Bug asked an interesting question yesterday. She was helping me change Guy’s diaper, “Mommy? Why do boys have their privates on the outside and girls don’t?”
Somewhere I read or heard or watched that you should always answer honestly when kids ask these types of questions. Apparently you’re “supposed” to give a short, factual response that answers their question in a matter-of-fact, no-big-deal way. “They” say if you do, then your kids will learn the truth about their bodies and s. e. x. without any drama or anxiety. Plus answering questions when kids are 5 and 6 and 7 will save you the awkwardness of “The Talk” when they’re 13– you will have already established an open and safe place to talk about “it”.
That all sounds good. I even agree. I mean it’s logical– if Bug grows up talking to me about this stuff, if she can trust she’ll get a straight answer from me, then it won’t be such a big deal later– when the stakes are so much higher.
Yet, for all my knowledge and education on the topic, in the moment, I could not think of what to say to her. And even if I could have, I don’t think I could make myself say the truth. I don’t think I could look into her innocent little face and say, “Boys’ privates are on the outside and girls’ are on the inside so they fit together.”
And I KNOW I can’t have the follow-up conversation! Or, at least, I don’t want to. Not yet.
Call me a prude; she just seems so young. Too young.
But, then again, she’s not. Not really. Not when I send her out into a world busting at the seams with information. I was just a year older than her when some kid at school told me all about the birds and the bees. And I came home and educated my little sister.
Which is EXACTLY the reason all the “experts” say to talk to kids young, to answer their questions, so you can be in charge of the information instead of little-miss-know-it-all on the playground.
It makes sense, but when it came to actually doing it, I couldn’t. I failed.
So I did the next best thing; I told her an almost truth, “Their privates are on the outside so they can pee standing up,” I said.
She nodded, “But mama, why do they need to pee standing up.”
“Because their privates are on the outside.” See my nifty circular logic? I felt proud and thought, Mama’s got a few tricks up her sleeve.
Unfortunately Bug’s too smart; she wasn’t buying it, and she wasn’t letting it go either.
“Mommy why didn’t God make them have inside privates so they can pee sitting down? Why do boys and girls have different privates?”
“Because if they were the same, we wouldn’t know who was a boy and who was a girl.” Ha, I thought, that ought to shut her down.
“But WHY are they different? Why are boy’s on the outside and girl’s aren’t?!?”
Aaaaaannnnd we’re back to the beginning. I stared at her, hard. I tried to figure out the right move: Tell her, don’t tell her.
All I could think was, “I’m not ready. She’s not ready. We need more time!”
So I did what is arguably the most unhealthy thing I could; the thing I often resort to when I need out of a sticky situation, “Hey!” I said, “I have an idea! Let’s get ice cream!”
Because ice cream makes everything better.
P.S. How have you handled this conversation with your little ones? Leave your experience in the comments section below! Please! Clearly I need help 🙂