Once upon a time, Mulan married Ken.
Since we’ve moved the Husband’s work-hours have been long.
Unpredictably long, mixed with travel, yet I don’t mind.
These stretches of solo parenting are a gift of time.
Instead of scheduling “discussions” (attitude to adoption) I possess the gift of being able to wait for our talks to naturally unfold.
The other night as the Tornado readied for bed (invariably when all big topics arise) she said:
Mama, I have a question (loooooong pause) how do babies get inside the Mama’s belly?
Later, when I shared the story with friends (I love my friends. None pretended she’d have felt anything other than panic.), they agreed they’d have quietly freaked and redirected the conversation.
I’m a misfit.
There’s lots about parenting which terrifies me (bullying, drinking, drugs, self-esteem erosion), but breaking down the birds and the bees isn’t it.
She reflected back what she’d heard me say.
I resisted laughter as I realized I’d NOT explained it at *all* in a way she could understand.
I backed up and re-approached.
She pronounced the whole thing EW and SUPER DISGUSTING.
BINGO! I’d conveyed the information on a level an eight-year old could comprehend.
I’d nailed it.
I’d used words like sperm and egg and all the technical terms without embarrassment.
I’d managed not to giggle at her questions–yet wasn’t overly serious and did laugh–as did she–at her facial expressions in response to my words.
I’d made reproduction matter-of-fact, not taboo and laid the foundation for open communication later.
I grew self-congratulatory too quickly.
“One more question,” she said after some thought. “Is being married like super fun all the time?”
Halloween ’13 and my BRIDE-loving child.
The woman who’d not stammered over the word vagina stumbled.
I resisted temptation to steer the conversation *back* to reproduction (a parenting first I’m certain) — yet I was stumped how to respond:
Is anything always super fun? Is a YES setting her up for disappointment? Is a NO ruining the fairy tale for a child who loves the idea of marriage?
I said sure, maybe, most of the time, anything worth having is work but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun, nothing is fun all the time kind of stuff.
In the same way my peers shared they’ve have stuttered over reproduction—I awkwardly did my best and am confident I made no sense.
I was tempted to white lie (“It is. It’s like a sleepover every night with your BFF!”).
I flirted with directness (“It’s hard. Really really hard. It’s waking and recommitting even when you don’t feel it hard.).
Which brings me to the title of this post and the non-rhetorical questions which plagued me since:
- How much do we share with our children? Is a white lie OK when intent is good?
- When difficult questions arise (the dreaded drugs & alcohol) are white lies ever OK?