Monday, September 9, 2013

Full Disclosure

Okay.  I'll be honest.  I have no freaking clue what I'm doing when it comes to parenting. My goal is to try to keep my kids alive and pray my poor skills won't scar them for life. 

Have I scarred my kids?  I don't know. 
  
What do know, however, is that there are moments when talking with other parents where I smile and squirm.  Moments where I wonder, "Ooof. Was that a bad thing I did?"

Take the other day, for example:

"Unbelievable!  Do you know what Elodie told my daughter?" The other mom looked at me with such intensity in her eyes I actually took a step backward. I smiled and shook my head, but I had a feeling I knew exactly what was coming.

"That to make babies, the man puts his zizi inside the woman's zizi!" (For those of you unfamiliar with French slang, zizi is basically a nice term for one's private parts.)

The mom continued, "When I was a child, I was told babies came from a cabbage patch.  But now, because I didn't want to shame Elodie,  I had to tell my daughter -- who's only seven! -- that yes, Elodie was correct.  Where on Earth did she learn that?"

I thought that's the way to traumatise kids about eating cabbage and shook my head.  Out loud, I said, "She has an older sister."  The words burned my tongue.

Emma never told Elodie anything like that.  Hell, I'm not even sure Emma knows where babies come from.  Last year I bought her a book about how our bodies change and why.  She promptly hid it somewhere in her room and refused to bring it out when I wanted to read it with her.  To this day, I have no idea where that book is. And anytime I bring it up, Emma sneaks off before I can even blink.

So, no.  It wasn't Emma.  It was me.

We'd been reading a bedtime story -- some banal fairy tale with a reworked happy ending -- when Elodie turned to me and asked, "How are babies made?  I mean, exactly?"

For a split second I considered wrapping the basic truth up in a fancy bow.  Talking about love and closeness and miracles.  But then it just came out.  In a straightforward, very technical, very exact way: "The man puts his zizi inside the woman's zizi."

She stared at me for a second, waiting for me to laugh at the joke.  When I didn't, she jumped out of bed and paced the room, shaking herself like she was trying to rid herself of the thought. "Yuk! Yuk, yuk, yuk!"  Then she stopped. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped in horror.  "That means...you and...you and Papa...did that!?!"

I'm a bad mommy.  Bad, bad mommy.  The poor girl is going to be haunted by that image the rest of her life.  It doesn't matter that I pulled out the fancy bow then.  That I waxed on about intimacy and delicacy and love and sharing.  It was too late.  The wrapping couldn't hide the box of instructions underneath.

For some insane reason, I thought she'd forget about it.  Or at least that she'd never bring it up to others. 

Shows you how deluded I can be. 

But as the school bell rang and I waved good-bye to the other mom, my initial shame changed to something else.  A strange satisfaction. I told my daughter the truth and the world didn't come to an end.  I know that when she's invited to eat sauerkraut, at least she won't be terrified she's eating shredded baby parts.

And I know she'll be on her guard.  Anytime a boy gets too close, her new rule is: "Keep your zizi away from me."

Now that's what I want to hear.  I just hope she's still saying it ten years from now.

Please.




 




10 comments:

  1. Better they learn the truth from you than some not so truthful story on the street.

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    1. Thanks, Kathryn. Yeah, who knows what they'd hear out there!

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  2. I had to tell my child the "birds and the bees" when I thought she was too young at age 9. Watching a show, the topic came up (completely out of the blue.) I had to own up. I had vowed to tell my daughter the truth, and not try to sugar coat it. Fortunately, I made a complete fool out of myself, making the occasion quite humorous, as I ran around the house looking for my sister's med school anatomy book. I couldn't find it. I looked for apps on her phone...her apps were all *too* technical. In the end I ended up drawing horribly distorted images of anatomy. Her reaction: YUCK! That's weird! ;)

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    1. Ha ha ha! I can totally picture this. And yep, she's scarred for life! :)

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  3. There are some great books and this isn't too young. My daughter had terrible stomach pains at 11 and the doctor asked me to leave the emergency room. When I reentered, Llara said, "He wanted to ask me if I had intercourse. He didn't think I'd say anything if you were there. He doesn't know we have a great relationship." The doctor said they had 10 year olds coming in pregnant.

    I started telling her at 5 in dribs and drabs. When her pediatrician told her at 9, she looked at me and said, "You DID know what you were talking about."

    Of course my mother told me about daddy planing a seed. I pictured a miniature hoe and rake and a baby going in through my belly button.

    And a few scars are good so they can complain about you and blame you for stuff later on...should end when they have their own kids.

    Lovingly
    DL

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    1. Thanks, DL. It's so interesting to see how other parents approach this. My mom also told me about seeds. I thought she bought them at the supermarket. But she did tell exactly where they had to go, and that just freaked me out.

      And yeah, it's amazing how much you forgive your parents once you have your own kids. It's like, "Oh, yeah. Now I get it." :)

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  4. I think being honest is the best policy to have, and you told her how babies are made very simply, with words she can understand.

    I laughed so hard at this post, even if you've already told me this story in person, I was snorting! (Good thing I didn't have anything to drink right now).

    Have a great night, Katie :)

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

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    1. Thanks, Lexxie. In the end I've decided she's much better off knowing.

      Besides. I never liked cabbage. :)

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  5. Oh my God. I'm so glad I found this post. You are not alone in feeling like this around other parents. I've always been honest with my kids when they ask questions. Natalie learned about where babies come from at age 6 bc I was pregnant. we were at the bookstore and she found a book. on the car ride home, she says,"I know how you got pregnant" after I finished choking on my water, I asked her how. She told me, "Daddy has a part and you have a part and when you put daddys part in your part, it makes a baby that comes out of your hoo hoo. Is that true?" all I could think of to say was, "pretty much". she was quite for a minute. then tells me, "ok, I get it. just don't let it happen again ok?" lol. I about died! Keep in mind she is one of those advanced kids that understands way earlier than other kids. My younger daughter would not have been able to grasp that concept.

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    1. OMG that is so hilarious! And I love the term hoo hoo. Gotta use it!

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