[Just a note: this was written originally in December of 2011, my kids are a bit older–and more inquisitive–now.]
I’ve mentioned before that I have two young children—both boys. The oldest just turned six and the younger one is nearing five, both to that prime age of questioning…
On a lazy afternoon in August, I was flipping over a grilled cheese when all of the sudden, my oldest son, Eddie, runs into the kitchen. “Mom, how does the egg get inside the penguin?”
“On the movie. The penguin has an egg inside of her. How did it get there.”
The grilled cheese that I had been holding on with my spatula—about to flip—falls back into the pan. “Eddie, can we talk about this later?”
“No. I want to know how the egg got there.”
“Right.” I sigh and put that grilled cheese on a plate, then put the next one in the skillet. As if out of nowhere, a thought occurs to me: he’s watching the penguin movie with his dad, why is he in here asking me how the egg got inside the penguin? Resuming one of those 1950s moms stances where the mother puts one hand on her hip and points at the child with whatever kitchen utensil she happens to have in her hand, I point at my son. “Eddie, why didn’t you ask your dad about this?”
“I did. He said to come ask you.”
Of course he did. I turn my attention back to the grilled cheese for a minute and take a deep, calming breath. What’s the big deal? I read and write books that have sex in them. So why is it so hard to speak about it? I glanced over to my son. There’s NO way I’m about to tell him all the details. Granted, I never actually had that particular conversation with my mother, which created an even more awkward situation later, but he’s not even in first grade yet. All the details are unnecessary, aren’t they? I cleared my throat. “Well see, son, it’s like this. The mommy and daddy penguin lie very, very close to each other.”
“Oh!” he said with an excited nod. Then leaves the kitchen.
That was it?!
A wave of relief passes over me and I go about making the rest of the grilled cheeses. All the while, I’m grinning, nodding, and inwardly congratulating myself on being the best mom—ever.
Five minutes later, I walk into the living room just in time to hear “mood music” followed by the penguins…uh…lying very close to one another.
Needless to say, my kids were very fascinated by the next ten minutes of March of the Penguins, then I spent the following 15 minutes answering even more questions.
Fast forward 4 months and arrive at Tuesday.
My boys’ school requires a physical for their new students and through a series of unfortunate events, yesterday was the earliest I could get us in. I’ll spare you one of the conversations we had to have in the office, but the other is relevant.
Up on the wall was a giant poster with several baby-in-womb and birthing diagrams. At first, his obsession was the baby and the rope.
“What’s the rope for?”
“That’s the umbilical chord. It’s how the baby gets it’s nutrients.”
“Oh, so the baby eats the rope?”
“No. Nutrients pass from the mom into the baby.”
“Mom, why isn’t the baby wearing any clothes?”
“Because babies aren’t born with clothes.”
“Born. What does—” his eyes look to the right of the poster at another diagram— “What is that?!”
“Uh, why don’t we read a book?”
Shaking his head wildly, he starts pointing to the diagram. “What is that thing?”
“That’s the baby’s head.”
He points about an inch or so higher. “What’s that?”
“I’m not sure, it’s not labeled.” Note, I did NOT lie, there wasn’t a label and arrow.
“How is the baby coming out?”
Where is the doctor?! He really shouldn’t keep his patients waiting like this. “Well, the mom is pushing him out. Kind of like when you have to go to the bathroom.”
“Oh, she’s pooping him out.”
“More or less, sure.”