Saturday, May 12, 2012

Birds, bees and puppies

It was a parenting moment that I knew was going to come, but still, I was not quite expecting it. I should have been. The children have always been very interested in nature, animals and life itself. We have recently been reading a lovely book about mammals an animal and asking me to guess what it is, using various definitions of the members of the vertebrate class of life, such as "it drinks it's mother milk" "it comes from an egg", "it has scales" or "it is warm blooded". Being a biologist myself, I am delighted with their fascination and with their precocious knowledge. Though I admit to being shamefully stumped when asked if fish were warm blooded. I'm not sure. If anyone knows, please feel free to enlighten me!

So I shouldn't have been surprised really, when, over spaghetti and hot dogs, Geekyboy asked me "When will Geekydog have a puppy grow in her tummy?". I explained that since we didn't have a boy dog, she wouldn't be having any puppies. Geekygirl then asked in all innocent curiosity "Why do you need a boy dog to make puppies?"

I froze for a second. Then decided that this was a good a time as any for an explanation of the mechanics of procreation. The kids already know how babies get out, but had not shown any curiosity about they got in until now. Having one child of each sex means that they are familiar with basic anatomy at least, and the fact that I was talking about dogs made it more of a biology lesson than a personal story about what mummy and daddy get up to. It went quite well. Geekygirl's eyes widened as I explained but she accepted the concept without shock or horror. I asked her if she had any questions. Being a San Franciscan born and raised the question she came out with was "but what about kids with two mommies? How do they get a baby?". So we ended up covering sperm donation, IVF and regular sex all in one evening!

I hope this is the beginning of many conversations we have with the children about sex and relationships. Though I had all the basic information I needed about my body as I grew up, subjects like desire and sexual exploration were off limits as a dinner time conversation topic in our Catholic household. The rules were clear, we were to remain virginal until we married a nice Catholic boy, preferably after graduating college. There won't be so many external rules for our kids, but I want to instill certain values. Respect yourself. Respect others. Take responsibility for your health and your feelings, and those of your partners. Enjoy yourself while you figure it out. And know that you can come to us with absolutely any question, worry or fear that you may have.