It was the third of July. We were at the beach house. I was sitting in a chair innocently reading a book. My father-in-law and my husband were also reading books in the same room. My mother-in-law was upstairs giving the children a bath and all was well.
Then the bath ended and the children came downstairs.
“Mommy. I have a question.”
“Sure, baby. What’s up?”
“Why does the boy have to put his penis in the girls pagina to get pregnant?”
If you read me with any regularity or know me in real life you probably know that my parenting theory involves answering their questions as honestly and accurately as possible. Even when it comes to questions about sex or religion.
But if you were paying attention you may have realized that my father-in-law was already in the room and my mother-in-law was on the stairs, and now I have to:
1) Parent wisely. I have to answer this question so that she isn’t confused. I don’t want to screw up the kids.
2) Parent well. I don’t want my in-laws to think I suck as a mom. These are their grandchildren.
3) Not start cracking up.
I explained that the man had to put his penis in the vagina because that was where the sperm came from and that the sperm had to get to the egg in order to fertilize it. Until the sperm and the egg were together there would be no baby.
Not bad, right? Straightforward and true.
And I didn’t laugh.
Oh, but little did I suspect the worst was yet to come. I was completely unprepared for her follow up question.
“Mommy? How far does the man have to put his penis into the pagina?”
Okay. No chance of not laughing here. I was laughing, Gabe was laughing, both of my in-laws were laughing and Claudia looked completely perplexed.
As a bonus, I had no good answer.
I told her “That is a very good question. I guess it just depends.”
It isn’t a thorough answer, but it is true. It does depend.
Thankfully her next question was about c-sections. Suddenly I was perfectly at ease discussing medical procedures with five year olds. We also talked about vaginal birthing which seems like it would be uncomfortable in mixed company, but once I fielded the “how far does he have to put his penis in” question a discourse on vaginal childbirth seemed as innocuous as talking about the weather.
I bring this on myself, don’t I?