For those of you who have known me for say, longer than 28 minutes, you have surely already heard this story. But I refuse to apologize for the retelling of this July 4th classic. Much like our other unique holiday traditions: grilling pork chops for Thanksgiving dinner, sleeping in on Black Friday, and watching “Die Hard” at Christmas, this family classic must be revived in honor of the Fourth.
The summer I was barely pregnant with Kevin, my daughter, Kacey, was a very precocious, almost 6-year-old. One day in June, she marched down the hall of our apartment, donning her blue daisy outfit, hands on her hips as she proclaimed, “Okay mommy, I’ve been thinking about this. If I’m gonna be a big sister, there’s some stuff I need to know. I know it takes a mommy AND a daddy, but what I don’t get is how they get together!”
Bother. She’s FIVE. I had hoped I wouldn’t have to have the sex talk with her until she was like 12 or 35.
However, I’ve always held the belief that if a child is old enough to ask a question, she is old enough to deserve an honest answer. But exactly WHICH answer? How do I explain this simply enough for her to grasp without damaging her innocent little psyche? (“Well honey, you know on Sunday afternoons when mommy lets you watch a Disney video and daddy closes our bedroom door..?”)
Um, no. That probably falls under the “Scarred for Life” category.
And then I remembered Lennart Nilsson’s book, “A Child is Born”. Perfect. It even has tasteful photographs.
So I dug through all of my hippie birth books and soft-porn breastfeeding manuals, and proceeded to show her anatomy diagrams (i.e., “boy parts” and “girl parts”). After that, we moved on to images of the egg and sperm. We talked about how the female usually just has one egg, but the male has millions of tiny sperm and they swim around really really fast.
This is the point where swirling finger gestures were involved.
We moved on to prenatal ultrasound images, and ended with birth photos taken from a “northern” perspective. She seemed content with the explanation, and I breathed a sigh of relief that “the talk” (or rather, the first of many talks) was satisfactorily accomplished.
Fast forward ten days. We went out to the lake, along with my parents and 10,000 other people to view the July Fourth Fireworks Extravaganza. We sat on the bank of the lake amid the throng of spectators, when one particularly interesting firework exploded. First it burst white, then hundreds of tiny little swirly sub-bursts followed. It was gorgeous. The crowd “OOOOOHHHED” and “AAAAHHHED”, then my diminutive, but very loud daughter declared…
“Mommy, LOOK – SPERM!!!”
A hush fell over the crowd. Eyes stared and glared. Pretty sure my dad swallowed his tongue. My mother gasped in reactionary disbelief as though to say, “WITH WHAT SMUT HAVE YOU BEEN CORRUPTING MY GRANDDAUGHTER”S MIND?”
I, well I was mortified.
Kacey and I then had another talk. “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to candidly proclaim your truths, please, PLEASE remember we hold this truth to be self-evident: there are some things you never, ever say in front of your grandparents.”