Monday, December 3, 2012

It's Complicated

My daughter M will be five in January and has been asking questions about reproduction for a while now. She's wrapping her head around the fact that she didn't always exist ("Where was I at your wedding?") Etc.

We've told M that there's a special place in a girl's tummy called a uterus, and that is where babies live until they are born. Sometimes it bothers her (mostly it bothers her twin brother) that there is no such place in a boy's tummy (this bothers lots of adult women as well).

Both of the twins have struggled to comprehend the notion of a baby in a woman's belly. My son, horrified when a pregnant woman told him her large bump was a baby, asked if she'd eaten her baby. M was in tears one day because she assumed babies grew in tummies whenever and she didn't want a baby in her tummy. I assured her that she didn't have to have a baby unless she wanted to (and she was thirty-five, added her father).

Today, she demanded more specific information than "God puts babies in the tummy." M instinctively knows that there are a lot of things God lets people do themselves, and putting babies into tummies is reasonably understood to be one of those things, unless you're a fourteen year old virgin engaged to a guy named Joseph.

Feeling brilliant, I explained that it's a lot like flowers. Flowers grow from seeds that people plant. Daddies have special human seeds and they plant them in the mommy. I told M that her father put seeds in me and the seeds grew into her and her brother.

M: What happened to the rest of the seeds?
Me: There were no leftovers. Daddy only had two seeds (What? This was not the time to discuss the wet spot).
M: Can you have more children?
Me: I could if I wanted to, but I already have three great children and that's enough.
M: I want you to have more babies.
Me: Oh? Why?
M: Because I want three sisters. (Pause) And also because I want to watch Daddy put the seeds in you.
M: Can I watch Daddy put the seeds in you please?
Me: Well, that's usually done in private.
M: Why?
Me: Well, you know how sometimes people just want privacy? It's complicated. I'll explain when you're older.
M: Do you have to open your mouth and that's where Daddy puts the seeds?
M: Do you have to open your mouth for the seeds, Mommy?
Me: Um. No. The seeds go somewhere else.
M: Where?

Forgive me, but I was just not ready to go into the specific workings of a vagina and penis two minutes before dropping her off at preschool. We should be at home for this discussion. She should be twelve for this discussion.

Me: It's magic. It's a special place. It's... complicated. I'll explain when you're bigger.

She didn't respond. In the rear view mirror, I could see her thinking it through. I await the next round of questions.

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