Not that my kids haven’t asked me about the birds and the bees before. When my twins were three, they wanted to know how they got in my belly and how they got out. “What were we before we were born?” they asked.
My husband and I didn’t want to lie. But neither did we think our three year-olds were ready to know all about the reproductive cycle.
I told them a version of the truth: “Before you were born you were ingredients.” Then I told them a half-truth: “Then Mommy and Daddy’s ingredients mixed together in my tummy (insert hula hoop gesture here) and you grew until you came out. Anyone want an ice cream?”
Mission accomplished. Sex talk over. They were three; they were easily distracted; and that was truth enough. But as they got older, things got trickier.
By the time they were five, they needed more information. I opted for more edited truth. (How’s that for some euphemistic language!?)
“Mommies have eggs. Like chickens. And Daddies have sperm. Those were the ingredients you were made of.” I explained “In fact, honey, you were born with all of your eggs. They’re in your tummy right now.”
“I have lots of eggs in my tummy.” my daughter said. “I had egg salad for lunch!”
Mission accomplished again. Sex talk over.
But this summer, I fear, my half-truths and edited truths, distractions and downright evasions may have to come to an end. My twins are eight, my friend is about to drop another one, and their inquiring minds want to know: how did that baby get in there, and how is it gonna get out?
I do believe in telling my kids the truth. Honesty is the best policy. Except when it comes to sex. I am not ready to be honest with my kids about sex. So I told them a truth — not the truth. I said “You really don’t want to know.”
“We do! We do!” they protested in unison.
“Trust me. You don’t”
“Why not?” asked my son.
“Because it’s very grown up information, and when you’re more grown up, I’ll tell you.”
“But I’m big now!” said my daughter. “Why can’t you tell me now?”
“I told you. You don’t want to know.”
“Why not?” repeated my son
“Well, remember when we watched that movie National Velvet and the horse was being born?”
Their eyes lit up with recognition. They saw with that part of the filly that colt was coming out of, and they didn’t like it one bit.
“Oh. You’re right. We don’t want to know.”
Mission accomplished. Honesty maintained. Innocence preserved.
But somehow, I don’t think the sex talk is over yet.