Or rather, the title to this should be, “How I talk to Amanda about body parts and sex.”
As you well know, I’m more than prepared to answer any and every question Amanda might have. This dedicated and intense parenting is, I suppose, part and parcel of only having the one child. I’d much rather she get her information from a trusted source (ie. me) than her equally clueless peers, or worse still, in time to come, the internet.
This topic reared it’s innocuous head when a friend of mine posted a status update on facebook (yes, we live there half the time), about the awkwardness of explaining childbirth to her curious son. Her son and my daughter, even though they’ve yet to meet, living 4175 km away and continents apart, are the same age.
Reading the comments already there, it occurred to me that many parents, especially Asian, have the same problem of discussing genitals, procreation and childbirth with their offspring. In that regard, parents of my generation haven’t progressed all that far from our own parents’ generation. I commented, “I always wondered how a conversation like this would go with a boy, instead of a girl.”
My friend responded by asking me how my talk with Amanda has gone so far.
“Very well, ” I said. “I decided honesty is the best policy and have thereby named the ahem, third orifice, muff. So there is pe pe (pronounced pear pear) where we do pee pee from, bum bum where we do poo poo from and there is muff, between the two.”
Muff was the name my friend Nadia in Townsville taught me. Nadia once explained, “I don’t want my kids to think they came out with all the poo.” Which, as far as I’m concerned, is more traumatising than the discovery of a third orifice down there.
Let’s rewind to when Amanda was between 3 and 3 1/2 years old. Clue-y even then, she approached her father and me while we were in the middle of coitus. Ok, before you call child services, do know that no body parts of ours, save my head, was visible from under the thick blankets. The reason why we left the bedroom door open is so that Amanda wouldn’t be thrown into a panic by our sudden absence and hence trash at the door, spoiling whatever it is we were trying to do.
She neared my exposed head and what she said next told me that she and I will be having many long conversations: ” Is Papa putting a peddle in your bum?”
The body parts may be wrongly identified but what was interesting, and you’d have to agree with me, was her being able to grasp the concept, sight unseen, that something goes into something else. And no, we don’t expose her to pornographic films either. At the time, the only kids she ever played with were those her age – four and under – who went to Sunday school at church.
So later that year, I bought her a book with overlapping plastic slides to show the inside of the human body. I told her which organ was which and using the male and female figures, showed her how boys and girls, men and women, mummies and daddies, are built differently. She had been showering with either HRH or me from toddlerhood so this physical difference was something she was already familiar and comfortable with. There was no, “Eee ye…shame shame,” which many Chinese parents are fond of saying to their naked offspring when changing them; nothing to make Amanda think or feel that the naked human body is unseemly or disgusting. HRH allowed her to see him take a leak, or sit on the throne and I did likewise. HRH even said she should get used to it because she’ll have to change his diapers when he grows old.
When Amanda turned 5, I happened across Per Holm Knudsen’s “How Babies are Made”. I showed her the book and it led to a discussion about sex, love, baby-making.
“You don’t go making babies with people up and down the road,” I said. “Baby-making is only for mummies and daddies – grown-up, responsible, adults.”
Recently, I continued our conversation on the topic by showing Amanda “Conception to birth – visualised” by Alexander Tsiaras. Here it is, so you may check it out.
Contrary to promoting promiscuity or teenage pregnancy, research has found that discussing sex with your children to actually help reduce incidences of both.