Lately, Gracie has become very interested in babies. Specifically, where babies come from, how they get there, and how they get out. I think this mostly comes from the fact that she plays with baby dolls all the time, and so she always has babies and mommies on the brain. I think it also comes from us having so many friends right now that are having babies. I am constantly crocheting baby blankets and she is forever asking me which baby they are for.
When she and Bean were smaller, maybe three or four years old, I told them babies came from God whenever they asked. Honestly, Bean has never asked anything else since that age. I don’t think he really cares. But Gracie has been very different. She has been increasingly curious about babies and more and more skeptical of the generic “gift from God” response.
Chris and I try to be straight and honest with our kids, as age appropriate as that allows. We try to not fill them full of too many fluffy answers to important questions. I read one time that when children are young, small questions and concerns are their whole, big world. And if you don’t treat what’s important to them as important to you now, they won’t come to you when they are older with the REAL important things. That concept has really shaped my parenting. I want to be sure my kids can trust that I’ll take their questions seriously and try to provide real, age-appropriate answers, so that they know they can always bring their questions to me.
BUT BABIES?!?!?! Holy cow. I am not ready for this.
I called my sister to get a pep talk yesterday and told her I’d read these things online about explaining “mommy and daddy’s special hug” and “daddy planting the seed,” and we were both so grossed out and freaked out, we could only just yell at each other, “STOP SAYING THOSE THINGS!!!”
“No, ma’am,” she said to me. “You have got to SHUT. THAT. DOWN. Just give her your iPad and tell her to Google it.”
And I totally would. Except, Gracie is asking really important questions and I don’t want her getting her information from somewhere else. So, I half followed my sister’s advice and I took out my iPad and Googled it myself. I used www.babycenter.com because between that website and my mom, I’ve been able to answer every parenting question I’ve ever had.
So tonight, as we were driving to dinner at church, I was sort of prepared when Gracie says to me, “How do babies get inside their mommy’s tummies?”
THIS WAS MY MOMENT!
“Well,” I said, clearing my throat. “The daddies give the mommies a seed and the baby grows from that seed, kind of like a tree.”
There was silence in the car while both Bean and Gracie processed this new information and then Bean says, “How does he know what kind of tree seed to give you? Do you pick out the tree together?”
(I was kind of prepared for this, too, because BabyCenter talked about being ready for follow up questions. Thanks, BabyCenter!)
“No, we don’t pick the seeds. That’s why mommies and daddies are so surprised when babies are born because we never know what they are going to look like.”
Again, there was a little quiet while they both thought about it, and then Gracie says, “What does the seed look like?”
“It’s really, really small. So small you can’t even see it,” I said.
“Well, how does the daddy get the seed inside the mommy?” Gracie asked.
And then it was my turn for silence. Literally, I had no answer at all. None. I wracked my brain for something I’d read, for some metaphor that came to mind, and all I could think was, “I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to talk to them separately about this part BUT WE’RE TOGETHER! WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY NOW, BABYCENTER?!?!?! WHERE’S A GOOD FORUM WHEN YOU NEED ONE?!?!?”
And while I sat in silence with this inner monologue going on, Bean and Gracie started talking between themselves. “Maybe mommies have to eat the seed? Maybe that’s how it gets in their belly?” Gracie asked.
“No,” Bean said to her. “I think that’s what the bellybutton is for. Mom, is that what a bellybutton is for?”
I COULD ANSWER THIS QUESTION! PRAISE BABY JESUS!
“No, that’s not what the bellybutton is for,” I said, but the minute I said it, I knew the follow up that would come and there it was…
“So, then how DOES the seed get inside the mommy’s tummy?” Bean asked.
Finally, I settled on this one thing I remembered reading, and I said, “Well, that’s a really special, private thing between a mommy and a daddy.” And then I held my breath and waited to see if they were satisfied.
After a few minutes of thinking that over, Gracie said, “Oh, okay,” and then she moved on to another topic.
When I told Chris about it later, we both agreed that this was the first time Gracie has been the first to leave that conversation. Normally, that conversation ends with us trying to change the subject when we run out of answers to give, but that time she seemed to finally be happy with this new information.
Oh, my gosh, guys. I am like THE MOST MODEST person you’ll ever meet. EVER. I called my mom to talk about what to say to Gracie and even THAT conversation made me uncomfortable. This is just outside of my comfort zone and wheel house. But, I keep reminding myself that if I don’t have these conversations with them, they’ll have them with SOMEONE. And I’d much rather be the voice of information inside their heads than some kid on a playground.
I’m just so relieved I didn’t have to say “mommy and daddy’s special hug.” I need a drink just thinking about it.