The Peanut turned six last week (more on that in another post) and I'm quickly realizing that I can no longer answer her questions solely for the benefit of my own amusement. Her curiosity and intellect have reached a stage where the quest for knowledge must be gently nurtured and delicately handled.
Dealing with kids this age is a bit of a tightrope. You're never sure what they already know about a subject yet, at the same time, you don't want to fill their heads with information that might blow their tiny, little minds.
Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to conversations about biology. Two recent conversations with my daughter have solidly driven that point home for me.
A week ago, the two of us were in a Chinese food coma and spaced out on the couch watching television. Suddenly, an image of a pregnant woman appears on the screen when the Peanut turns to me and says, “Daddy, how does the baby get out of the belly?”
Slightly panicking for a second, I remain calm enough to nonchalantly reply “When you see your mother tomorrow, ask her.”
“No, Daddy. I want you to tell me. I know how the baby gets in the belly. I just want to know how the baby gets out. Do they cut the belly open?”
Rembering the parenting adage of answering a child's questions as simply as possible, I reply “No, kiddo. The baby comes out of the woman’s vagina.”
I pause for a moment but she doesn't appear to have any follow-up questions so we go back to watching television together. However, a minute later, I look out the corner of my eye and catch her peeking down her shorts and just staring at her vagina with the biggest look of bewilderment I've ever seen.
I had to keep from laughing my ass off so hard that I almost had an aneurysm!
A few days later, my friend Erica's Jack Russell terrier gave birth to a litter of adorable puppies. The Peanut and I are on the subway and I'm showing her the latest batch of photos.
My daughter, with her fountain of newly-attained knowledge, turns to me and says in a very matter-of-fact voice, "Only female dogs can get pregnant and when they have babies, they come out of her vagina. Just like human women are the only ones who can get pregnant and give birth."
Normally I would have gently praised her for her intelligence. However, in this case, she followed it up by saying, "DID YOU KNOW THAT, DADDY? HUH? DID YOU? DID YOU? C'MON, DADDY. I CAN'T HEAR YOU. DID YOU KNOW THAT?"
So, in order to calm her down, I replied, "Listen, honey. I love you but you're six and you don't have ALL the answers. There's a very special subset of human men that are capable of having babies. Personally, I'm not biologically capable of getting pregnant or having babies. However, your Uncle Nelson is. In fact, he's pregnant right now. He's having a boy and if you want, we can go visit him in the hospital when it's time for the baby to be born."
Now let me just say that the Peanut and I log a lot of time together. She gets my sense of humor. In fact, at the tender age of six, she has already perfected the AER™ (Asian Eye Roll.) And 9 times out of 10, our conversations usually end with her looking at me and saying, "For real? No way!"
In this case, she replied "Oh yeah? Well, how is the baby going to come out of his belly? Uncle Nelson doesn't have a vagina."
"Of course he doesn't have a vagina, kiddo. The baby is going to come out his butt."
Like any little kid, merely hearing the word "butt" is enough to send her into convulsions of laughter. Either way, I assumed the conversation was over and that she knew I was just kidding.
Fast forward an hour later when I'm dropping her off at her mother's house. As the two of them are catching up, I go to use the restroom. When I come out, BossLady looks like she's seen a ghost.
"Your brother and his girlfriend are having a baby? Holy crap. They don't even live together. What are your parents going to say? I'm totally in shock. I think I need to sit down."
Before I can explain, the Peanut blurts out "Hold on a second. That's not even the best part. His girlfriend isn't the one having the baby. Uncle Nelson is the one who is pregnant. And guess what? THE BABY IS GOING TO COME OUT HIS BUTT!"
Needless to say, I had some explaining to do.
Being a highly involved father of the new generation (oy vey!) I started researching online about how to explain Sex Ed to a first-grade child. I also began persusing the local bookstore to see if there were any books that the Peanut could read on her own. Turns out there's a bunch of readily available source material available.
I find all of this more than a little amusing, primarily because the only conversation that I ever had with my parents about Sex Ed was when I was 18 years old. I was headed out one night to meet up with my high-school girlfriend. My father was on the couch reading the NY Times. As I had one foot out the door, he briefly looks up from his paper and yells out, "Hey! You know about condoms, right?"
End of conversation.Thank you, Obi Wan Kenobi.
Talk to me, people. Any funny conversations with your kids about the birds and the bees? Or alternatively, any humorous stories about your parents trying to drop knowledge on you? Spill it.
An inquiring mind wants to know.