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Sperm Angst

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Jennifer Ginsberg: "How did I get inside of your tummy?" My son Shane and I were driving to the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles for our Saturday outing.

mother and her son

I thought the dreaded "sex talk" wasn't supposed to happen for several more years. Shane is only 4, and I am certainly not prepared for this yet.

I decided to be as honest and clinical as possible. "Daddy has something inside of his body called sperm. My body makes tiny little eggs. One day they got all mixed up together and you started to grow into a little baby inside of my tummy."

Not too bad! Amazing that with all the brain cells I destroyed in college, I can still remember this 3rd grade biology lesson.

But I wasn't off the hook yet. "How did Daddy's sperm get inside of your body?"

There is nothing more annoying to me than parents who use made-up words for children's body parts. I find it patronizing and demeaning. I am of the firm belief that even the youngest child deserves a truthful and dignified response to their questions.

When Shane was 2 he was watching me change his newborn sister's diaper and he had a profound lesson in human anatomy. I will never forget how he looked at her vagina in horror and exclaimed, "Mommy, what happened to Kiana's penis?"

I knew there was no way around his "sperm" question. I took a deep breath and said, " The sperm got out of his penis and into my vagina. It found my egg and that was how you were made."

He was not going to let me off the hook so easily. "How did the sperm get out of Daddy's penis?"

I called my husband on my cell phone and handed it to Shane. "That one is for Daddy to answer."

I surrender!


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34 comments so far | Post a comment now
Heather Burt April 4, 2009, 1:05 PM

Kids and their questions….never ending! I had a similar experience with my son when he was 4….I was totally unprepared, thinking I had years before I had to have “the talk”. Hard to balance what info to actually share, but whatever you say leads to more questions! The writer, Jennifer, is so honest about what being a mom is all about!

Tabitha April 4, 2009, 3:52 PM

I appreciate how honest you are with your children. This sure beats my mother telling me you get pregnant from swallowing watermelon seeds. Love the article.

Heather April 4, 2009, 4:12 PM

My Mom told my brother and me, “It all begins with a seed, and my brother and I ran around comparing ourselves to tomatoes and lettuce for the next few months. Your explanation is among the better ones I’ve heard.

dee April 4, 2009, 4:24 PM

my mind immediately went to the same way the genie got out of the magic lamp!! what did your husband say?

Jenna April 4, 2009, 4:31 PM

My 4 year old just asked last night- so, how do babies get out of the mama belly? She had heard the doctors had to cut the mom’s belly (C-section) from a friend and wanted to see my cuts. She and sibs were delivered vaginally, and since we were in the last 30 seconds of bedtime routine I did NOT want to get into a big convo I had to decide what to say… told her the baby knows how to get out so the mama’s body lets them out when they’re ready. That worked… for now :)

ModernMom April 4, 2009, 6:01 PM

Amazing answer. When my babe was 4 she asked me that question in the produce aisle of the grocery store! I skirted the issue with a quick..”Well, God helped get you in my tummy” Seemed to satisfy her for the moment!

Uly April 5, 2009, 4:11 PM

Your son saw your daughter’s vagina? Not very likely. You MEAN to say that he saw her VULVA.

Roughly, the vagina is the part INSIDE. The vulva is the part that you’re wiping when you change the diaper. Bit silly to talk about using the correct words when, in fact, you’re not. (Oh - and pee doesn’t come out of the vagina. Amazing how many people get that one wrong.)

Father May 21, 2009, 4:49 PM

As a father, I’m very confused by all the terminology. That is why I don’t correct my daughter when she refers to her “pee-er”.

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