I knew it was coming. There’d been some observations, a comment or two…things were definitely percolating in his almost-nine-year old head. In preparation, I had gotten a book or two from the library, asked friends how they’d handled it. I wanted to be ready – but then, just like death after a long illness, when it actually happened I wasn’t really ready at all.
There we were, at the dermatologist’s office, having her look at some skin discolorations on Liam’s face, and while she was checking something in her computer, Liam popped the question, with no introductory remarks, no prefatory throat clearing, just jumped in:
So how does a woman get a baby inside her?
I saw the doctor’s head swivel towards me, then back to her computer, and it occurred to me that I could just punt: ask her to answer the question. She is, after all the medical professional, and maybe she could even pull out a few charts and an anatomically correct mannequin.
But no, no, that wouldn’t do. We’re supposed to, you know, be all patient and wise about this stuff, right? I’m not supposed to let on that the very thought of my child–that sweet little body–getting all sexed up makes me want to cringe–and collapse in wild laughter. So I just said that when we were somewhere more private, I’d be glad to answer that question and we went on with the dermatologist visit. And I can’t swear to it, but I swear I heard the doctor chuckling as she left the examination room.
A week or so passed and I thought maybe The Question had gotten buried under homework and soccer practice and what-to-be-for-Halloween, but then one night when Liam was in the bath:
So mom, remember that question I asked you at the doctor’s office?
I nod, knowing what’s coming.
L: What’s the answer?
I feint: “well, what do you know? What have you heard about how this happens?”
Liam: Nothing. I mean, basically nothing.
Me, following the instructions I read about in a really useful book called From Diapers to Dating (thanks, Carolyn, for the suggestion): so you want to know how a woman gets a baby inside her?
Liam: Well, I mean, once a woman has a baby, why would she have another one?
Fabulous, I think. We’re not dealing with actual SEX here, we’re just dealing with sibling rivalry. Piece o’cake. I mouth a few platitudes about people liking to have a big family, and about how having a sibling can mean that you’ve always got someone to play with, even if they’re sometimes aggravating, and so you don’t have to be lonely–
Liam: So that’s why anyone who is an only child has a gameboy, right?
I nod, sure that I’ve dodged the sex-talk bullet. But there is more to come, my friends, more to come. It was a very long bath.