Any parenting book or child development article (which we all read diligently, right? in our spare time?) will tell you that as kids grow, they start to look to their peers for approval and acceptance. Mommy and Daddy, formerly at the top of the pedestal and the sole providers of information and moral guidance, slip down a few notches (in my house, this means we end up somewhere below upstanding-religious-family-man Jeremy Guthrie, but above post-steroid-confession Alex Rodriguez). In real life, this translates to a very real anxiety on my part: that my son will start hearing stuff on the playground. And knowing his 4th-grade-boy crowd as I do, I can assure you that "stuff" will probably be: a) inappropriate and b) incorrect.
So, in the back of my mind, a little voice has been nagging me for a while that it's time to present The Talk (okay, I was planning on starting small: maybe The Intro). But on Saturday night, during a pleasant dinner with some friends, Royce mentioned that Derek had asked him "how a sperm and an egg make a baby." (Note for future: DO NOT casually throw this into conversation when I am sipping my drink.) After I finished gasping and sputtering, I asked what his response had been. "Oh, I told him he'd hear about that in 5th grade Health Class." Then, after I was done calling my husband a big fat CHICKEN for ducking out of this, I mentally moved our Discussion to the top of the to-do list.
The next day at--you guessed it--the good old breakfast table, Derek suddenly asked "Is it true that if you don't want to have a baby, you just don't? And then when you do want to, you can have 2 kids, or 3 kids, or whatever?" I kept my cool (thank goodness I'd already had some coffee) and told him I'd definitely answer his question, when we had a chance to talk "privately." (I delivered this with a wink that only he saw, and he nodded sagely, having totally understood my clever signal.) On the other hand..Riley, who was sitting beside him, leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially, "Is it because Daddy hasn't gone to work yet?" (again, not a good time to be drinking...) Yeah, buddy, Daddy can't handle these delicate topics just yet...
When Derek and I did have some "alone time" later that day, I explained sex (VERY briefly) and becoming pregnant (in COMPLETELY clinical terms). "Oh," he mused, "I thought the man peed out the sperm, the doctor got an egg from the woman, mixed it up in a blender, and she drank it." Oh. Good. Grief. Well, I'm sure glad we cleared that up! Anything else? (I asked with only a small wince, thinking "please let that be all for now.") He replied, "Yeah, can I have my dessert now?" Whew! You betcha! Saved by the cookies!