And I was unprepared.
I had friends who made a big deal out of taking their daughters on overnight trips to explain puberty and sex to them. Such events were always met with mixed reviews. Sometimes they were well received, other times the kids were mortified and hated that such a big deal was made of it.
That said, I hadn’t decided how or when to tell my daughter some important facts about life. I thought I had more time. (‘Wasn’t it just yesterday she was born?’ I thought.)
She started asking very specific questions and I had half a second to decide how I wanted to answer her. In the end, it was a very easy decision to make.
I decided to answer her honestly and in a straight-forward manner. I always told her “Please ask me anything. Nothing is too embarrassing or weird. Nothing is off limits. If you have questions, feel free to ask me.” And now, here she was, asking. And in that moment, I decided to be frank with her.
I should add that my parents told me nothing growing up. I was shocked when my period started. I was unprepared. I didn’t want the same for my daughter.
I explained that her body was starting to change and mature. I told her it would be changing slowly over the next several years, and that it was completely normal. I thought we had a great talk.
As I started to leave her room she said, “There’s just one more thing. I can ask you anything, right?” I nodded and she went on, “Well, I’ve been so worried. Some nights I can’t fall asleep because I keep worrying about this. But what will happen if I wake up one day and suddenly there’s a baby in my tummy? I don’t want that to happen until I’m ready.”
My heart sunk. I had no idea she was worried about anything, let alone a surprise pregnancy!
I said, “I assure you, you are not engaging in any activities that will lead to you waking up one day with a baby in your tummy. You do not need to worry.” She sighed and said she feel better. And off we went, to look at Christmas lights. (If we’re being honest, I half looked at Christmas lights while texting some friends furiously, asking for advice on puberty and sex and approaching those topics with their daughters.)
A couple hours later, I was tucking my daughter in when she said, “I can ask you about anything, right? Okay. How does a baby just get into a mommy’s tummy? Can you please explain this to me?”
I said, “Yes, if you really want to know.” I said something about women having eggs and men having sperm and when they get together, they can make a baby. Inwardly, I patted myself on the back and thought ‘Great job! You told her without having to really tell her!’
But we weren’t done yet.
My daughter thought for a minute and then asked, “So how does the sperm get to the egg?” And before I could answer, her eyes got huge and she whispered “THROUGH KISSING????”
And then she started getting noticeably panicky.
I tried not to laugh.
So I told her more explicitly. I prefaced it with, “It’s weird and a little gross, but if you want to know, I will tell you.” We continued to talk and nothing was taboo. She hugged me. She asked intelligent questions. And she thanked me for being honest with her. We also discussed that just because she now knows about sex, she’s not to talk about it with her friends. It’s a private matter for their parents to explain to them when they’re ready. She agreed that should would be responsible with the information.
Some may think she was too young to hear this, on the verge of her ninth birthday. And some kids might be. (I wasn’t even sure how my husband would react when I told him about the milestone conversation. He was encouraging and supportive, by the way.)
There’s no magic age to have “the talk.” But I kept thinking I’d rather her learn this information from me. She’d clearly been worried and curious and I’m glad she didn’t take that curiosity to friends and get the information elsewhere.
We didn’t escape to a hotel for a special weekend where I could give her the talk. But what we had was better than that. We had an organic, off the cuff conversation that was entirely guided by my daughter. And I’m hopeful this laid the foundation for us to continue having open communication.
If you’re curious, I did some quick research that night and immediately ordered this book. It has been invaluable as she prepares for puberty.
Have you had “the talk” with your child? What helpful tips would you add?