What did your parents teach you about the birds and the bees? 73

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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.

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? 


Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Practically nothing. My mother explained it very basically, which led to total disgust that she would let my disgusting father do something like that to her – ever! Mind you, I soon realized I got the very basic talk because she knew little to nothing about it herself! And she had 6 kids!

    2 REPLY
    • Similarly, my mum told me nothing and many years later confided that when I , her 1st baby, was due she expected me to emerge via her navel. I think, for the remaining 7 she knew better.

  2. I got given a phamplet called “Becoming a Woman”. I was simply told “read this and tell me when it happens “.
    No wonder there were so many unwed mum’s in the 60’s and 70’s.

    2 REPLY
    • I had a pamphlet left on my bed.too Ruth. Possibly the same one and I was told to tell Mum too. It was basic female information, nothing about reproduction. When I got the basics from the schoolyard I clearly remember saying “My mother wouldn’t do that. Not even to get me.”

  3. May as well been nothing. It didn’t make much sense. Ask what a tampon was and got whack over back the head with you’ll find out when you need to know !!!!

  4. Never told anything but being country kids we just seem to learn from being outside and seeing life as it was ,best way to live and learn

    1 REPLY
    • Gotta agree with you Judith.That and a bit of natural teenage curiosity and clumsy investigation of the opposite sex.

  5. Had great parents who grew up knowing nothing. So they ensured we were told everything. Dad even sat us girls down and explained about all the different diseases. I thank them for this as it ensured I taught my girls the same.

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