Not in front of the children...

>> Friday, 1 February 2008

It's Friday night - again. I'm sitting here on my lonesome - again. Now, don't get me wrong. I don't resent my beloved for taking yet another weekend out, this time with his oldest friend. They've been trying to get some 'bloke time' together for the last year, but events have conspired against them, and they were unable to do so until now. And before some smart alec out there suggests they just get together for a drink, Husband's best mate lives in Holland. So 'male bonding time' is not quite as simple to achieve as it would be if he lived down the road. Or even in the same country...

But I do resent him for something. Namely, for leaving me alone to deal with 'The Question'.

Which Boy #1 asked me today. The answer to this question is fraught with difficulty, and if I get it wrong in any way, I could scar him for life. And that question?

"Mama, where do babies come from?"

I thought I had a headache before this one popped out in the middle of the supermarket. To buy time, I set a sharp course for the ice-cream cabinet and a subsequent discussion of the merits of vanilla vs chocolate, whilst I cast my mind back to my own childhood. I remember my sister and I had a similar talk with my parents, but not until my mother was around 6 months pregnant with my younger brother and we started to get curious about her burgeoning stomach.

Just to put this in context, sis and I are 7 and 9 years older respectively than our younger brother. I know, I know. I can only think we got that far without being interested in this thorny subject because my parents were (and still are) staunch Catholics and any nonsense in that department was usually dismissed by a stern "That will do!" from my father. At the time he was so open on the subject of sex that if a semi-clad person was shown on television he would get up (this was pre-remote controls, so all the more impressive for it) and switch channels. It must have been exhausting for him as we got older and were allowed to stay up past the 9.00pm watershed...

Anyway, realising the questions regarding her stomach were not going to go away, my mother went out and bought my sister and I a book on the subject. Bearing in mind this was the mid 1970's, it was actually quite descriptive. I can remember the cartoons showing cross sections of people making babies, even now. The man had very curly black hair, a beard and glasses. (He was clearly very short sighted because he kept them on ALL the time). Funny how men with beards were never on the menu for me...

But apparantly the book didn't do the trick in terms of filling our knowledge gap, because - and I remember this very clearly - one evening mum decided, at bath time, to go through the whole thing again with my sister and I. (Perhaps she was getting fed-up of fielding questions in supermarkets, who knows?).

She told us more or less the same thing the book had, but coming from her rather than being in print, it had more impact. Or so she thought.

"Right" she said when she had finished. "Do you understand? Have you got any questions?"

"Yes" replied my 7 year old sister. "I have a question."

Can't you just imagine my mother's heart sinking? "Yes?" she said.

"I would like to know...." began my sister, spinning it out in the style of radio host announcing a competition winner.

"Yes?" said my mother, encouragingly, no doubt thinking in the same way I did this morning, I must tread carefully here, one mis-step could lead to all kinds of trouble...

"I would like to know... how do gliders stay up in the air?"

Breathing a sigh of relief, my mother said "Ask your father."


Expatmum 1 February 2008 at 21:47  

The experts tell you not to give more information than they ask for, so you could cop out like I used to and say, "From a mummy's tummy". Then when they say "How did they get in there?", you say, "Well they start out as tiny seeds". That keeps them happy for a while. My daughter at 8, then figured out that there had to be another element otherwise every woman would be walking around pregnant. I think I bought a book and read it with her at that point, so that she'd be looking at the book and not my scarlet face!

elizabethm 1 February 2008 at 22:17  

excellent advice from epm above. I found diversion tactics like your icecream worked for years. they know now of course (in their twenties now). Think I drip fed them information over years so that the whole thing became quite boring. Like the glider story!

Potty Mummy 1 February 2008 at 23:40  

Hi EPM, actually, something like your comment about seeds (though in our case, eggs), was pretty much what I used. Not sure how it will hold up to scrutiny though; if I make it until he's 8 I will count myself lucky!

Hi Elizabeth; ice cream will do it for while, I think. Especially if it's chocolate...

Omega Mum 2 February 2008 at 12:50  

You have an award waiting for you. Bad Mother's Club did something on the whole issue of Sex Education a while back....

aims 2 February 2008 at 16:53  

I don't know where I came from - in our house - Baptists did not have sex...

Potty Mummy 2 February 2008 at 19:58  

Thankyou OM, for both the award and the pointer!

Aims, not sure what's worse: being a Baptist and not having it, or being Roman Catholic, having it, and then feeling guilty about it...

Iota 2 February 2008 at 23:19  

"Ice cream will do it"? Really. I thought you had to do the whole sex thing to get a baby. Wish I'd known. Oh... I see... diversion tactics...

Funny thing is, you field these questions when they're little, and hope they won't come up with them too often. Then they get to a stage where you worry about them hearing it all first from some misinformed schoolfriend, so you find it is you who is trying to sneak the subject into conversations, so that you can make sure they get it from you first. And to make sure that you have the conversations in private not a supermarket.

It all gets more complicated too, like "who decides how many babies you have?", "how do you make sure you have the right number?", "what does gay mean?" etc

Potty Mummy 3 February 2008 at 13:20  

Come on Iota,surely you remember those Haagen Dazs ads from the early 90's. Ice cream = sex. Apparantly. (BTW, did you know that in Finnish, Haagen Dazs means 'public toilet'? Yet another bit of trivia from the sink of useless information in my brain - and one that I'm not even sure is true but it's one hell of a modern myth...)

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