When my son was 4 year old, he started talking about “the machines that made me” (him). Umm. What?! I didn’t really know how to respond to that statement. I wanted to set him straight but explaining where babies come from was a conversation I didn’t think I’d be having for many more years. Then last summer I read this article on sex-positive parenting, and it mentioned a couple of books on reproduction. I decided to get them from the library. I read them first before reading them with Christopher. One book was way too detailed; I couldn’t even read it out loud to Jim. But What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth was perfect!
Machines do not make babies
Christopher and I read it together twice. And I think he finally understood that machines hadn’t made him. Mommy and Daddy (more specifically an egg and a sperm) had made him. Reading it wasn’t at all awkward. It was scientific. The drawings are cartoonish; they remind me of the Good News Bible from my Catholic upbringing. It shares just enough information about reproduction without getting into sex. Christopher’s favorite page is the one showing a C-section. He was actually outraged that he was born vaginally and not cut out by the surgeon. He was quite jealous that his cousin, Cece, was born via C-section. And I had to tell him which of his friends and cousins was born each way.
I am so glad I’ve shared this information with him. It will make the sex talk that much easier later on. I want him to have a healthy view of sex.
What I was not prepared for as an outcome of reading this book were his questions about who made the first person. Since he now knows that a sperm and an egg are required to make a baby – and that means a man and a woman – how did the first person come about? He wonders whether God made the first person. And we tell him that many people believe that. We try to explain that we believe instead in evolution, but that is an even harder concept to explain to a now 5 year old. I think this week I will be turning again to the library and books to help explain that process.
What crazy things have your kids said? What hard questions do they ask you? How do you explain more adult topics to your children?