On the way to school the other day, Lillian asked the question. And I mean, THE question.
“How does a baby get in your tummy?”
I’ve learned over the years to do a quick evaluation. What exactly does a four-year-old want to get out this exchange? What kind of answer will satisfy that burning question at this very minute? I always think back to my friend Heidi’s five-year-old daughter’s inquiry about pilgrims. Heidi’s long explanation about religious persecution, traveling for months in desperate conditions, most people not surviving the journey, etc. Her dear (horrified) daughter’s follow-up response was akin to “Oh. So pilgrims are PEOPLE!” Ever hear of TMI? That’s an error I certainly don’t want to make on the delicate subject of baby-making.
I can’t quote myself verbatim, because frankly, I have no real idea of what I said. But it had something to do with husbands, wives, love, God, creation, gifts and time.
Does not compute.
“No, I mean, how does the baby get IN there?” This time she’s pressing a little harder. Reminding me through her four-goinig-on-14 inflection that apparently, I am a dingbat. Do I, or do I not understand the question?
I sort of went back to my first answer. I expanded, and somehow in the midst of my caffeine-starved morning-brain stupor I made the mistake of using the word “egg.”
“Wait! Are you telling me that there’s an egg in those big bellies? Babies are born in eggs?”
Well, I tried hard in the two remaining minutes of the ride to unexplain that one. I am quite sure that worse than not giving her information is giving her life-changing, mind-altering crazy-pants incorrect facts, unintentionally or otherwise.
Whether I was able to undo what had been done remains a mystery. But I won’t lie. I was relieved when the trip was over and our destination reached. She appeared satisfied. That is, until our car ride home, when the string of questions that eeked its way from her sweet rose-petal lips began with something like, “Does it hurt to have a baby? How do you get the egg out? Is it hard? Does it come from your belly button? Is that why your belly button is so big”
Since I’d had some prep time and a cup or two of coffee, I was much more on my game. As a matter of fact, in this case I’m pretty sure I can give you a word-by-word account. It went something like, “Do you want Taco Bell for lunch? You can have a cheesy roll up if you’d like.”
“Can I have two?”
Sure, kid. You can have two.
You are so profound. Great mothering to know exactly which fast food restaurant would be the one to answer her burning questions.
Reminds me of a relative who was babysitting one of her nieces. A niece who only has sisters. Said relative was changing baby son’s diaper. The niece pointed at him and said, “What’s that?” She told her she should probably ask her parents. The niece looked at her and said, “You mean you don’t know either?”
I had many of those talks with my daughter. I distinctly remember one trip in the car where I was so so grateful to be wearing sunglasses as we talked.