Posted in Family, Today's File

Sex-Ed in a nutshell: “Huh.THAT’s kinda gross.”

“Let me tell ya ’bout the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees..”

~from that song on the “hits of the 60s” cassette my parents used to play in the car

No, I really don't shield their ears--I answer their questions. (photo was taken at a Monster Truck Rally on her 6th & her brother's 9th birthday... LOUD, but she loved it.)

Even as a toddler, my son Christian was always  a detail-oriented, literal-minded little guy.  He was the kind of two-year-old who removed his socks during dinner, asked where he should put them, and when I suggested, “on the chair behind you,” looked around for another piece of furniture.  Entirely in earnest (he wasn’t even messing with me), he pointed out, “There ISN’T another chair behind me.”  Fine, fine–behind you on the chair, then.

I actually had to explain to him about humor and teasing, because he took absolutely everything so literally, and had to learn to question whether someone might be kidding with him.

I also didn’t dare “do Santa” with him–having a whole fictional story “pulled over on him” would have messed with his head.  (Besides which, I’m not sure I could have invented quickly enough to keep up with the inevitable questions he’d have fired at me, for which I wouldn’t have prepared sufficient back-story.  Raising him would have been training enough for novel-writing, if I’d had the guts to attempt the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy…)

Christian is also (and always has been) a focused and diligent inquirer when he’s in pursuit of any line of questioning–and I’ve always figured that if he’s old enough to ask, he’s old enough to get an (honest) answer.  I’d start with “generalized” information, but if Mr. Detail continued with follow-up questions, I’d keep going.  For that reason–and because he had the obvious question-starter of my pregnant belly to prompt him–we had the full-on birds-and-bees conversation before he was three.

She's pretty fierce--I'm not worried about trouble from boys that DON'T interest her. It's the other ones, if they stop being "gross"...

My youngest daughter, by contrast, has more of a butterfly-mind—even when she has something on her mind, she has other things on her mind…  She also didn’t have an in-house curiosity-creator in the form of Mommy’s-disappearing-lap the way her brother did, so the baby-question didn’t seem to surface in her conscience.  For quite a while she didn’t probe beyond the general explanation I’d offered: “the Daddy plants a seed in the Mommy and it grows into a baby”–and since she didn’t ask more, I didn’t take it any further.

I think she was nearly six when she thought it through and inquired about the mechanics of that transaction… Old enough to ask, old enough to know.  So I explained.

She looked at me like she was waiting for a punch line–but with none forthcoming, she scrunched her nose, shrugged, and delivered her verdict:  “Huh. That’s kinda gross.”

Off she flitted to the next thought–while I murmured a fervent wish in the direction of her departing pigtails: “May you continue to think so for a LONG time!”


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

27 thoughts on “Sex-Ed in a nutshell: “Huh.THAT’s kinda gross.”

    1. I think my daughter would have been fine with Santa–but by the time she joined the family, we already didn’t have Santa as part of the celebration. My mother (who was marvelously creative in her impersonations of all the Holiday Personages) probably finds me greatly disappointing in that regard. ;)


  1. too, too funny – and yes may she think that for a very long time. reminds me a bit of when my oldest son inquired about how babies get out – the short version is, he asked me if it hurt when they took my legs off

    Your son Christian sounds very much like mine (who also happens to be named Christian), a very old soul in a very young mind



    1. Love it! And I can’t say that “removing legs” is any more improbable than what actually goes on… ;)

      Must be something in the name–my Uncle Christian is one of those too, grade-skipping and all. (When our Christian started Kindergarten, the school called to ask if they could move him to 2nd grade, gack! We compromised with a single-grade skip…) My challenge now is finding great reading-material for a guy whose reading-level tests at “post-graduate” but whose INTERESTS are still 10-year-old-boy stuff… My mom always said that raising a gifted kid is more challenging–and my SISTER is brilliant, so I know which one *I* was in that comparison… ;)


      1. me thinks you were/are the brilliant one :)

        very interesting about the name Christian, i think you may be onto something!

        my Christian says he’s a 30 year old mind trapped in a 16 year old body – fun times ahead my friend ;)


  2. I truly think the unvarnished truth can be quite a sex ed lesson! I’ll never forget my teenage niece, upon hearing my rendition of what REALLY happens when romance occurs, replied that THAT was disgusting and she thought she’d skip it. I still laugh at the memory of that conversation. :-)

    Your son sounds wonderful, somewhat like mine. I think I was more like your daughter though. :-)


  3. Love it! My mother was always very honest about everything, and I plan to be the same way with my kids. Like you said — if they’re old enough to ask, they deserve not to be BS’d.

    And your daughter kicks some butt. That picture of her doing martial arts makes me wish I’d done that as a kid.


  4. This reminded me of a story that is probably going to “gross” some people out, but I think you will appreciate it. When Ralphie was 7, we went to a Bay to Breakers race in San Francisco. There is a lot of nudity in the race (and yes, it is gross!). Bush was president at the time, and there was a naked woman holding a sign that said, “No more Bush” getting a lot of attention. Ralphie wanted to know why everyone was taking pictures of her sign. I really didn’t want to explain it.

    He continued with the question throughout the race and all the way home. I started worrying that he was going to ask a teacher or some other parent, so I finally explained why the sign was so funny.

    His seven year old response, “I’d hate to see the guy with the No more Dick Cheney sign.”

    Old enough to ask, old enough to know.


  5. I can’t wait till I have the same conversation with my son. I hope he’s daddy will be there to help me out. Love the post!


  6. What us Mom’s go through! That birds and the bees talk is a tricky thing. Funny when I got some little books for that topic for the kids, they already learned it all in school! We never skipped the Santa, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy either, but I did have options for those didn’t I? Too bad your writing wasn’t around when I was a young mom raising kids. I do admit to a few times that having the choice of Santa or Mom on a gift, oftentimes “Mom” won out – LOL. Thanks for the good share.


  7. This is just too much! I’m dying to hear more, maybe as the season approaches, about how you tackle the whole no Santa thing without other kids’ parents knocking angrily at your door.


    1. Christian has had an imaginary (no, pardon me–an INVISIBLE) dragon since he was two, so I framed other kids’ Santa-beliefs in terms of his Dragon-imagining. Basically pointed out to him that HE wouldn’t like it if someone made a fuss about dragon being “just pretend,” and that it’s good manners NOT to challenge anyone’s invisible friends… Seemed to work–he never got in any Santa-related scrapes that I know of… ;)


      1. Wow, you have no idea how excited I am to know there are parents out there who manage not to be a slave to Santa for 10 years. Sounds like having such special kids helps though ;)


    1. …Oh & I managed not to get sucked into Santa by saying it was a story like any we got from the library. I said the Santa gifts were ones you didn’t have to thank anyone for – so maybe there is a Santa. So he could believe for a while if he wanted. I said the other kids could believe what they wanted – just like they do about everything else they do differently from us.


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