Some of us bloggers have been sharing our “birds and the bees” parenting stories. Teen Spirit always displayed a robust curiosity about such things so I probably have more than a few of these over the years. We had plenty of the typical moments. Like the time when, at the age of 4, when he harangued a mom at daycare drop off.
"Excuse me, Jacob’s mommy? How did that baby get in your tummy? How will it get out?" Awkward but not so unusual – at least that’s what I kept telling myself. I assured him that I’d explain all the deets when we got home.
I had imagined – oh so wrongly – that we would have a series of conversations. In my imaginings these were always quiet, curled up after the bedtime story – he would ask an insightful question and I would dole the perfect, age-appropriate nuggets of information. Keep it simple, that’s what I always say. But then I remembered, this was the 4 year old who was horrified that the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny could get in our house while we were sleeping. He needed detailed instructions for them about what entrances/chimneys they were allowed in, how to get to his room and how to get outta Dodge pronto (and don't touch anything!) So I thought I’d better give him a little bit of detail about where babies come from and that the conversation would develop naturally after that.
The minute we walked through the door, he stood tapping his foot impatiently.
“So you said you would tell me how the baby gets out.“
My opener: "When the baby is big enough then a little hole in the mommy's body gets bigger so the baby can squeeze out."
So much for conversation. His jaw hung swinging in the breeze so I closed with:
"It kind of hurts but the mom and baby are ok, and the doctors and nurses take care of them and they're home soon." He nodded and looked like he was silently taking measurements and performing complex calculations in his head. But he didn't make a peep.
Until about three weeks later, when he burst into the bathroom in the midst of a Eureka moment.
“Is the hole where the baby comes out near the hole where you go pee pee?"
Why, yes, son, yes it is. Jubilant, he ran out.
Over the years, he started asking about other pieces of the puzzle. When I was pregnant with La Principessa, we bought him a detailed Arthur book about having babies. He pored over it with the intensity of a pirate searching a treasure map. But there were a lot of dots left to be connected. I sat through an extended grilling of whether I had any boyfriends before Daddy, and what exactly do you do on a date. He then admitted when he was old enough he wanted to go on a date to the Mary Wash Hospital cafeteria because their breakfast buffet was so good.
Not long after that, he ran into the kitchen while I was elbow deep in chicken parts and demanded to know "how the baby gets in there.” I turned slowly after quickly rinsing my hands and said, “OK, honey. Well, first….” But he was gone – just a poof of dust like the Road Runner leaves in his wake. At first I thought I had been hearing things but I eventually found him upstairs, where he kept running away from me, yelling, “Never mind, I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to talk.”
We had a few more of those moments until he was about 10 and he started Health classes. One night, he strolled into the kitchen and posed this one:
“Mom, do you know the three main ways the HIV virus is transmitted?” That was really the first time during our one-sided conversations that I struggled to get air back in my lungs before I could answer him. “I guess there’s blood transfusions….” Before I could finish, he yelled, “Sexual intercourse, sexual intercourse! Don’t forget that!” And he bolted again up to hide in his room. And I stood standing in the kitchen waiting for the next “non-versation” to sneak up on me.