I had grand visions of being an open, honest, and straight-forward purveyor of information when it came time to have The Talk with my kids. In the past, I have been, in an age-appropriate way...we call body parts by their anatomical names, they know *how* babies are born, and they know that babies develop in a mother's uterus from an egg. I have been open, I have been honest, and I have been straight-forward in answering their questions....I just haven't ever provided information beyond the requisite answers to their wondering minds. I hadn't ever needed to.
Until last week.
We had just spent the morning gazing upon the beauty and majesty of the Wild Horses of North Carolina. We had driven "up the beach" in hopes of finding them, but with the firm expectations that Wild Horses Are Nearly Impossible To Find. Imagine our delight when we spotted a dozen horses in the dunes overlooking the beach three minutes into our drive!
We were driving back to our beach house, excited over our Horse Discovery, happy, together...when Max's question opened the door to the most ineloquent conversation I've ever had with my children.
Max: So do some people never get married?
Me: Sure. Lots of people don't get married....for lots of different reasons. Getting married is a choice.
Max: Awww! I hope I get married!
Evan: Some people don't get married?! But don't they want CHILDREN?!
Me: Well, some people don't. Even some married people don't want to have children. And you don't need to get married to have children. Some people want to start their family even though they haven't found the person they want to marry...so they have a child.
Evan: But how...?
Max: Oh! I know! Maybe they can adopt a baby, like when two boys get married! One boy or one girl can adopt a baby all by themself!
Me: Well, yeah, but a man or a woman, not a boy or a girl...you have to be an adult who can take care of a baby to adopt a baby.
Me (continuing, unnecessarily...for some reason, which I will shortly regret): But you can become a parent without adopting, too. Like my friend Jess: she was ready to become a mommy so she chose to have a baby. She had her baby in her belly like I had each of you.
Evan: Waaaaaiittt...you can choose to have a baby? I thought a baby started to grow in a mommy's tummy when she was married and ready to start her family....
Me (recalling an answer I had provided several years ago, when a younger Evan watched my belly swell with his growing baby sister): Um, yes, of course a woman can choose whether or not to have a baby....
Evan: But HOW? HOW does the lady choose?!
Sam (glancing at me from the driver's seat, with a "You started it, you get to finish it" smile on his face)
Me: Well, you know that a baby grows from an egg that is already in the mommy's body.
Evan: Yeah, and I know it's not in her TUMMY. It's not like she swallows a chicken egg or something.
Me: Right. The egg starts to grow in her uterus. But it doesn't start to grow into a baby until it's...well, it's...fertilized.
Evan: FERTILIZED? Like with a fertilizer?! I don't think so...
He is seriously starting to think I'm full of shit.
And I am seriously starting to notice how closely Max is listening to this whole conversation. I want to be open and honest, but he's only five. I really don't need Max to be the Knower Of All Things at his Kindergarten snack table in a few weeks....though I'm sure his teacher would get a kick out of hearing all of this...
So I toe the line....like a hippopotamus in a tutu, I pretend to be graceful and elegant, but I know I look ridiculous...
Me: Well, no, not with a fertilizer...but with sperm. You need sperm and an egg. That's how a baby grows. And the mom gets to choose when to introduce the sperm to the egg. And that's that.
Evan: Sperm?! What? ...and Where? ...and How?
Sam (to me, gleefully): I'm going to stop for gas, good luck with this!
Me: thespermcomesfromthedaddyevenifthereisn'tadaddymarriedtothemommy WHO WANTS TO HELP DADDY PUMP THE GAS?!
These conversations are always so much easier in my mind....