By Tracee Sioux
A few weeks ago I was at a mentor/mentee slumber party when a fellow mentor mentioned that she was trying to decide how to tell her nine-year-old daughter where babys come from.
My five-year-old knows where babys come from, I said. She doesnt know how they get there but she knows where they come from.
All eyes turned to stare at me adult women and 14-year-old girls alike and all had something akin to shock written on their faces.
What am I going to do, tell her a stork was bringing the baby? I mean, she could SEE my stomach growing and knew it had to come out somehow.
When I was pregnant last year we watched A Baby Story all the time and they show you exactly how babies are born.
They show everything? Like the crowning and everything? My fellow mentor asked.
Well, the crowning is about the only thing they dont show, they drape that part with a sheet, but they show the pushing and the cutting of the cord and pretty much everything else.
We watched it all the time when I was pregnant and the interesting thing is that the whole process doesnt scare her one bit. Im pregnant out to here and getting more afraid by the minute even though Ive done it before. But to a four-year-old it seemed like the most natural thing in the world. To her it was like, Of course, thats how babies come out.
She wasnt worried about you hurting? The other mentor asked.
Well, they show natural labor and labor with the epidural. I told her I was going to have the medicine so I wouldnt have that kind of pain and she was pretty good with that decision. She was really comforting actually, saying things like, Dont worry, Mommy, it will hurt but then they will give you the medicine and youll feel better and then well have Baby Zack!
She had this little doctors kit we got at the dollar store and she came up with these scissor type tweezers things and started making cutting motions at my crotch. I was pretty uncomfortable with that, so I asked her What are you trying to do? and she said, Im cutting the string, Im helping you have a baby!
I even caught her playing on the bed with her cousin, whose mom was pregnant at the same time, and she had a soccer ball under her shirt and she was grunting and pushing away, UGH! UGH!? Im pushing the baby out my bum.
She thinks it comes out of the bum. At this point shes aware of a pee hole and a bum hole. She thinks her vagina is her pee place. Shes not aware of a third hole for sex and babies and her period yet. I suppose shell find out about that later, when shes closer to her period. So, she thinks babys come out of the bum hole, I think.
How does she think babies get in there? A 14-year-old mentee asked.
God. Which is pretty accurate considering we tried to put one in there for a year-and- a-half, but it didnt happen until God decided it was time, I said. She had been praying for a brother for a long time, so it makes sense to her that God would put a baby in my tummy as an answer to her prayers.
Later reflecting on their first look of shock that my little girl would know how babys come out I started examining why we keep such things, natural biological things, a secret. Was there a good developmental reason for such secrets?
Frankly, I cant think of any.
I thought back to when I was a kid and my mom gave me and my same-age, same gender cousin the sex-baby-menstruation talk while my dad gave my brothers the same talk in another room. Wisely, they assumed the two older girls would spill the beans to the two younger boys so they did it at the same time. I think I was about 9 or 10. I remember the whole thing being rather shocking, like a huge secret about my girlness had been kept from me.
In the Bible, menstruation and birth is referred to as unclean. I think thats rather archaic. So did Jesus, as he touched and healed the poor woman who had been banished because she bled her whole life, and therefore was considered unclean.
I think its actually taken this long from Biblical days until the present day for our collective consciousness to come to terms with the basic biological facts of femininity. Why else would we be keeping menstruation, birth and sex such forbidden knowledge?
I cant think of a legitimate reason to keep such things from our daughters. My daughter sees my body and she wonders things like:
Am I going to grow boobs? Will I have hair on my bum too?
(For the record, I have pubic hair and not a hairy bum.) I just tell her the truth:
Yes, youll grow breasts and hair when you are a teenager.
She inevitably asks, Why?
Well, the breasts are to feed your babies with, like I fed you and Zack, after youve graduated from college and gotten married. And Im not really sure why we grow hair.
Shes probably too young to know that shell spend a good deal of her life trying to rid herself of the pubic hair. Well save that for swimsuit season 2015.