whoever you want to be…

So where do babies come from?

From Babette Cole’s brilliant Mummy Laid An Egg

One of my friends has recently announced she is pregnant. It’s her third baby and her two children are thrilled and couldn’t wait to tell their friends, which include my children. It has, of course, prompted both of mine to say ‘can we have a new baby?’ No, no you can’t. It has also prompted ‘how did she know she was having a baby?’ and ‘how did it get in her tummy?’ Gah! I hate those questions. Not because I’m embarrassed about answering them but because I genuinely don’t know what to say. They are 8 and 5 and I don’t want to scare them (or freak them out) but I don’t want to lie. The concept of ‘mummy and daddy having a special cuddle’ makes me feel weird never mind them.

My mum was great at answering all my many, many questions when I was growing up. She didn’t flinch when I asked about masturbation, prostitutes or lesbians and I can remember getting a book from her when I was about 9 about the adventures of a sperm and how he helped to create a baby. I seem to vaguely remember the sperm wearing a top hat and the egg wearing a veil but I may have made that up. I also remember watching a video in school when I was 12 about periods where we were told ‘it’s ok to wash your hair and have a bath’ – up until that point it had never occurred to me that it wouldn’t be fine but that certainly set me worrying. I don’t want them to be clueless about ‘that sort of stuff’ but how much is too much? If I was 9 when I got that book then that’s any time in the next year for my son and he just seems so young!

How on earth do you explain periods without terrifying them? They were horrified enough when they found out not all babies came of their mummy’s tummy like they did. ‘Out of where?!’ said Ben. Yes, my feelings exactly. So far I’ve glazed over the subject a bit. Muttered about seeds and eggs but if I don’t tell them one of their friends will and I’d rather they found out the truth from me. I suppose it’s time to look for a book. Or ask my mum to explain it to them!

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8 comments on “So where do babies come from?

  1. Keris
    October 2, 2012

    Someone told me the other day that her doctor had advised her to tell children this stuff the earlier the better, while they’re too young to think that it’s weird or disgusting or whatever.

    I’ve gone that route with Harry and Joe, I must admit. Since Harry’s always following me to the loo, he asked about periods and I just told him in as straightforward a way as I could manage. Something like “women bleed every month to keep their insides clean in case they want to have a baby.” Which, um, was the best I could come up with on short notice. He said, “I don’t want to bleed!” which led, inevitably, to the whole “women don’t have ‘weasels'” discussion. Again.

    (Oh and I leave the paraphernalia out in the bathroom, so it’s not a hidden thing. Harry picked up a wrapped tampon the other day and said, “Is this a sweet?” I laughed and said, “No. You know, it’s a thing for my periods” and he just said, “Oh yeah” and put it back down.)

    The sex question came up (fnar) in the queue at M&S (of course). “I know you and Daddy *made* Joe, but what I want to know is HOW?!” I actually had to go with “We’ll talk about it at home” (as everyone in the queue giggled), but I bought Mummy Laid An Egg and he seemed satisfied with that, despite saying it was “ridiculous”. But, you know, it really is.

    I think it’s often our own baggage that stops us explaining stuff to kids. I try to just answer the question they’ve asked – oh and make sure you understand what they’re actually asking, I’ve made that mistake before – as simply as possible (although sometimes I waffle on until they completely lose interest). And then brace yourself for further embarrassing questions. Or just say “I’ll get you a book.” 😀

  2. Veggyfan
    October 2, 2012

    I think you’re right about the whole baggage thing. I wasn’t embarrassed asking my mum things when I was little but as I got older I was more horrified by the concept. (I remember my dad shaking Phil’s hand and saying ‘well done’ when we told them I was pregnant and he had to fight the urge to say ‘I’ve never touched your daughter!’

    • Keris
      October 2, 2012

      Haha! That’s brilliant. You should have said, “It wasn’t *that* well done…”

      I was just thinking, why would children be any more horrified about blood coming out of your flue than ‘potatoes’ in your ears or snot from your nose? There’s the fact that it’s blood, I suppose, rather than some random “stuff”, but apart from that…

  3. Veggyfan
    October 2, 2012

    I think it is the fact that it’s blood which is usually associated with pain so you don’t want to scare them. I don’t remember being too worried about periods. It was a bit of a competition really to see who would start first! I also got out of dance the first time I started so – result!

    • Keris
      October 2, 2012

      Yes, but Harry said, “Does it hurt?” I said, “No.” And that was that.

      I started at 10 and I was the first out of my friends (I think), but, yes, it was a badge of honour sort of thing, wasn’t it? The novelty’s rather worn off now though… (30 years! Sheesh!)

  4. Claire
    October 2, 2012

    About a year ago I had to explain to Martha, aged 8, how her friend got into his mummy’s tummy when he has two mummys. I explained that it was a very kind man that provided the sperm and then it was mixed together in a dish with his mummy’s egg and put in her tummy through her vagina with a syringe. She was happy with that explanation.

  5. Kate
    October 2, 2012

    My mother sat me down with the “Where Did I Come From?” book when I was very little. Think she wanted to pre-empt any questions… I had no curiousity, didn’t care at all, had never even considered it.

  6. jchevais
    October 4, 2012

    I remember a conversation with my daughter when she was about 8, where she talked about kissing a boy. I honestly can’t remember what I said, but in the end, she decided that shaking hands was safer.

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