It was elephants that could have been my saviour. The birthing habits of elephants. To be precise it was the genitalia of a female elephant that could have potentially paved the way for a conversation that I’ve been dreading.
The opening was there, in a metaphorical sense, as well as the actual, you, know opening. But I missed it.
The door slammed shut.
I’ve been putting off the where-did-I-come-from conversation. Delaying and procrastinating, nudging it further and further into the ‘someday’ territory knowing that at some stage it had to be had but not knowing how to just bring it up.
Others fare better at this than me.
You know the types, those mums and dads who comfortably throw around phrases like vagina and penis and copulation while dishing up the spaghetti. Freely discussing condoms and semen and erections while on the school run.
They’ve been talking to their kids about sex – in an age appropriate manner mind you – since the day they were born they boast.
Nothing to hide here we just discuss it freely. Keep the dialogue going you know?
But it’s a boat I missed. One that sailed rapidly away from me the day my then four-year-old asked me how babies get out mummy’s tummies.
Being a complete and total puritanical goody-goody I freaked.
"Out of mummy’s tummy? Well the doctor took you out through the skin, he cut a small hole and lifted you out.." I stammered using the C-section I had for my eldest as justification.
Because, you know. I wasn’t lying was I?
Watch Mamamia confessions. Your most embarrassing sex moment.
I continued this myth with my next two when they inevitably asked me (despite that fact that they didn’t exactly arrive that way.)
I knew I needed to address the facts before my kids heard it in the playground. I kept waiting and worrying about how to casually just bring it up.
I mean how do you even do that? It’s not an easy segue from Minecraft and soccer and could-a-snake-eat-a-person-whole Mama to vaginas and birth canals is it?
It didn’t arise until a chance elephant gave birth at the zoo ( well it wasn't by chance for her, but you know what I mean) and a kindly zookeeper informed my six-year-old about how long it took her to push the baby calf out her VAGINA.
"Mama" he came home incredulous. "Elephant babies come out of their mummy’s vaginas. Did you know that?"
His eight-year-old brother’s mouth dropped. "Out of a VAGINA?"
(Obviously no one in the playground had informed him of 'the facts' yet.)
"No way" he said.
Deep breath. This was it.
"Well so did you" I told him proud of how I handled it, "that’s how many human babies come out too."
And I had it.
My ‘in’ that I had been looking for, the audience I wanted, the segue just perfect....next stop the eggs, the sperm, the erections. Here we go.
Except I stopped.
I don’t know why, maybe because I had all three of children before me and I was hoping to wait and have “the talk” with just the eldest.
Maybe because I felt totally unprepared. Or maybe just because I am a complete and total puritanical goody-goody. But I stopped.
So now here I am with an eight-and-a-half-year old whose sex education consists of the fascinating fact that both human and elephant babies come out of vaginas .... and not much more...
I know, I know. I’ve read the websites. I’ve even bought him a book in case he has any questions but I am stuck. There that book sits on the top shelf, still in its packaging reminding me each time I walk past that maybe I really am a complete and total puritanical goody-goody.
I am aware that the conversation has to be had and that it’s a conversation unlike one I had when I was that young. I am aware that it needs to involve pornography and consent, respect for women and gender fluidity.
I know all this.
I know he needs to hear it from his parents, that if he senses I am uncomfortable with the topic then he will be uncomfortable too. I know that as he approaches the age of nine this is the year, that its time.
And truth be told I also I know that really I’m far from a puritanical goody-goody, but that deep down it’s hard to face my own facts of life - that my little boy is growing up. That my sweet wide-eyed ruffle headed-boy is on the brink of the frightening world of adolescence, still far enough away but there in the future.
But I know what I need to do and I know it’s time, I just need to do it.
How do you plan on having the talk with your kids when it is time?