My child is 7. He actually pays attention to the things he hears and sees and asks A LOT of questions. Recently we gave up cable TV. We use a Roku box to access a variety of online content, like Netflix and Amazon Prime. One day when he had watched all of the Big Time Rush there was to watch in the history of the internet, we began to surf around looking for something less mindless and I landed on a Discovery Channel show called Mammals, hosted by Sir David Attenborough.
Of course the show had to discuss the mating and reproductive habits of all of the mammals. Oh look, there is a water buffalo giving birth. Look at how that kangaroo’s baby has to crawl up into the pouch when it looks like nothing more than a large maggot.
Mommy, what does mating mean?
Mommy, what does going into heat mean?
Sir David has a lot to answer for. I am wondering if he is available to have the birds and the bees talk with Cooper because we are dancing around the edges of the conversation regularly now.
Yesterday we were on our way to ice skating lessons, and as usual I had NPR on the radio. It was a TED talk broadcast, and it happened to be performed by a Mali woman who was describing the rite of passage she had to endure. As I was driving I was only half paying attention to the radio, but all of a sudden I realized she was about to describe, in detail, female circumcision. CLICK and now we are listening to 92.5 our local independent music station.
Mommy, was that story over? Why did you change the station?
Yes, the story was over.
Don’t lie mommy. It wasn’t over. She was about to have a baby.
Really? What makes you say that?
She was talking about her leg and another woman opening up something and that usually means having a baby.
I think you are right. Hey, what was your favorite animal at the zoo today? Mine was the snow leopard. And the bats. Did you know that bats can eat three times their body weight in insects a night, and that some plants are only pollinated by bats? They wouldn’t exist at all if it were not for bats that feed on the nectar at night. And some bats help plants grow by eating their seeds, and then pooping out the seeds somewhere else in the forest. HA. I said POOP. (An endless supply of facts and statistics and a finely honed sense of what is funny to a 7 year old boy can come in VERY HANDY when trying to change the subject.)
He knows I had a cesarean section to deliver him, and that this involved cutting my belly open to deliver him. Apparently that was the only point of reference he had for interpreting what she was saying, and I am OK WITH THAT RIGHT NOW. He knows that women have eggs inside them that become babies, but he has no idea the mechanics of how that egg becomes a human being. And I AM OK WITH THAT RIGHT NOW.
But I know that it won’t be long before someone has to have The Conversation with him. Someone at school is going to say something, and rather than Cooper running around with a bunch of misinformation in his head about how babies are made, one of his parents is going to have to man up and explain it. I just wish it could wait a little longer. I remember very clearly having this conversation with my mother. I was in 3rd grade. I have no idea how horrifying it was for her to have it. I am sure once she reads this she will let me know. Hi MOM! While I am enjoying having a child who is older and more in charge of himself, I am not at all prepared for him to enter into the phase of life where there are hormones and bodies doing things and all that comes after this conversation.
But it is inevitable. I take seriously my job as his mother to deliver him to this world as a person who is well educated, well trained, respectful and caring. He needs to understand how things work, what is acceptable behavior and what will get him grounded for life even if he is 30 when it happens. So the conversation will happen eventually. I wonder if Sir David has an email address…