Tackling the 'where do babies come from?' question

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When I was nine years old, my best friend pulled a girl in front of me and told me to tell her about "where babies come from". I looked from one to the other, searching for a trick, a joke at my expense.

"She still thinks birds DELIVER them," she snorted. "I told her that's not true, but she won't believe me. You tell her!"

I did my best to look authoritative.

"Well, the dad puts his penis into the mum's vagina and this stuff comes out of it and meets up with the mum's egg and then the mum gets a baby." The girl's face crumpled.

Tears dripped from her big sad eyes and she told me I was lying and ran away. The next day, my newly solo mum was hauled into school and told her daughter was "giving sex education classes" to the younger children and, "How was she going to deal with it?"

When I returned home, my mother was lying on the grass reading a book.

"What have you been telling kids at school about where babies come from?" she asked.

Her face was relaxed. She smothered a laugh when I got to my description of reproduction and was light in her feedback that it's better to let adults explain sex and making babies.

"But she thought they came from storks, Mum!"

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Talking about sex with your kids can be awkward – and knowing what age to start talking specifics seems to be up for debate.

My son Oli is eight and while he's not asking me directly about sex, he's intrigued by the ongoing saga of who loves who at school. I've heard him explain to his brother that when "adults are in love" a man "sits on top of a lady". He also hangs out regularly with kids older than him. I want to make sure he gets a little more knowledge than the explanations I was spouting at nine.

So I got a book that covers everything from hormones to sex, pimples to masturbation, and we're making our way through it.

I'm resisting my natural urge to make jokes and am listening to his questions and reading from the book in a matter-of-fact way. We're taking it at his pace. I'm nervous because I don't know what it's like to go through puberty as a boy. I don't know what it feels like to have your voice suddenly change or wake up to sticky sheets. But I figure the more we talk together about this stuff, the more likely it is he'll confide in me when he's older.

But whether it works or not, I'd rather be the one doing the talking than a nine-year-old girl who thinks she has all the answers.

- Stuff