Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Birds and Bees- Part 1

I was wondering when he would start putting the pieces together. I knew we were just biding time. Here I was five months pregnant, and except for a brief conversation about how a sperm and an egg meet to form a baby-there were no questions. In fact, we made it through both of my sister’s pregnancies and births a year ago with no deep questions from my son. This coming from the boy who needs to know how the toaster works, what causes hurricanes, how you wire a light fixture, why God makes things die, and begs “please just explain it to me mom,” when I say that something is too complicated for a second grader to understand. Up until now I have managed to give him the facts of “the facts of life,” without really going into the details of those facts. My mother always said, “Answer their questions and nothing more. Most kids are looking for a specific answer and not the whole process of things.” She loves to remind me that in the middle of her explaining the birds and the bees to me, I looked up at her and asked for a peanut butter sandwich.

So, I have tried to answer the specific questions that my son has asked. It only takes one egg and one sperm to make a baby. There are thousands of other sperm that die off, but one lucky one gets in and fertilizes the egg and that starts the baby. He seemed content with this, especially since we also had 11x14 glossy colored pictures to look at of a sperm breaking through a little egg. It's almost like Star Wars, he said. Yep, I answered, pretty close.

I even mused with my husband the other night, “Aren’t you at all surprised that our son hasn’t asked us how this baby got inside me?” I’m not sure the thought really occurred to him...but after a moment he conceded that it was a bit shocking. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise to me, when after dinner one evening, my son hit me with the question while still chewing on the last of his last pierogies.

“So mom, after you have your first baby, what happens to all those little mechanical pieces if they die?”
“What mechanical pieces?” I ask, wondering if this has anything to do with Star Wars.
“You said that it only takes one of those little things…”
“Sperm?”
“Yeah, those, you said it only takes one to go into that ball..”
“Egg.”
“Yeah, well, if it only takes one what happens to all the other little sperm?”
“Well, they die off inside the mother’s body.”
“Well, then if they die off, how do women have other babies after they have the first one?”

Aha. Here it was. The pieces were starting to come together. Where was my husband? Why am I always alone when I’m hit with the sex questions?

“Well,” I answer, trying to traverse this ground carefully, not wanting to reveal too much too soon and yet still answer his question, “When those die off, then… mommies get more a little later, and then those die off and then we get more, kind of like that.” I turned around in the kitchen and continued to put away the dinner dishes, (cringing) hoping this explanation would stick without any further examination on his part. No luck.

“So, are you going to have a baby every year?”
“No,” I almost shout. Are you kidding?
“So, how do mommies get more in them? And why don’t they have babies every year? You’re confusing me,” he said tritely.

I was pretty sure that I was confusing him. In fact, I was trying to confuse him a little, because I’m not really sure that he’s ready to know all the finer details of how babies are made. In reality, I’m not ready for him to know the finer details. And now not only do I need to explain the birds and the bees, but also the finer points of how one controls how many pregnancies they have. It’s a lot to order, especially since there are some things I’m still figuring out at 34.

“Don’t you want a peanut butter sandwich or something?” I ask him. He looked at me like I had lost my mind; clearly we had just finished dinner. “Drink your milk and go find your father,” I told him.

Thankfully, he busied himself with homework, legos and reading about sharks for the rest of the evening—things a second grader is supposed to be concerned with—so the questions were put aside. I know they aren’t forgotten. Those questions will surface again, probably when my husband isn’t around and I’ll be faced with a new one this time; “Why didn’t you ever tell me the answer the last time I asked about how those mechanical things get inside the mommies?” Sigh.

1 comment:

beebee said...

lol. I can almost hear you half-shout "NO!"