Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Birds & Bees & Almonds, Oh My!

So last year Levi came home from school and said, "Oh! Mom, Mrs. Riley told me to ask you a question."

"Okay, shoot!"

"How does the DNA get from the dad to the mom?"

Deer in the headlights. Heart rate speeding up. I am so not ready for this! He's only 8! Why am I freaking out about this? I've told countless kids about sex in youth groups, but those were not my children, the same children who I get to see the joy on their faces on Christmas morning when they see what Santa brought them. Somehow knowing about sex and believing in Santa do not seem to go hand in hand.

But then God had pity on me, and Joey came into the room, screaming his head off, with a scraped knee. Thank you God for scraped knees! I took Joey to the bathroom to doctor up his boo-boo, but Levi followed me in there, waiting expectantly for the answer, so I stalled. "Ummm. What IS DNA?"

"You don't know what DNA is?"

"Well, yeah, I just want to see if YOU do."

So, he gave me some explanation, and I finally punted, "Well, it is really very complicated, and I'll have to think about how to explain it and get back to you."

And he never asked me about it again, and I was fine with that. Then, Dr. Leman came to our church, and he was talking about telling your kids about sex, and he said 8-10 year olds think about sex a lot! What? How can they think about it if they don't know what it is? And, he goes on to add, if you haven't told them by the time they're 8, you're behind! I wanted to put my fingers in my ears and say, "La la la la, I can't hear you!" But I reluctantly faced facts, and I bought his book, "The Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey to your Kids about Sex." And basically, it said you should just be low-key, no stress, no squirmy discomfort when you talk to your kids. Yeah, sure. He called it "Kitchen Table Sex Ed." Part of that sounded good - no Big Talk, where you are both uncomfortable, and when it is done, you can take a deep breath, and wipe that off your list of things to do. No, instead it should be a natural progression, where you and your kids are comfortable talking about all things, and they know they can come to you to ask you any questions they have.

That sounds great! In theory. He said you should use every day objects that you have around the house to illustrate your impromptu talks. For example, whole almonds are about the exact size and shape of ovaries. Hmmm...yes, I can just imagine this conversation. "You know, kids, while I'm eating these almonds, I just can't help but think of...well, ovaries." Yeah, that's a natural conversation that happens every day at our house! On the upside, it could give me some much-coveted time alone - the next time my kids see me reaching for a banana, their eyes would widen with horror, and they would flee the room!

So, one day, I just decided to bite the bullet, and give it a go. Levi & I were eating at Chili's alone, and I brought up his question.
"Levi, do you remember when you asked me how the DNA got from the dad to the mom, and I never answered it?"
"Well, it's when they have sex. Do you know what that is?" At this point I am having to seriously fight back the urge to giggle like a junior high boy. What is wrong with me?
"Yeah. I looked it up in the dictionary."
Okay, so he has been thinking about it! "Well, that's good. Do you want me to explain anything about it or do you have any questions about it?"
Thank God! "Okay, great! Well, if you ever do, you can ask me or dad anytime you want." And we will try not to faint or giggle like a little boy. And we went on to order our food, and I felt good that the ice had been broken.

Fast forward a few weeks later, and we are sitting in church, and Steve is preaching a sermon about Gomer, the prostitute. I knew it was coming. Levi leans over and whispers, "What's a prostitute, Mom?"

Oh, dear God! Okay, breathe, breathe, kitchen table sex-ed, I can do this. "It's when people have sex for money."

"Have sex for money, have sex for money," he kept repeating, like he was trying to figure it all out in his head. Just kill me now. And I know this child, I guarantee you he is wondering if this might be a good way to earn that extra money he's always needing. "What is sex again?"
"Remember it's what you looked up in the dictionary."
"I know, but I can't remember now what it was."
Of course you can't! Okay, kitchen table sex ed is one thing, but church pew sex ed is entirely different. I finally said, "We'll have to talk about this at home." And dad can explain it to you since he's the one who's preaching a sermon about a prostitute!

Okay, so here's my thing about Kitchen Table Sex-Ed. The problem is, our kitchen table is full. With kids younger than Levi. Joey is already fascinated with his penis. It's nothing at all for him to just announce proudly to a complete stranger, "I have a penis! Do you have a penis?" Let me tell you, there is nothing that breaks the ice with a total stranger quite like moving past all the normal social niceties right to talking about your private parts. Yep, you're instantly bonded. Taking a 3 year old out in public is not for the faint of heart. So, I'm just thinking that he does not need to be armed with any more info than he already has.

And, yet the awkward "sex talk" is something I would be fine to forego. I remember my mom reading a book to me, complete with pictures when I was probably a little younger than Levi. And what did I do? Run right over to the next-door neighbor to tell her this new and shocking news. It began with, "You are NOT GOING TO BELIEVE what you have to DO to get a baby!" Of course, she didn't believe me because who would do something so shocking and gross? And yet, I had seen the pictures - I had proof. So, I guess if we did go ahead with the awkward talk, we would only have to tell Levi, and he would tell Sam, who would tell the younger ones with great relish and most likely everyone else he knows too. I don't think I'm ready for that. So, for now, I guess we just go on with the waiting. Until the next question comes up. Please don't let it be at church.


  1. "You know, kids, while I'm eating these almonds, I just can't help but think of...well, ovaries."

    You should be published. Thats all I have to say about that.

  2. Kacey sent me your blog and I am DYING from laughter! You have a beautiful (and hilarious) family. -Christel

  3. Just visiting from Dandy's blog. I can see why she adores your stories. I have a two year old girl and a four year old boy who loves to talk about his penis and heaven help me when we have the birds and bees talk! Almonds may be a great place to start!

  4. I feel your pain....we had to have the "talk" with Gage last year. I couldn't believe that we were having to talk about sex with our seven year old. He had way too many questions about my pregnancy that could not be diverted. The best part was after we had Aiden...Gage overheard someone ask me if I had to have any stitches when Aiden was born. When I replied yes, he was immediately interested and demanded to see them. He was so disappointed when I told him no... lol

  5. I saw some health report that you should teach your sons to do self-exams early on their testicles, checking for lumps, etc. I showed one of the boys and soon after that he was staying with his grandparents. After his bath, his grandad was helping him dry off and he said "oh wait, I need to check my testicles" "Do you wanna check yours?" I think that was the last time GranJ helped with bathtime. I also had to clarify-okay, you don't have to check them daily or everytime you think about it. Believe me, tell one, they'll tell another :)

  6. That is hysterical! I love it. How did Steve field the prostitute questions after church?