Gomer is 7, and he rarely makes a declarative statement. My day is filled with why questions and what questions and they’re usually followed up with how come? I try very hard to be patient and to answer his questions as best as I am able. Sometimes I find them difficult, and sometimes I find them hysterical.
When Gomer was in Kindergarten, he started asking about his penis. He’d known for several years that he had a penis, and he knew the basic workings of his penis. One day he decided there must be more to the penis than just urinating. He asked me what the penis does. “What does it do?” I asked casually, knowing exactly where we were headed.
“Yeah. It just pees and that’s it?” he asked.
“Well…” I began.
He cut me off, “And what’s this?” He was pointing at his scrotum.
“Those are your balls,” said the Hubs coming in on the conversation.
“My balls??” Gomer looked even more confused.
I’ve always tried to teach my kids the proper names for their genitals. There’s nothing worse than a 5 year old saying “Nut sack.”
“Actually, it’s called your scrotum,” I said.
“OK. So what does my scro….t… What do my balls do?” Gomer asked.
“They help a man make a baby,” I replied.
“They have…stuff…they make…stuff…things that a woman needs to make a baby. The scrotum has it.” Doing great, Jen! Not.
“Does Adolpha have balls?” Adolpha is Gomer’s younger sister.
“No. Only boys. OK, time to get dressed!” I shut him down that day and sent him to school with strict instructions not to mention scrotum or balls to his friends.
I decided I was going to need some expert help. I’m not one to consult parenting books very often, but I was at a loss how best to explain procreation to my inquisitive, yet sensitive, 5 year old. I fired off a quick email to my friend who also happens to be the counselor at Gomer’s school. I told her Gomer was asking a lot of questions and I wondered if she could recommend a book or two to help me out. She came back with a tersely worded email that basically said, “It’s inappropriate for 5 year olds to ask these kinds of questions and it’s inappropriate for you to discuss them with him. Divert him.”
That sort of pissed me off and made me feel more than a little bit creepy. So I headed out to the library on my own. I asked the librarian for some help and she found 3 books for me. I scanned them and found two of them basically said the same thing the counselor said. The third one said, Answer their questions as fully and as accurately as possible and only answer what they ask – don’t elaborate. And sometimes it’s OK to say I don’t know.
That’s the one I picked to follow.
A few weeks later, the topic arose again. “My balls….uh scro…tum…has stuff that makes babies?” Gomer asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“I’m not sure of the science that’s involved, Gomer. It just knows when you’re ready and it does it.” So far, so good.
“How does the stuff get out?”
“Through your penis.”
“Through my pee hole!?” he exclaimed.
“When will it come out?”
“When it’s ready. When you need it to.”
“How does it get to the mommy to make a baby?”
“Gomer. It’s a pretty big deal to make a baby. Are you sure you want to know?”
“When a mommy and a daddy (I’m just going to assume that he will wait to have sex when he’s married – ha) are ready to have a baby the daddy puts his penis inside the mommy’s vagina -”
“ARGHHHH! No, no, no!! I don’t want to do that. EVER!” Gomer yelled. He was crying now and really upset.
“No one said you were going to do that now, Gomer. I told you, it’s for adults only.” I said, hugging him.
“Oh Mommy, that is horrible! How could you let Daddy do that to you?” No comment.
Suddenly, he sat up away from me, “Mommy, I think the only person I can do that with is Adolpha!”
Do your kids ask you about s-e-x? How do you respond?
Be sure to read my daily rants at People I Want to Punch in the Throat where you’re sure to laugh and/or might be offended (it’s where you can find my R-rated rants).
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Photo: Maggie Smith