Friday, April 20, 2012

Not just women's work

strings and things

Every parent waits in abject fear for the dreaded question: "Where do babies come from."

Dreaded because most of us, having gone through the process ourselves, mentally conjure a pretty graphic scene. And let's face it, our kids are pretty squeamish about kissing let alone ... well. ... you know. 

So, today, on the way home from school, after counting how many chickens had been hatched in the schoolhouse incubator -- an annual rite of spring education -- I'm pretty sure that's the question I was asked.

Only it was asked in such a way that made me foolishly think I could handle it ...

"Mom? Who makes babies?"

Oh ... wow! I thought, seizing the opportunity:

"People! People make babies!"

Silence. He was skeptical.

No. Really. They do. People make babies. (As if repeating myself would bolster my case.)

Really? Who made you?

My mother! 

And who made her?

Her mother?

Who was that?

You didn't get to meet her, sadly.

His squinty eyes said: Prove it.

Now I was scared: Did he want pictures, or was it something more esoteric?

The physical answers I could handle. Was he trying to access the spiritual answer? I pictured the argument I had with his sister once over whether in fact "God brought spring," as she had decided from a quilting of random conversations she'd had with our evangelical babysitter.

I didn't relish having another tearful argument over fervent beliefs. 


They grow babies in their bellies. 

His eyes widened. He knew I was right: He'd witnessed the growing bellies of his friends' mommies' at preschool, and the eventual day they appeared at drop-off all flat-tummied and toting a newborn.

"But how do they get in there," he asked.

"Mommies have eggs in their bodies and babies grow from eggs that have been fertilized by daddies."

It's pretty simple, really: girls have eggs and boys have sperm. And when they mix together babies can grow.

I'd gone too far.

So ..... the girls at preschool have eggs, too?

And I have ....

Yes, yes, but don't tell them you know. It could get complicated. Like the we're-going-to-get-some-angry-phone-calls kind of complicated.

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