Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Talk

So I'm working in my home office today, and Thing 1 is puttering around, on his winter break from third grade. He's looking at things through his microscope, building things out of clay, watching the Super Chicken theme song over and over again on You Tube--the usual. He wanders into my office, waving a cardboard wrapping paper tube around as a light saber, and asks me the following question:

"Dad, how do people have babies after they have a wedding? I mean, is it just like they have the wedding and then there are babies, or is it when they kiss, or what?"

And, professional educator that I am, I reply, "Whuh?"

I ask a clarifying question or two, just to make sure I'm where I think I am.

Says he, "I mean, how do the genes from the mom and the dad come together to make a baby? Is it when they kiss, or is it something else?"

Ok, well, that's clear enough. I ask him what made him wonder about such things.

"We were watching The Incredibles, and there's a scene where they get married, and then suddenly they have kids. And I know the babies have genes from both parents, so...how do they get them?"

So I explain the biology to him--because he is Science Boy and he actually does better if you start with the hard science, even at age 8. I even go to You Tube and find some video clips for him of sperm cells trying to fertilize an egg.

Of course, he's no fool. He wants to know how they got there in the first place. So I tell him. And, of course, because he is an 8-year-old boy, he finds the idea laughable and disgusting. I go online again (I was not expecting this conversation quite yet, so I didn't have an age-appropriate book ready) and find some cutaway pictures of male anatomy, so he can see that he has the plumbing for something other than urine.

"But he just point his penis and the sperm comes out at her like pee, or does he have to put it in her vagina?"

When I tell him it's the latter, he says, "Yuck." But, interestingly, not "YUCK!" Just simplly, matter-of-factly. Then he asks a few more questions. Then, satisfied, he walks away to play some more. As he leaves the office, I ask him if he has any other questions, or if there is anything else he wants to know.

"Nope," he says happily. "You answered everything." And off he goes.

Fine for him. I'm useless for work the rest of the day.

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