I remember "the talk" well. I was 8 and I was in the backseat riding home with my mom and dad from church. I remember asking how it was possible for my best friend to exist since her mom wasn't married to her dad. Wasn't that... somehow... wrong? My mother brought me home and promptly sat me down with a book that showed a baby growing inside of a woman's womb and gave me a lot of details that I didn't feel ready to hear. You know, "when a man and a woman love each other very much" blah blah blah. I didn't get it. All I'd wanted to know was why someone who wasn't married (not only was she not married but we'd never laid eyes on a father and frankly, neither had her daughter) would be allowed to have a baby. Clearly if this dude wasn't around there could not have been too much "love" that brought my friend into the world. None of this made sense. I didn't need to know all of the technical sex stuff. That was all WAY over my head and, well, gross.
So, there I was. Knowing more about sex than my 8 year old self wanted to know and still not having my moral/religious question answered. But if I asked my question again, there was no telling what I might have to hear so I kept quiet.
Perhaps my experience with "the talk" was what sparked my response to my own 8 year old's recent question. We were watching an episode of "Community" in which one of the main characters, Shirley, was pregnant. Only she wasn't sure of the father. She may have gotten drunk at a Halloween party and did the horizontal mambo with Chang, the completely insane Spanish teacher turn student turn dean kidnapper (seriously, why are you not watching this show?). She was hoping that the baby didn't belong to him but that, instead, it would come out black like her ex-soon-to-be -future husband Andre, played by none other than Malcolm-Jamal Warner. His question was, "If Shirley and Chang only had sex one time then how did they make a baby?" We've never hidden the topic of sex in our home. Our children are allowed to watch more risque things on television than most of their peers. I've heard my kids talk about sex. I've heard their Barbie and Ken dolls talk about sex. But I refused to give them more information about what sex actually was until the question was asked. Because I didn't want to freak them the hell out like I had been freaked out 26 years ago.
When Hunter asked his question, I responded with my own series of questions.
"Well, what do you think that sex is?"
"Okay. What is that exactly?"
"Making out. Kissing."
"Ummm... not exactly. Do you really want to know what sex is and how a baby is made?"
And so I proceeded to explain to him that in order for a baby to be made, a sperm must reach an egg. So that the egg could be fertilized exactly like he's heard about eggs being fertilized in many other biological reproductive scenarios. And we talked about why he might not be able to reproduce due to his own sperm possibly being destroyed during cancer treatments. And we discussed that in most cases, the sperm meets the egg during the act of sex. And that yes, most of the time sex is also making love and that there is usually kissing involved but not always. The actual sex was something else. But that in some situations, babies are not made that way. Babies are always made with a sperm and egg but a lot of times a doctor gets involved because perhaps a couple is having a hard time making a baby the natural way. Or a single woman would like to be a mother and she doesn't have a father picked out. Or two men or two women would like to raise a baby together ("Like on 'The New Normal' he responded! He's not really been watching that... he's just seen a bit about it). Or maybe there is a couple of people who love one another but the mommy cannot grow a baby in her womb so they find a lady to carry their baby for them. I made it clear that these were all perfectly viable options for making a baby. That he might choose to make a baby with his partner in one of these ways one day.
He said he felt weird knowing all of that information... being "in the know". He's not said anything about it since that night. No mention of the technicalities of how it all works. I guess he's not traumatized. I hope that I handled the situation well and that he's informed with a completely open mind.
And for the record, Shirley's baby came out black and it's entirely possible that she and Chang never actually did anything together that might allow a baby to be made. He may have made it all up. He's that insane. Seriously, people, why are you not watching this show?
So, have you had to have "the talk" yet with your children? How did that go?
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