Off the Mat: When My 1st Grader Asks About Sex

Consenting to Questions

It starts simply enough. These conversations do. We pull onto I-91, skirt Northampton afternoon traffic to the edge of town to get my allergy shots.

Mama, why do they throw away the needles? Why don’t they use them again?

My practice is to answer my child’s questions when he asks. The trick is answering only the question he has asked. Questions beget questions.

I explain about contamination, how my blood is on the needle and could share germs with somebody else if the allergy nurse used it again. I can’t recall now whether he asked what germs or whether I volunteered information, but within a quarter mile I was explaining HIV.  How scientists haven’t figured out how to fix the disease from those germs so the best thing is to not get it.

How do you get it? Of course he asks.

Not through sneezes or spit like colds, but from blood and …. take a deep breath as silently as possible so he doesn’t notice the pause before I answer honestly… from the liquids from your penis or vagina. (Yes, I know, not from pee. But I was improvising at 65 mph!)

Which of course begs the question how those liquids get shared. And suddenly I‘m talking about sex with my first grader. Again. Read the rest of this entry »

Q&A: Where Do Babies Come From?

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

“I second/third Robie Harris’ books,” writes Susan Countryman. “We read It’s So Amazing together, and answer questions matter-of-factly as they come up.” (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Have your kids asked yet how babies are made, or where babies come from? What did you say? If they haven’t asked yet, how might you reply when they do?

  • Amanda Kingsley writes, “My five year old thinks that boy eggs are on one side and girl eggs are on the other… beyond that cuteness we’ve explained that the sperm meets the egg to make a baby.  She hasn’t asked how they meet, but we have a great book for that age group recommended by a client: It’s Not the Stork: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends. We try to answer questions as simply and honestly as we can, never giving more info than they ask for (girls are 5 and 7).”
  • Barbara Dunn writes, “In our house, everyone knows where babies come from: The Social Worker! Seriously, though, we have answered just one question at a time rather than doing the full traditional explanation all at once. Also have left age appropriate library books just sitting around for them to pick up on their own as an ice breaker.”
  • Pauline Delton writes, “Love the “It’s Not the Stork” series. That’s pretty much the same info we’ve given to our 6 year old (he was 5 at the time). It’s enough to satisfy his curiosity and it’s honest/accurate ‎(He knew from whence they birth when he was much younger, though, and we’d seen some birth videos).
  • Laura Lucchesi writes, “Reading books to them from their age group! There are many wonderfully written and illustrated books about everything. I have a collection in my library I started when they where born. From potty training to the World Book Encyclopedias. They had the ability to read whenever they wanted. Explaining things helps when you read to your child.”
  • Heather Dunham Katsoulis writes, “Sex and Sensibility: The Thinking Parent’s Guide to Talking Sense About Sex is a fantastic book dealing with each age appropriate response.”
  • Megan Rubiner Zinn writes, “I wrote a piece on this subject for Jezebel a few months ago, “The Moment When Your Son Asks About His Balls” – turned out to be one of the best conversations I’ve ever had with my son.”
  • Susan Countryman writes, “I second/third Robie Harris’ books. We read It’s So Amazing together, and answer questions matter-of-factly as they come up.”
  • Marissa Potter writes, “I am always honest, without over sharing. My kids have been more interested in how babies come out than how they come to grow in the first place, so far. My answer about conception, at this point, has been that is that when two grown ups have so much love between them that there is extra love, a baby grows.”
  • Jackie Amuso Dolby writes, “I think the answer is different at different ages. With four children ages 13-3, my answers have to be age appropriate. You can’t give them too much at 3 but you HAVE TO tell them the real truth at 13.”
  • Rebecca Trow Addison writes, “I agree that it depends on the age of the child. It is a lot more complicated now than it used to be too. It’s no longer ‘a man and a woman’…”
  • Annie Parker writes, “I was straight up with a blunt but simple explanation. The younger the child the less phased they are likely to be. Really penis, eggs, Santa and space ships are all the same amount crazy. Don’t make a big thing of it. They learn their attitudes from us.”
  • John L. Grossman writes, “When I explained it to my son 2 years ago the penis-sperm-uterus-egg thing didn’t faze him until he said, “Did you do that?” and I responded “twice!” (I have 2 kids), then he ran out of the room.”

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