I am very rarely lost for words, in fact some people would tell you I could talk underwater. Then one car trip my nine year old asked me what the ‘birds & bees’ meant and I choked on my mint and turned the radio up.
Preparing to share all the gory details with my son it reminded me of when I had the ‘chat’. Anne Mahoney (aka Mum) sat me down on one of the chairs in the good living room, not the one with the TV in the other one, and she pulled out a book.
My mother had obviously realised that I was a mature and grown up young woman (even aged nine). Well I was, until we turned the page and two people were naked in bed having a ‘special cuddle’. The text underneath the cartoon read ‘Mum and Dad’. I broke into hysterics and couldn’t stop laughing. Mum promptly snapped the book shut declaring I wasn’t ready to know how a baby was made and perhaps I should go to my room. Chat over.
Still to this day Anne and I have never finished ‘the chat’ and like most of you out there based on the number of children my parents have, I like to think they’ve only ever had a ‘special cuddle’ three times.
I had planned to tell my son all on Saturday morning once he’d lined his tummy with breakfast. As a Capricorn I love a plan. But as is often the case with best-made plans they go out the window, in this case the car window. Stuck in Sydney traffic on Friday afternoon my son pushed again for the details, I buckled and the chat began.
I took a deep breath and started to tell him when two people love each other and want to have a baby this was how they make one. The penis gets big… cut to my son in the back seat “Do you mean a stiffy Mum?”… “Yes, but it is also called an ‘erection’.” My back seat driver is now doubled over laughing at the word stiffy and suddenly I get my Anne Mahoney on… “Obviously you’re not old enough to have this chat.” It was only after the 10th promise that he WAS old enough and he wouldn’t laugh anymore that I continued.
I explained that you need an egg and a sperm to make a baby. Once the penis is in the vagina the sperm comes out and heads towards the egg. I said 1000’s of sperm come out of the penis, they look like tadpoles and then race towards the egg. At this point I looked up at my sons face and it was contorted in horror and I realised I needed to explain that last sentence a bit more. As luck would have it I was low on fuel and we were passing a petrol station so I pulled in. I pulled up some videos of the sperm & egg in action on YouTube to show him.
After he seemed to grasp the sperm & egg concept, I thought I was off the hook. But just like sperm there was more to come. “Where did sperm live and are you born with them?” Oh God I don’t know… “I think sperm lives in your balls and I am not sure when you get them. Lets Google.” “No Mum I think I have seen enough. Can I get an ice cream I think I deserve one.” Sure. Shame they don’t serve vodka at the Caltex as I think I deserve one.
He continued with the baby-making questioning and wanted to know if everyone was made the same way. I said we were all made the same even cavemen. “Wow!” he said, his brain ticking over “Hang on, well how did the first caveman know what to do if he hadn’t had the ‘birds & bees’ chat – how would he have know what to do with his penis?” Trust me he knew.
The next day I asked if he had any questions and he said no. As we were on a roll I thought I’d test the water and talk periods. I told him every month when the egg is ready it sort of says, “Hey where is the sperm, I want to make a baby!” When there is no sperm the egg gets released along with some blood. I carry on and explain ladies need pads or other things like look like white lipsticks. I can’t tell you how thrilled he was to finally know what those things in our bathroom were – you’d swear he’d won lotto.
I went on about sore tummies; headaches, sore backs. I decided to hold back on the emotional rollercoaster, chocolate eating, tear-fest that can also occur – I don’t want to break the kid after all. He had a few more questions; was I using a tampon now, are they reusable, does every lady have their period on the same day and would someone in the world be having a period right now - the topic ended.
The next morning and after the fourth Red Hot Chilli Peppers track in a row I ask my son (his turn to pick the tunes) if we can turn the music down as I had a headache. Promptly he turned the volume knob and asked if I needed a tampon.
BACK IN MY DAY IT WAS ALL ROLLER SKATING AND SOCCER MATCHES ‘THAT TIME’ OF THE MONTH… THAT WAS BEFORE NAPROGESIC, THE INTERNET AND INSTAGRAM.