As parents and grandparents, there are certain questions that we dread being asked. Top of the list must be “How are babies made?”
When Australian cartoonist Fiona Katauskas was asked about the facts of life by her son, she had to use a 40-year-old book to explain the birds and bees. She decided she needed to update the literature and so she wrote The Amazing Story of How Babies are Made.
Katauskas story made me think about when my eldest children were small. My son started asking very gentle questions when I was pregnant with my daughter. “How did the baby get in your tummy Mummy?” was his opener. So I switched off Sesame Street, and went for it. I ploughed through the whole sperm, egg and when-a-mummy-and-a-daddy-love-each-other-very-much speech. I was uncomfortable, but at least I’d had The Chat.
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When my sister was born I made the mistake of asking my dad, “Where did the new baby come from Daddy?”
My father chose not to gloss over the facts but to lie. There was no kernel of truth at the centre of his version of events: “I found her this morning under that tree in the garden” he said, as he pointed through the kitchen window at a red current bush.
I needed more information. “Was the baby just lying on the ground, Daddy?” I pushed.
“Ehm… no of course not…” he said, frantically looking round the kitchen. “She was in that box” he replied, pointing to a medium sized brown cardboard box on the floor.
I fell for it hook, line and sinker. For years I religiously checked all medium sized brown cardboard boxes, just in case the delivery of another child had been accidentally overlooked by my parents, and I couldn’t pass a row of shrubs without ducking down to check the soil for newborns.
What did your parents tell you about the birds and the bees, and what did your children and grandchildren ask you?