Once upon a time, in a land far away and in a time not all that distant, I had the first in what I knew would be a series of talks with my children. Really, with my daughter. Monkey was, as you might recall, more interested in playing with his Legos than in discussing the miracle of life.
When I wrote that post, I found it being discussed on another site, and someone had taken a lot of time to write a long, angry comment about how I had “flat-out lied” to my children and my response to the situation was completely lacking. I think I left a comment on that discussion pointing out that I try to gauge what my kids are ready to digest, each time we talk, and that I am not going to outlay more than they’re ready to hear in the interest of being 100% factual right this second. (Not that my explanation mattered; some people aren’t interested in having their opinions cluttered up with reality.)
Anyway. Just as I had predicted, the day for more information came.
You know what is really superfantastic? When my child decides that the right time to have a discussion about human anatomy and reproduction is in the bread aisle at Kroger. That’s awesomeness in action.
So basically, I was trying to select a package of bagels. My thought process was going like this: “Ohhh, those cinnamon raisin ones look good. Chickadee would love those. But Monkey won’t eat them because of the raisins. Do they have ones that are cinnamon without raisins? No, only in the little ones. Oh well. How about honey oatmeal? Okay, we’ll get those.”
Meanwhile, Chickadee was wrestling with important concepts. Bagels? Pffft. She scoffs at bagels. She’s 9, dude. She has deeper matters to attend to.
“Mom!” I grabbed a package of bagels and stood back up from where I’d been crouching down. (Why are the bagels on the BOTTOM shelf? People like bagels. They should put the crumpets and the flatbreads down there. Bagels should be at stomach height at least. Reason #521 why I hate Kroger, people.) “After you have a baby, do they just keep coming?”
I considered this while tossing the bagels into the cart. Monkey was halfway down the aisle from us, admiring the Wonder bread. (I don’t buy white bread. Ever. He was probably wondering what the Wonder WAS.) (Thank you. I’ll be here all week.) I wasn’t sure what she was asking, but my MomSense told me it wasn’t anything good. “Do WHAT just keep coming, honey?”
“Babies. MORE babies.” She huffed at my obvious confusion. “You know, after you have one, do you just keep having them after that?”
“Well…” I still wasn’t sure what she meant, but I took a stab. “Not really, honey, no. If you don’t want to have a baby, there’s ways to make sure you don’t. I mean, there’s ways to keep from getting pregnant.” Yes, I want to discuss birth control methods at Kroger. I am a lucky, lucky lady. Maybe we could work our way back over to produce and then I’d have PROPS to use!
Again, an annoyed sigh. “No! Mom!” Now she came around the cart, right up close to me, doubtless to speak more slowly so that my addled, ancient brain might grasp her message. “I mean, once you… you know… do that THING you told us about… once you do THAT, do the babies just keep coming afterwards?”
Suddenly, I got it. The helpful voice in my head shrieked: DO NOT LAUGH DO NOT LAUGH!
“Um, honey?” I gestured to Monkey that we were continuing down the aisle and he should follow. I grabbed the cart handle with one hand and put the other arm around Chickadee. “Sweetie, are you asking me if you only have to have sex once, EVER, and then you get to have as many babies as you want?”
Relief flooded her little face as she nodded. Well, I’d soon take care of THAT.
“Oh, well. Um. No, honey. You have to fertilize the egg each time, you know. And you don’t always get pregnant every time you have sex, either. So you need to have sex AT LEAST once to make EACH baby.”
Understanding dawned in her eyes and I found myself longing for five minutes ago when I’d thought we’d be talking IUDs over by the juice boxes. That could’ve been a great conversation. Condoms would’ve been a cakewalk compared to this.
“Sooo…” the horror hadn’t left her, but she had to know the truth, and in spite of herself, she had to ask, “people do… THAT THING… more than once?”
Oh dear God. Ever since our last conversation about this, my daughter has been walking around under the impression that you only ever have to do THAT THING once in your entire life. And only if you want to have kids.
“Yes, honey. People do that… well, a lot. Sometimes people do it when they’re not even trying to make a baby.” She gaped at me.
(Inner voice: DO NOT LAUGH DO NOT LAUGH!!!)
“Well, because it’s fun. Because it’s a way that grown-up people who love each other a lot share something special.” We turned down the cereal aisle. I wondered what might get me off the hook here. Froot Loops? Maybe an offer of Cookie Crisp? No, that’d be too suspicious.
“It’s FUN?” Her look told me I could not have insulted her more thoroughly unless, perhaps, I’d told her she was a retarded goat. “That can’t be fun. That’s GROSS.”
“Yes, well,” I tried to sound breezy, “YOU are supposed to think it’s gross. All kids are. It’s a grown-up thing, and you’re not supposed to understand it all right now. Okay?”
“Okay,” she said, scanning the cereal boxes. “Whatever.”
And that “whatever” was sweet music to my ears, because I had been SURE the next question was going to be “Do you and Otto DO THAT?” and I just really feel that they are going to need to open the new Publix before I can answer that one appropriately.