A couple weeks ago, The Big Sis and I were talking at bedtime, and somehow our discussion led to topics involving reproduction. I feel I’ve always done a good job in answering her questions honestly, specifically, and in an age-appropriate manner, but this time she asked exactly HOW the sperm (or seed, as we call it with her) gets to the egg. She then proposed curiously, “Do you swallow it?” I admit it: I crumbled in the moment. I said, “Something like that — we can talk about that some other time.” And then changed the subject. Mom talk fail!
Part of my fail was because it’s sometimes an embarrassing topic to tackle. But it’s also because there are a lot of other things to understand before getting to that part, so I figured it was time to find some books that tackle these very topics. At the recommendation of many friends, I found American Girl’s “The Care and Keeping of You” (the one for younger girls) at the library and brought it home last week. It starts out innocently enough, covering other health topics related to growing up, including braces, taking care of your face, and showering. After our first night reading it together, The Big Sis said, “Do you think we can buy this book? I might want to keep it for information later. And [The Little Sis] might like to read it later too.” I assured her that yes, we’d read it together first, and if she thought she might want a copy of her own, we could certainly buy her one. Each night she’s been eager to read this book with me, which is saying something because usually she prefers to read with The Husband instead of me.
A few nights ago we covered breast development, and now she’s super-excited to get a training bra (especially because one of her best friends has one). I hadn’t planned to do that this early, but I figure I should take advantage of her eagerness; I remember going out with my mom when I was in 6th grade or so, and I was just mortified to be doing it with her. I don’t want either of my girls to feel that way, so I should probably strike while the iron is hot.
I don’t believe this book gets into sperm-meets-egg topics, but it does cover periods, which isn’t a subject she was familiar with at all. After she got over her surprise about it, she had some good questions, and wanted to see the types of sanitary products they mention. I don’t have a period now (thanks, Mirena!), but I do still have a bathroom cabinet full of such products, so I opened each of them and showed her what they were like and how to use them. She asked to try them on, which I let her do with the various pantyliners and pads (not the tampons, though), and she cracked me up when she said, with a huge pad on, “Hrm, this is pretty comfortable!” Haha! I’m not going to sway her any differently; if that’s what she thinks, then I’ll let her continue thinking that! I figure no need to make it into a big deal, or something that she’ll dread.
We’re not quite finished with the book yet, but so far it’s been a good way to approach these topics that might otherwise not be addressed in a complete manner. My mom didn’t explain any of this stuff to me, and while obviously I figured it out, I want to make sure my girls know that I can be a good resource for this information, in addition to what they’ll learn from books, school, and their peers.