So for a while now, perhaps two years or so, we have been talking to my soon-to-be 4-year-old about pregnant mommies having "babies in their tummies." Then when a good friend had a baby almost 6 months ago, my son said, "So, mommy, how does the baby come OUT?" That turned into a light discussion of labor and delivery for the younger set, with some eventual toddler translation: "She pooped the baby out?!!!"
I never really thought much about these discussions and the possibilities of them expanding and frankly, in our house, we try to be upfront about names for body parts (using "penis" and "vagina"). My 2.5-year-old daughter even likes to pretend to breastfeed her dolls, carries them in a toddler-sized doll sling I bought her, and talks about "how she has boobies like mommy" (to which I totally chuckle).
About a month ago, my son asked, completely out of the blue, "Mommy, how do babies get INSIDE a mommy's tummy?" I was like "Duh...duh....um....ah..." for about three seconds, and since we were in public and I was caught off guard (this happened a few days later, also in public) I stammered, "We will talk about that when we get home." Luckily, I thought, this genius-at-reminding-mom-about-every-tiny-thing totally forgot to follow up with me, so I thought the convo was closed for a while.
Of course not. After the third time he asked, I told my husband that I think we needed to have a unified answer and have it ready to go. I searched "talking to toddlers about sex" online, and found this incredible article on Psychology Today's website that said the following: even if you think it's way to early to talk to a kindergartner about the birds and the bees, studies show kids are getting more sexually active (egads!) in middle school, which would only be 5-7 years down the road. Sure, my kid is 4 -- and my hubby was a tad freaking out about the prospect of a "sex talk" -- but I personally agree that it's never too young to talk to kids about their bodies.
The article stressed some great talking points and I made mental notes. I also talked about it with some mom friends. ("I tell my kids that mommies and daddies wrestle in their beds at night and a few months later a baby arrives," "God makes all babies," "Daddy and mommy kiss and do some other things and then they make a baby," "My mom told me exactly what happens and that was that." My friends had some great ideas!) I even asked my sister, "What was that book Mom read to us about sex?" (I remember it having descriptive cartoons, and my mom confirmed we were six and seven years old when she did the whole sex-talk with us.) I looked at some picture books online, and still plan to order one.
Then, just this week, my son popped it out again while we were in the car: "Mom, how do babies get INSIDE a mommy's tummy?" And, I don't think I have ever had such instantaneous anxiety over a decision with my kids! I think the hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I swear I was trying to remember what me and my husband chatted about, what the article mentioned, and whether or not whatever I told him was going to eff-up my kid's perspective on anatomy, love, babies -- the whole shebang.
I just took a deep breath and said, "Well, first of all, you should never decide to have a baby unless you are very, very in love with someone. And you should not make a baby until you are ready to take care of a baby." (I swear I said these prefacing remarks! My son was probably like "WTF is this heady stuff, Mom?"). Then, I said, "And when a mommy and a daddy decide to have a baby, the daddy sticks his penis in the mommy's vagina, and they do some things in bed, and then the mommy gets pregnant, and a baby comes out a few months later." I held my breath -- totally freaking (like my husband would've, but less, LOL) and was waiting for the "What do you mean?" or "He does WHAT??"
Instead, my son goes. "Oh, I didn't know that's how it happens. Hmph. (Pause for a few seconds) Can we go get ice cream?"
Of course he did. Because he is FOUR. Still, I am happy with what I said, after all. And I'm happy with how he 'took it,' because even if he didn't really internalize what I said fully, at least I got the dialogue started; maybe he forgets, or asks us again, or tells his sister how babies are made. The awkward, anxiety-filled-first-'sex-talk' is over.
And then we got ice cream.