when the baby is popping out of the Mommy, she takes her shirt of?” Me, “Um, yeah?” Him, “Then when she puts her shirt back on, how do they get the baby back in?” Clearly we’re confused.

    Actually he seems to really want to know how COWS have babies. I’d rather tell where human babies come from than cow babies (artificial insemination). “So you order the bull sperm from another ranch, and it comes in the mail!” In case we weren’t confused enough.

  7. Lin says:

    I liked the book From Diapers to Dating. It gave me some ideas for how to talk to my daughter about this stuff!

    Of course, she turns 1 this week, so not much has come up. We do use the proper terms for genitals, though.

    My funny story:
    As a child, my friend’s mom used all kinds of weird euphemisms for vulva (she had 3 daughters). One memorable day, the 5 year old fell on the monkey bars and screamed “OWW MY VIVA PUFF!”

    Yep, her mom had taught her to call her genitals after a Canadian marshmallow cookie.

  8. Jane Roper says:

    Viva puff!! That’s hilarious. Our euphemism is “yoni.” Because we’re all ancient Sanskrit like that.

  9. bikerdad says:

    I was just tweeting that Oct is “Let’s Talk Month”

    glad that you intentionally or unintentionally had a well timed talk, can’t wait to have the talk in another year or so

  10. googhie says:

    My boy/girl twins claim they want to marry each other. Hoo boy! Luckily, I can respond with “that’s against the law.” and it does the trick to curb the discussion and I don’t have to explain about three headed babies.

  11. Jane Roper says:

    Thanks for the link, Bikerdad! I didn’t realize my timing was so perfect.

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