“Mummy, how does a baby get into your tummy?”
There was an apocalyptic grinding noise as the world stopped spinning on its axis. Birds hung in the air, mid-flight. A passing car sat stationary on the road as a portentous silence engulfed us.
Oh buggery bugger.
We have touched on this subject before, my five year old son and I. And I felt then as I did now: torn. Am I the only one to find this topic tricky? As we continue to walk, I consider the issues:
1. I want to tell him the truth.
2. But I want to tell him the truth in a way that won’t put the fear of God in him or give him a life-long phobia of dark tunnels.
3. And I want to tell him that truth so perfectly and succinctly that he won’t feel the need to ask a further thirty-eight supplementary questions and points of clarification and so we can swiftly move on to a topic more befitting the morning walk to school. Like… I don’t know, who his favourite Scooby Doo character is.
I fear I am not up to the job.
“Well…”I begin. It will be interesting to see exactly what is going to come out of my mouth next.
Luckily, E had had quite enough of my pathetic prevarication, and had decided to take a stab in the dark himself (not the most sensitive of ways to put that, granted, but this is probably a perfect demonstration as to why a more competent parent really needs to be having this conversation right now instead of me).
“Do you take a tablet?”
“No, not really,” I reply, sorely tempted to say yes and be done with it.
“But it would be good if you could, and the tablet had the letter on it that your baby would be called,” he said.
Well, if you are going to redesign procreation, I suppose you could do worse. Mind you, I pity the poor sods who get the ‘Z ‘ tablet. There would be a lot more shouts across the park of “Zebedee, Zanzibar, time to go home!” that’s for sure.
I hamfistedly try to change the subject, being the cowardly, irresponsible parent that I am, by hypnotising him with talk of his next birthday, but even that glittering conversational prize does not swerve him from his mission.
“So, how does the baby get in?”
Can I say that it knocks? I sigh. “Well… there’s a seed.” Not quite the answer to the question he asked, but at least it is an answer, and one that is strictly true, if a little… lily-livered on my part.
“Who put it there?”
JUST STOP IT, WILL YOU? I scream. In my head. There is quite a lot of screaming going on in my head, as I cling on with whitened knuckles to this conversational cart which is careering wildly toward the edge of that nearby precipice, bumping and jolting the occupants mercilessly as it hurtles toward certain doom.
“Daddy,” I tell him.
I know what the next question is going to be. There can be only one question to follow that one. Am I really going to have to start telling him about daddy’s willy? Really?
On the plus side, at least we have never called that particular part of the male anatomy by some stupid name that would just make the explanation sound like some weird episode of In the Night Garden. On the other hand, it could be just the thing…
Derek Jacobi: “Ooh, look. Here’s Mr Winkie Dinkie! Hello, Mr Winkie Dinkie!” [Mr Winkie Dinkie waves to the viewer]
D.J.: “Hello, Upsie Daisy! Upsie Daisy, are you doing a jig?” [Upsie Daisy dances and her skirt lifts up]
D.J.: “My, Mr Winkie Dinkie, you’ve grown so tall! Is that a seed you are balancing on your head?” [Mr Winkie Dinkie nods carefully]
D.J.: “And are you going to give your seed to Upsie Daisy, Mr Winkie Dinkie?” (Mr Winkie Dinkie nods again, then points]
D.J.: “Oh, you want to do it in the Pinkie Ponk! Off you go then!”
STOP. Stop right now. I am making myself feel nauseous.
But perhaps children’s TV is not the right medium. Perhaps a well loved story would be the perfect vehicle to explain how babies are made? I can just imagine it…
We’re going on a baby hunt.
We’re going to make a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We’re not scared.
Uh-uh! A pink tunnel!
A deep warm tunnel.
We can’t go over it.
We can’t go under it.
Oh no! We’ve got to go through it!
Hmm. On second thoughts this is probably the single most idiotic idea I have ever had, and boy, there is stiff competition for that crown.
It’s no good. I am going to have to have The Talk.
And then, just as I am inhaling deeply in preparation, the clouds seem to part and the God of Lucky Fucking Escapes looks down on me, tosses his golden locks over his left shoulder, points his well-manicured finger in my direction and booms: “This is the last time, alright?”
“Is it karate tonight?” my son asks.