Parenting and family, served with a shot of vodka
The older kids get, the more parenting is like being trapped in a pop quiz. You never know when awkward questions will present themselves. And then when they do, you’ve gotta think quickly about A) what to say; and B) what other queries the child will have based on your answer.
That being said, I always try to be as honest as is age appropriate for the question.
My conversation with four-year-old Sweet Pea began innocently enough. She asked if her friend’s new baby would be at the back-to-school night at her preschool that evening. I said, “Well, the baby is still in her mommy’s tummy, so I guess, yes, she will be there in a way.”
“How will the baby get out of her tummy?,” she asked.
Oh man, here we go. My standard answer — one that my seven-year-old son still finds acceptable — has been “When it is the right time, a doctor helps get the baby out.”
But tonight, that wasn’t good enough for her. “But mommy, HOW? Does the doctor make a hole and take it right out of the tummy?”
OH GOD, I thought. Do I have time to take a shot of bourbon and think about this?
“Yes, sometimes, if the baby is having trouble,” I said. “But much of the time, they come out another special place.”
She looked at me thoughtfully, and to my surprise, said, “Is that other place their privates?”
I breathed in. “Yes.”
Digesting this information, she goes, “So me and (Superhero) both came out of your privates?”
She sat in silence for 20 long, excruciating seconds, and I was hoping this would wrap things up.
“Oh my gosh, mommy. When a baby comes out, does it BUST YOUR PRIVATES WIDE OPEN?”
I started cracking up, thinking, Hell to the yes, it does! But I didn’t want to traumatize her, so I told her that mommy’s bodies were magical and could stretch like Silly Putty.
She nodded and accepted that information.
“So, mommy. How does a baby get IN a mommy’s tummy?”
“Hey, Sweet Pea. Didn’t you say you made a really cool pumpkin for back-to-school night? It’s almost time to go see it! Can you find your shoes?”
“Oh yes, mommy! Let’s get ready to go.”
WHEW. The great thing about four-year-olds is that the power of redirection still works much of the time. That was enough truth for one night. Besides, there’s plenty of time to answer awkward birds and bees questions when we go to the zoo.