What do birds and bees have to do with babies?

Image: David Phillips

Image: David Phillips

A couple of months ago we had “The Talk” with CJ. He had just turned eight, but that was just circumstantial. It had nothing to do with his age, it had everything to do with his curiosity.

I do this Mommy-thing where I remind the boys that I “made” them. Do you know what I mean?

Kid: Waaaa… I fell of my bike and there’s blood!
Me: Please stop ruining your knees… I worked very hard to make those!

Kid: Don’t look, you might see my bum!
Me: Oh please, I made your bum.

It’s not just me who does this… or is it?

The Husband said it was because of these constant reminders of his creation, that CJ persistently asked the question, “How does a woman make a baby?” Perhaps he was right, but it was the only Ace I had and I was going to keep playing it.

The talk took a while to happen because the questions always came at inconvenient times. We would all be in the car, and I wasn’t ready to have the discussion with his younger brother present, or he would ask as I was giving him goodnight kisses in a blatant attempt at a bedtime stall.

I knew it was finally the right time when he asked me several different versions of the question in one week, and we were headed to Venice the next day. My parents would be looking after the boys for two weeks and I didn’t want this task to fall to them.

I sucked it up and told him we would sit down that evening. I would answer all of his questions.

I am a scientist and believe in telling things like it is. We have always use the term penis and the boys know that I am different from them and have a vagina and breasts. My plan was to be straightforward but keep it simple, to answer his current questions and not to confuse him with too much information.

And so it began…

Me: What would you like to know?

CJ: How does a woman make a baby?

Me: Girls have special eggs inside their body and when a woman is old enough and decides she wants a baby, these eggs begin to change and grow into a baby. It’s very much like a chicken, except inside a woman instead of a shell. (Easy peasey!)

Fortunately for me, they had just finished a project at school where their class incubated and hatched chicken eggs for a local farm. Their teacher had taught them the embryonic cycle of a chicken!

CJ: But how does the egg know that the woman wants to have a baby?

Me: Well… (now it was getting trickier) When a woman is old enough and ready to have a baby, she is usually married to a man who also wants a baby. The man has a special kind of seed that mixes with the egg and triggers it to start changing into a baby. (Okay, not bad.)

Before I go any further, I would like to explain that my kids know same-sex couples of both genders, with children and without. They both know that they will marry the PERSON with whom they wish to spend their life. They know this can be a woman or a man (just not their brother as they both think would be ideal). Sticking with my plan to keep things simple, I wasn’t going to delve into donors and surrogates unless there were specific questions.

CJ: How does the seed get inside the woman to mix with the egg?

Me: Well… (Still okay, just keep it simple… and missionary) When a man and woman love each other and are old enough (my mantra), they lie down together and the man’s penis goes inside the woman’s vagina. The seed comes out of his penis and finds the egg.

The look on CJ’s face at this point was priceless. I could see the gears turning in his head as he readjusted his preconceptions to include a penis in the baby-making process.

Me: It sounds pretty gross, doesn’t it.

CJ: Yeah.

Me: Well, it kind of is now. But it won’t seem gross when you are old enough and really want to have a baby with the person you love.

CJ: Okay…

Me: Any other questions? (Still saw some confusion brewing but I didn’t want to pre-emptively answer any question he wasn’t ready to ask.)

CJ: I just don’t understand how the man gets his penis to go inside the vagina. Does he just… (he made a shoving motion with his hands) stuff it in there?

Me (trying very hard not to laugh at the obvious image in my son’s head): No… You know how your penis gets hard sometimes? When you first wake up or if you have been rubbing it? Well, when the man and woman are lying down together, his penis gets hard like that and it can go into the vagina.

CJ: How does the penis know to get hard? Does the man have to rub it first?

Me: No… (Oh, god… help me!) when you are old enough and you love each other, it is very exciting when a man and woman are lying together. His penis gets hard because it feels good.

CJ: Okay.

Me: Now… (time for the secrecy clause) this is all private stuff. We’re talking about this because Daddy and I think you are ready to know this stuff. Your little brother isn’t ready to understand, and you shouldn’t tell your friends what we talked about. That’s the job of the parents when they think their kid is ready, okay?

CJ: Okay. I love you Mommy.

As usual, my heart melted as we kissed and hugged.

Me: I’m going to go downstairs and tell Daddy to come up to tuck you in. If any more questions pop into your head, you can ask him.

I quickly recapped the conversation to The Husband so he would know what material he was working with. We tagged off and up he went.

A few minutes later he was back down. The gentle probe to gauge the understanding of our conversation had gone well. CJ had had only one more thing to add.

Incredulous, he had told his Dad, “That is not at ALL how I thought it happened!”

I may have blown his mind, but it has put an end to the questions.

Anyone have a good anecdote? How did you, or plan to, explain the birds and the bees?

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17 responses to “What do birds and bees have to do with babies?

  1. Thank you for your acceptance of couples of the same gender.

    • It’s not “acceptance” really… anymore than we “accept” opposite sex couples. When some of our best friends, and kids’ best friends are same sex families, it’s really just another option.

      Thanks for reading, and for your lovely comment.

  2. Pingback: Funny things my kids say #8 | Escaping Elegance

  3. Pingback: They Never Told Me What A Vagina Was At School (I Still Don’t Know) | Awkward Teen Learns To Blog

  4. Unrelated to this post, my daughter called her vagina her front butt for a long time and it always made me giggle. I like that you were honest with your boy. I told Ace (my daughter) that mommy and daddy got pretty hammered at a brewery on Oatmeal Stout and did some things yadda yadda yadda and she was born 9 months later. I’m expecting her to inquire as to the yadda yadda yadda any day now. I’ll steal some of your good material when that time comes.

    • The 6 yo actually calls it my bagina – no matter how often he’s been corrected…

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. Your blog cracks me up – especially how you always begin with an apology for the crappy post you are posting… it’s not crap and you know it! Stop that false modesty. 😉

  5. What happened to the good ‘ole stork story? Or that you picked him up at the pound? You have to psychologically screw with your child’s head. That’s that duties of a parent.

    My kid is going to call his penis a wong-wong and believe that Aliens manifest in his mind when the time is right and a baby drips out of his ears in the middle of the night. They are sent to foster homes until they are claimed. Something like that. Aw. Good times ahead…

    • Kenny, these are all good points and suggestions. However, I have chosen to screw with my kids’ heads more subtly than this.

      The science of reproduction is far too easily fact checked. Why, in a couple more grades, they’ll even be given a book in school that will have diagrams and pictures. If they find out then that I lied to them, it would just ruin my credibility for the greater underlying deception that I’m weaving.

      It’s called the Big Picture, Kenny. You always have to look at the Big Picture.

  6. Yes, you are the only parent who tells their child you made their bum. Yes, you brought this conversation on yourself by telling them this.
    But I’m glad you did, because there is some pretty darn good material in here for ME to use when the time comes! Great post.

    • I can’t really be the only one! It’s such a great line for so many occasions…

      I’m sure when your time comes, the questions will be tougher. I had basic science. Knowing your offspring, you’re going to have to get all existential and stuff! That’s the talk I want to hear.

  7. Can you come to my house next??? 🙂

  8. I had that conversation with Noah at 3 because he ia biracial and children at daycare in Ottawa were asking if he was really mine. He asked and I told at the level he could understand. Even though his dad was not in his life I always talked about him and was open about most everything to an appropriate level for him. He laughed for hard when I told him he came from an egg. It was the funniest thing he has ever heard!

    I also didn’t add the marriage thing in because it really doesn’t have anything to do with baby making and since his father and I weren’t married it would have confused things even more. 🙂

    Now that he is 18, I’m makin sure he has a steady supply of condoms in case he chooses to have sex and reminding him of the serious consequences (stds, pregnancy, etc) of choosing to have sex.

    Parenting is an interesting ride. 🙂

    You did great!! Many women with husbands would have had their hisband give “the talk”. So koodos to you! You did a great job. And you son sounds just adorable!!

    • The egg thing always throws them for a loop.

      Funny how we think they need to be older to “understand”. It’s just up to us to answer the questions so that they are able to understand. And every kid is different, I’m sure my talk with his brother will be a whole different flavour.

      Congrats to you. You have raised your baby into a man. Wow – When my boys hit the teen years I’ll be calling on you for advice!

  9. Good for you being so straight forward!!

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