Why is it called “the birds and the bees”, anyway?

I talked to the girls about s-e-x last night.

I kept thinking they’re too young for a discussion of that nature, but kalki‘s comment on this post at Susie’s place made me realize I was probably underestimating my daughters.

Kalki’s comment said, in part:

My mom had a series of Christian-based sex education books that she’d read with me. But she always read and discussed them with me a few years after the series recommended for each particular book. She presented them when she felt I was mature enough for them, but she was way off and could (should?) have stuck to the ages on the books, which were conservative enough already.

I, too, have a couple of Christian-based sex education books1.  The first one, recommended for ages 3-5, I read to the girls when I was pregnant with Big Boy. (They were 5 & 7.) It discussed proper names for male and female genitalia, the fact that the baby grows in the mother’s womb…just basic, general stuff.

The second book in the series, recommended for ages 5-8, actually uses the s-e-x word, and tells, in plain, basic language, what happens to boy/girl bodies as they grow, and what sex is, including what parts go where.

I think, maybe, the reason Kalki’s mom and I waited so long to break out the books is because, as you’ve probably already concluded from reading this far, it’s just damned uncomfortable to talk to your little girls about sex. It’s probably not that way for every parent….but we never talked about sex when I was growing up. I remember ONE discussion with my mother – about menstruation. Then she waited until I was, oh, fifteen or sixteen, I think, and made my step-father give me the “sex talk.” It was the single most embarrassing and humiliating moment of my life. I never heard a word he said, because the voices in my head were screaming so loudly for him to JUST. STOP. talking about my body. ICK. *shudder*

BUT. I know the girls are gonna hear about sex, and I’d rather they get the FACTS from me. I wasn’t surprised to learn that they both had a pre-conceived notion of what sex was.

Miss Attitude (almost 7 yrs): “It’s when somebody prisses around and, like, thinks she’s all that.”

The Drama Queen (8 yrs): “It’s, like, kissing and stuff.”

We read the first book again, as a refresher course, as well as a chance for mom to practice not dying of embarrassment when forced to say the “v” and “p” words out loud, in front of her children. Then we moved on to the second book.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of the way I held my shit together. I was so worried – afraid, really – that I’d either giggle like an embarrassed schoolgirl, or stutter and stammer the whole way through. I did neither…well, except that one time. But I’ll explain that later.

In true LadyBug fashion, here’s a list of the high (and low) -lights.

  • My biggest worry was making it through the page where the, umm, location and proper usage of parts was discussed. (Hey, give me a break here. In addition to still being a little embarrassed, I’m trying to keep the Google pervs away.) I did surprisingly well, even slowing down, to make sure the girls heard what it said.
  • Kalki was right. The girls were absolutely ready for that discussion. They listened intently, asked questions, and did very little embarrassed giggling (except for that one time). They even thanked me for talking about it, when I tucked them into bed.
  • Miss Attitude got upset – seriously, crying – about the prospect of childbirth. (“I don’t want to grow up, because having a baby hurts.”) It’s my fault. She ASKED if it hurt. I said “Yeah, it hurts.” She said, “Does it hurt more than a shot?” I’ve given birth three times, all without an epidural. So my natural, honest, forgetting-I-was-talking-to-my-six-year-old-daughter response was, “Oh, YEAH. It hurts A LOT more than a shot.”
    Cue weeping.
    As I was trying to console her with, “Oh, Baby, that’s not something you have to worry about for a very long time.” and “Sweetie, they have medicines that can help it not hurt so much.”, The Drama Queen was the True Comforter. She immediately calmed Miss Attitude’s hysterics and chanting of “I don’t WANT to have a baby” with “Then just don’t have sex.”
    Ah, yes. Problem solved. And now I can say we’ve had our first discussion about birth control. “Just don’t have sex.” (Abstinence. What a wonderful concept.)
  • I seriously can’t express enough how proud I am that I held it together during question-and-answer-time, especially in the face of questions like: “But WHY does the man’s p*nis just…you know…just [making hand gestures] stick out like that?” and “But what does it mean when it says ‘the man fits his p*nis into the woman’s v*gina?'” (Still trying to deter the Google bots.) and, my personal favorite: “Well, what I wanna know is this…Have you and Daddy done that??
  • That one time: It was during the question-and-answer phase. It went something like this:Miss Attitude: But why…why do people sometimes not be together anymore and they get divorced?LadyBug: Well…

    MA: [cutting me off] Oh! I know! It’s because they don’t do that sex stuff all that much anymore!

    LadyBug: [collapsing into fits of giggles. Chest-heaving, gasping-for-air laughter.]

    I couldn’t help it. It was so damned funny. And she had no idea how close to the truth she was.

    Of course, the girls started laughing ’cause I was laughing. We must’ve sat there for a good five minutes, just laughing and giggling, and shushing each other, trying not to wake Big Boy.

So. To sum up: Sex talk. Done. Well, not done really. We’ll discuss it again, bringing it up from time to time, to make sure they keep the facts straight, and answer any questions that come up along the way.

And (*sigh*) we still have to have the menstruation talk. That wasn’t discussed at all in the book. Probably because it woulda scared the holy bejeezus out of the boys. And who could blame them, especially after they’ve watched their daddies run screaming from the room whenever a Tampax commercial comes on?

* * * *

1Please don’t feel the need to bash me for using books. These books are aimed at children, and I felt they’d be a good jumping-off point for a frank, open discussion. It’s not like I just read the books to them and then said, “Okay! Time for bed now!”

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