(The following was originally published in 2009.)
My daughter is getting to that stage where she’s starting to ask the Big Questions. Actually, she hit the stage some months ago, around the time I became pregnant again. I’m a fan of Dr. Spock’s advice on these matters, which is to offer no more information than a child is requesting.
At first, the questions about how babies are made were answered with things like, “From a mom and dad’s love.” Oddly enough, she seemed satisfied with that type of Helen Steiner Rice drivel. I might as well have told her that babies are three parts magic, two parts wonder, and just a pinch of heaven.
When the questions got more specific, my answers got more concrete. “Babies are made from an egg that lives in the mom’s body,” I’d explain, “and a teeny little seed that the daddy gives to her.” (She probably imagined my husband handing over a little Burpee’s seed packet to me.)
This explanation only lasted so long. She eventually became concerned about how a baby in my tummy could already have an egg in its tummy, which would in turn also have an egg in its tummy, and on and on down the line. This notion of some sort of infinite set of Russian nesting dolls was torturing her sense of logic, so I finally got down to brass tacks.
“You know whenever we see grasshoppers on top of each other, or frogs or ducks or any animal, and I tell you they’re making a baby?” I explained. “Well, that’s how it is with pretty much all living creatures, people included.”
I waited for her to process this new information. That took exactly three seconds, judging by the way her expression changed from curious to horrified. I had no idea that I, personally, could disgust her so much.
“Nooooo,” she said with a question mark in her eyes. “You and Daddy don’t get on top of each other, do you?”
Technically, no. No, we don’t. I mean, two people can’t be on top of each other at the same time, right? I’ve been getting by on such technicalities in my explanations for a long time now. And I could have dodged the truth just this one more time. Instead, it finally occurred to me that I don’t have to answer every single question she asks exactly when she asks it. So, this time? This time I said, “Who wants to play My Little Pony!?” And to my surprise, it worked.