As a mom, I spend a lot of time answering questions on everything from “boogers are green—why don’t they count as a veggie” to “where do babies come from?” And frankly, I prefer to answer questions about boogers.
I didn’t think I’d be that way. I figured I was a modern mom, unafraid of answering questions about sex—until I had to answer the first one. And that’s when I realized that unless I planned my answers carefully, my son was going to need lots of therapy when he grew up. So I developed this handy list of childhood stages—which hopefully will help you more than it helped me.
Stage One – The Pre-School Years. In this stage, children are just beginning to notice the world around them—and the bodies that populate it. To them, a pregnant woman looks the same as someone who has spent several years chowing down at the local all-you-can-eat buffet.
So the day your three-year old sees his first pregnant woman, he may say something like “Look, her belly is full.” It’s very important not to laugh or otherwise encourage this statement. Because your child isn’t saying, “Look, there’s a baby in there.” He’s saying, “What the heck has she been eating?” And if you laugh, you can expect to hear, “Look, her belly is full” every time your child sees a plus-sized person—pregnant or not. Trust me. I speak from experience.
Stage Two – The Age of Innocence. Around this time, your child may realize that you didn’t purchase his little sister at “Babies R Us.” It’s important at this stage to understand that even though your child may be opening his mind to the wonderful world of phonics—he isn’t necessarily opening it to biology. So when you tell him that the woman down the street has a baby in her tummy, be careful. Otherwise, he may spend many nights having nightmares about the woman who ate the neighborhood kids. Again, I speak from experience.
Stage Three – The “Let’s See If I Can Embarrass Mommy” Years. This occurs in the early elementary school years. At this stage, kids are pacified with generalities like “when a mommy and daddy love each other very much, they have a baby.” That’s because this stage isn’t about them, it’s about you. Specifically, it’s about embarrassing you.
The minute you betray even the tiniest bit of discomfort over The Talk, your child will have a powerful weapon against you. In fact, once a kid is armed with your embarrassment, he will ask where babies come from in every public place you visit, just so all the other adults on the planet can judge your response—and maybe have a giggle at your expense.
Stage Four – The Knowledge Sharing Stage. It may take a village to raise a child—but it only takes one child to spread rampant rumors about the facts of life through the village. Sometimes, these kids are accurate about their facts. Other times, not so much. Take a deep breath, answer truthfully, and unless some questions deal with farm animals, there’s no reason to demand that the parents stop their child from speaking to yours.
Stage Five – The Denial Stage. This is the stage where a child realizes that if all the stuff in Stage Four is true, then the worst possible thing happened. His parents did it. And if he has siblings, his parents did it more than once. The best part about this stage is that once your child realizes this, he stops asking questions. In fact, he may even declare that he is so disgusted by the thought of baby making that he intends to never, ever do it. Don’t get too happy about this—remember, it’s just a stage.
Stage Six – The Teenage Years. I have to say, I don’t want to think about this stage. In this stage, the specifics are finished. You’ve had the talks. They’ve seen the movies in health class. And they’ve seen the movies outside health class. And frankly, at this stage, most parents go into denial. At least, that’s what I plan to do.
Stage Seven – The Passing of the Baton. This is the very best stage of all. Your child is an adult, with kids of his own—despite his Stage Five promises. And he is giving The Talk to his own kids. And making the very same mistakes you did.
It almost makes The Talk worth every painful stage. Almost.Add me to your rss reader | Become a Fan on Facebook!