‘But how does the man’s sperm actually get inside the woman?’
This was the most direct, specific question she had asked to date and it deserved an honest answer.
Then again, she was only nine. Barely.
We had started with a general chat at bedtime. She wanted to know when to expect puberty. She wanted to know if you could choose a boy baby or a girl baby. She wanted to know if boys bled every month like girls. They were thoughtful questions that I answered easily and as simply as I could.
Which meant in reality, that I used ten words when two would suffice but that’s just me.
I had recently been to a seminar at school about how to talk to kids about sex without screwing it up. Pardon the pun. Originally expecting around 30 people, over 120 parents had crammed into the library – we all knew what we had ahead of us. And we were all bloody terrified.
One of the take-home messages was ‘teachable moments’, taking advantage of naturally occurring situations where you can ease sex into conversation. The other was ‘always answer their questions’.
‘Well,’ I said, crouching beside her bed, delaying this as long as I could without being too obvious, ‘with his penis. The man puts his penis inside the lady’s vagina and the sperm comes out. And if there is an egg there, it can make a baby. It’s called sex, people have sex and it can make a baby’
She ducked her head under doona for a moment before peeking out at me.
‘Does it hurt? Doing, that thing?’
‘Sex?’ No,’ I said. ‘’It shouldn’t. It actually feels nice.’
She screwed up her face. ‘Too much information, Mum’, she said. ‘You could have just said “I’ll tell you when you’re older”, like you did last year.’
Inwardly I groaned. Outwardly I remained calm. ‘You are older, now. Old enough to know about it, definitely not old enough to do it.’
‘Ewww, don’t worry about that!’
I stood up, unsure if I did well or if I had made a monumental mistake. Her head was under the covers and she wriggled around.
Methinks I need to tell her tomorrow morning not to repeat this conversation at school. Or to her sisters.