"Awww, I'm never going to be able to play in the bathtub with my brother again?"
Both of them didn't understand, but for the most part, they accepted the new rule.
Of course, to be honest, we are a very open family, and everyone is using everyone else's bathroom all the time. No one seems to notice a naked butt passing through now and again, and I'm constantly being interrupted in the bathroom. We still live in innocence.
Tonight my bath was interrupted first by my daughter, who couldn't sleep because of some girl trouble at school. "Can I talk to you about something?" she asked. I listened. I counseled. I sent her back to bed.
He proceeded to tell me about some boy struggles at school, so very different than what my daughter had just described. And as he shared that a boy in his class was using foul language, which he knew was wrong, he described a conversation that included hand gestures and the word "sex." Perhaps this one isolated moment wouldn't have piqued his curiosity but
Guided by my own parents, I have always taken the stance that I answer my children's questions honestly - within their cognitive understanding. The first time they asked me where babies came from (when they were tots), I told them that they grew in a woman's tummy, and I showed them pictures of my expanding belly. The next time, a few years later, I explained that it takes a man and a woman to make a baby, but that families come in all forms and babies are made in many ways. But this question from my son tonight was different. My son asked me specifically what "sex" meant. And he did this while I was naked in the bathtub.
So naturally I said, "This is a big conversation. Do you really want to know?"
"Yes," he replied, his face ensuring to me that he did, in fact, really want to know.
"Then I need to get dressed. Go ask Daddy to meet us."
So what is the cognitive truth to a 9-year-old who has seen the puberty video "Always changing, always growing" and who is inquisitive by nature?
My spur of the moment decision was - it's the truth. And together the three of us sat, my little boy, my incredibly uncomfortable hubby, and me, while I tried to tell him that truth.
I asked my son if he ever wondered where babies came from. He answered with his own theory - "They are dropped out of the sky, which is why they don't remember anything."
My husband and I looked at each other.
"Who told you that? That's not the truth."
He responded, "It's my theory. Because babies don't remember anything."
A little bit proud of his answer, I continued, "Well, babies are made in a couple of ways. I've told you before it takes a man and a woman. The woman gives eggs (I pointed to my ovaries) and a man gives sperm, which is made in his penis."
"Not true," said my hubby, who, though incredibly uncomfortable, decided to enter the conversation as a fact checker.
"Testicles," I corrected. "But it comes out of his penis." My hubby nodded approvingly.
My son looked inquisitively at me.
I continued. "So to make a baby, you can take the eggs out of the woman and the sperm out of a man and mix it in a dish."
"And the baby grows in a dish?!?!?" he asked.
"No, you put the mixture back in a mama," I replied, trying hard to meet him on his cognitive level.
"Ok," he said, seeming to make sense of the science.
"Or..." I hinted.... "The man and the woman could make it together without the dish."
"How?" he wondered.
"Well, what's different between a man and a woman?"
"Their privates," he answered, smiling shyly.
"Yes, so think about it. What do the hand motions you showed us earlier mean?"
He looked at me. As the realization hit, his face transformed into a mixture of horror and disbelief. He burst out laughing (sobbing?) and couldn't control himself. "You mean????" he stuttered, unable to control the laughter/sobbing, unable to ask the question.
"Are you ok? my husband said. "BREATHE...."
He continued to laugh, his entire body convulsing, his face pressed into his hands. And then finally he looked at us.
"It's just.... so.... GROSS!" my little boy exclaimed.
My hubby and I exchanged relieved glances, and I went on to explain that sex is something that people who love each other do to make a baby, and it's not something for children to do and/or talk about. He assured me he has never used those hand gestures and that he wouldn't say anything to anyone else about it.
Of course, then he asked the all important question in this conversation -
"How was I made?"
For the first time, being able to say my kids were made in a petri dish didn't feel awkward. It gave me a sigh of relief. I'm pretty sure he thinks his parents have never had sex, which allows
Of course, now I have to initiate "the conversation" with his twin sister - because I want her to hear it from me, not from her brother, or from the boys on the bus. And in order to do this, I need to accept, as my mom has been telling me recently, that I've entered TweenLife. I need to embrace this moment between innocence and experience - and just keep hoping that they continue to talk to me, to ask me questions, and that I'm strong enough to tell them the truth.