The experts tell us the best way to address sensitive topics with your children is through organic moments. Meaning, moments that occur naturally. The idea behind it is that the discussion is child-led, and only goes as far as they want it to go. It begins naturally for them, and it ends naturally for them.
As you may know from your visits here before, I am pregnant. We are at 27 weeks today – which is about 6 months along. I subscribe to a weekly newsletter from www.babycentre.co.uk (I know I’m Canadian and that there’s one on the Canadian site; the UK one is just more my style is all. Less US-focused. Anyway.) and every Saturday morning I get an email talking about what my baby will be starting to do this week, and how it’s developing. There is always a link to a 3-D video that describes the development as well. Today I watched where our baby is at, along with Connor, my newly-turned 8 year old. He was just as excited as I was, and when we were through watching it, he asked to see his favourite baby-developing video. You may have seen it yourself when it was making the rounds on facebook, about a year ago. He was fascinated by it then as he thought about this is how he started, and how Sam started and wow – look at that! Over the course of a week, we watched it probably 50 times. He loves the song the videographer used too.
So anyway – back to today. He wants to watch it again, and so we do. He comments throughout it, confirming what he remembers from when we watched it before, and making logical leaps that he did not make before. Things like, “Oh – so the girls have the eggs, and I guess that means that the little swimmer thingys come from the boys. Right?” I confirmed that this assertion was correct, and again reminded him that those swimmers are called sperm. It is always around this point that I get nervous that he will take the discussion to the next point. He never has, and for that I’ve been grateful.
Now, MOMD and I have talked before about when we should have “the talk” with Connor, since he’s approaching the age where his body may begin to start to change. And as the experts have advised, we have always decided to wait for the “organic moments”. Is this passive on our part? Trying to avoid what will be a potentially awkward discussion? Maybe; although I have to say that I don’t think it is.
But again, I am side-tracked. After we watched the video again, we got dressed and headed out to the grocery store. While we’re driving, Connor says to me, “So Mom – how do the little swimmers get into the Mom, and to her egg?”
“Well, that’s a big question isn’t it?” I looked at MOMD and his eyes were bulging. We were both trying to play it cool, recognizing that indeed this was a totally organic moment. I followed the advice of my awesome Obstetrician (who says that when her kids ask big questions she always says “Well, what do you think?” because often they aren’t asking the question she thinks they are. I’ve done this before and it’s worked like magic) and responded, “What do you think, Connor?” This time though, there was no shirking the conversation. He said, “I really don’t know Mom.”
I took a deep breath, looked to MOMD for his acquiescence, and said, “Okay buddy I need to ask you: Do you really want to have this conversation?” At this moment I was kinda hoping that he would say yes. Because I figure, we’re at the gateway here, he’s old enough to know basics, and this is the right environment for the conversation to be light, fun and informative. Blessedly, he said, “Yes. I’m sure.”
And so I told him. Very basic and very simply. I started out saying, “Well… it’s messy. Because the swimmers – the sperm – are in your penis.” His jaw hit his chest! He was incredulous… “Eww!!” *beat* “That would be messy!”
“So, how do they get into the girl?”
“Have you ever heard the word, ‘sex’,” I asked?
“I’ve heard it in a word before; it’s part of ‘sexy.'”
“That’s right it is. Sex is how the sperm get to the egg.”
“But how?” Oh, he’s persistent!
“Well, usually when 2 people are in love they decide to have sex. And you know, you’re usually in love because you need to be naked for sex, and you really don’t want to show your private spots to just anyone, do you?” He shook his head violently from side to side, smirking the whole time. “And when you have sex, the boy puts his penis into the girl’s vagina, and that’s how the sperm get to the egg.”
And there ended the discussion. We did talk about how boys are born with the parts to make the swimmers, and how girls are born with their eggs, but that it takes time before your body is ready to release the sperm and eggs. So it’s not like he thinks he can become a dad now or anything.
It was a huge moment for me… and for MOMD. We keep having these little conversations to reassure each other (Ok, I ask him a question, and he reassures me) that the conversation was appropriate and reasonable and comfortable, and that the whole world did not changed on the way to the grocery store.
Because man: now my kid knows about sex.
Pass me a drink.