As parents, many of us fear “that” day (which one, right??). I had a glimpse of it several months ago, when driving my daughter to a play date. She asked how to prevent pregnancy. She was seven. Fortunately her friends' house was really close to ours so I got out of answering it... that time.
Since then, I’ve been seriously considering how this conversation will eventually go. Discussing age-appropriate sex talks with parents in the office, I started looking forward to the challenge (in a twisted, disturbing kind of way). Perhaps it would build credibility if I went through it successfully?
My opportunity came one night this August. My husband was out of town. The Littles were in bed. All of a sudden, footsteps in the hall. Izzy, my now eight year old, comes in.
“Mommy, can I talk to you?"
“Of course, come in. What do you want to talk about? Did you want to read in my bed again?” (Something we negotiate every night).
“No. I was reading the American Girl Taking Care of You book and I just don’t get it. What are tampons and why do women put them in their vaginas?”
At first, I have to admit it was the classic “deer in headlights” phenomenon. But then, I thought, she came in here so openly, and clearly feels like I will be fully able to answer this question. Here is my big chance! The way this goes will set the tone for years of sex, drugs, and rock and roll questions!
“Come sit down. Let’s talk,” I motion for her to sit next to me on the bed.
First came a preamble about how this is a sacred conversation to be had only between mommies and daddies and their children. NO discussing with friends. Then after, the pictures of the brain, ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix, and vagina, I explained the whole darn thing to her. Amazingly, she was able to repeat it back. After thinking a minute, the inevitable, the question we all fear and do not want to be confronted with:
“But how does the sperm get to the egg?”
“The man and woman lay close together lovingly (it is very special, since they are making a new person) and the man puts his penis inside the woman’s vagina and puts the sperm in there.”
“OH. MY. GOD. That is sooo gross…Can’t I have a baby without a penis in my vagina???!”
Yup, artificial insemination came next along with relief that there are no penises required to procreate.
“Okay, thanks Mom! I’m gonna go read Harry Potter now. Good night!” She kisses me and skips merrily to her room.
The next day during a play date, she pulls me aside and asks if we can speak privately about “the subject of the night before.” (This kid is like fifty years old at heart).
“So, if I decide to be artificially inseminated, how do I know that the sperm donor is a good person AND a healthy person?”
I now officially have lots of credibility.