The Birds & The Bees

When I became pregnant with Animal, Pigpen was 5 and Einstein was nearly 7. Because I had chosen a homebirth, and my boys had expressed an interest in watching their baby brother be born, I knew that some minor sex education was in order. The first thing I asked the boys was, “Do you know where the baby will come out?” Pigpen eyed me curiously. “Your MOUTH?” he asked, increduously. This further convinced me that a few choice details needed to be revealed. The boys learned that Daddy and I had made a baby and that it was growing inside my belly. They learned that boys had penises, girls had vaginas, and the baby was going to be come out of my vagina. At this point, Einstein said “No WAY” in disbelief. “How is a BABY going to get through a little vagina?” I explained that it would stretch enough for the baby to be born. At that point, that was all they really needed to know.

And so when Animal was born, as promised, he came from my vagina. Einstein didn’t seem too impressed, but Pigpen was quite captivated. My midwife lifted the placenta and carefully showed him where Animal had been living for the past 9 months. Pigpen was fascinated.

Back when I was 9 or 10, my mother had given me the Birds and the Bees talk. She had used a book. I remember being curious, but embarassed. I remember finding the book and hiding it under my bed, to sneak peeks at whenever I was alone and away from my parent’s watchful eye. It wasn’t long before my mother found the book, and it disappeared from our library. I felt like a freak, a pervert.

When I was 16, I lost my virginity. I promptly made an appointment with Planned Parenthood, and summoned the courage to call up my ONE friend (male) who had a car and a driver’s license, so that I could have transportation to the clinic. I was proud of myself, feeling responsible for my body and mature. Not long after, my mother found my birth control prescription. It was not a pretty sight, because of course, good Christian girls save themselves for marriage. I felt dirty and guilty. Perhaps that was her intent. Two years later, I would face an unplanned pregnancy that would change my life forever. I have to wonder if a supportive stance on the birth control issue would have caused an entirely different outcome.

Anyway, today Pigpen is nearly 7 and Einstein is 8. When I was in school, Sex Education was taught in 3rd grade. For Einstein, that’s next year. I have strong feelings about “getting to him first.” Not that I don’t entirely trust the public school system to give him good information, but mostly because I want him to have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss things in an environment where he feels safe and comfortable. I also want to educate him myself before his friends start talking, and boys start “ewwwing” about Sex Ed and stop paying attention during the lesson.

I’m a little concerned that Pigpen isn’t exactly ready for the big Birds & the Bees discussion, but I’m more afraid of giving Einstein “The Talk” and having him spill the beans to Pigpen in a secondhand manner that won’t be appropriate. And so, we embark on a new adventure in parenthood.

I scoured the earth for an informative book that was age appropriate and had information that I agreed with. I also needed something fun and interesting, with great illustrations to keep the kids interested. I found such a book, called “It’s So Amazing: A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies and Families by Robie H. Harris. It really is a fantastic book. The first night I pulled out the book, I told the kids that it was time they learned about their bodies. As expected, the first few chapters were met with “EW’s” and giggles, and completely hilarious comments. In one picture, there is a blackboard, in which pictures have been drawn to illustrate that EGG + SPERM = BABY. And so there is a picture of an egg (a circle), a sperm, and a baby. Pigpen points to the picture and says “Look! Egg plus balloon equals a baby!” While I am explaining that in order to make a baby, a sperm must plant itself inside an egg, Pigpen shouts out “EGGPLANT! EGGPLANT!” Halfway through, Einstein remarks, “This is kind of gross, Mom.” After the allotted reading time was up, I tucked them into bed and practically ran into the bathroom to lock myself in and laugh myself into hysterics.

Tonight, they were begging for the book long before bedtime. They just couldn’t wait for more information, little sponges that they are. They interrupted me after every couple of sentences, excitedly bombarding me with questions and giggling at words like “anus” and “testicles”. They whined and begged for more when I put the book away for the night. I promised to read more tomorrow. I was proud. I want them to be informed. I want them to know their own bodies, inside and out. I want them to never feel ashamed about the way their bodies are changing. Just the same, I want them to understand the female body. I want them to grow up to respect the female form, to know how it works and how to treat it gently. I just have to cross my fingers and hope that I’m doing the right thing, in the right way.


1 Response to “The Birds & The Bees”

  1. 1 Nikolai December 5, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    Quite right too, I’m hugely proud of you! Well done!

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