I was driving when it happened. Blindsided.
“Mommy, how do you make a baby?”
I squinted at my 6-year-old in the rear view mirror. Then I quickly looked away. Focus on the road. Something else. Anything else.
I only had a few more seconds of avoidance left in this space. What was I going to say? I had the books, I knew what to say… I mean, I knew what to say way back when I read the books, but that was a long time ago, and now… oh, no! What the hell do I say? She’s only 6. Was the information I read appropriate for a 6 year-old? What if I started talking about penises and ovaries and the insertion of seed only to remember later that that’s what you say to an 8-year-old? My heart-stopped. I was about to add another dime to my child’s future therapy fund.
“Yes, honey?” Because maybe she had rethought her question and decided to ask another one.
“How do you make a baby?”
If anything, she was louder.
I began. “Well. You…. when a man and a woman…. I mean, one way is that when you love someone, you…the people involved… Hey look at that tent! They must be having a party!”
I pointed at a house covered in blue and yellow tarp. Exterminators.
She glanced. “Then what, mommy?” A 6-year-old cares not for pest control.
Just say the part about loving each other a lot. Maybe she’ll be happy with that. “They-they love each other,” I stumbled. “A lot.”
“But how do you MAKE a baby?”
Now she must be thinking I’m a flat out idiot. I can’t have Pearl growing up thinking her mother- her main female role model- doesn’t know the answers to basic scientific questions. I had already let her down the day she asked me if dragons were real and I just stared at her blankly. Quick! Come up with something. Save your reputation!
Then I remembered. Someone else had an interest in this topic a few months ago. She was two, but she had an answer. A solid answer. And she was sitting in the car seat next to her.
If it had been written about in the parenting books, it would be under the “Don’t Ever” section… but it seemed to be the only file my brain could access.
“Hey!” I exclaimed, my voice cracking. “I know someone who knows how babies are made.” I looked at my happy dimpled angel in the seat next to her. “Hey, Vivi! How do you make a baby? Pearlie wants to know.”
With a big smile my sweet side-kick raised her arm and made a big stirring motion. Like she was mixing batter.
“Like this!” she announced. Her face beaming with pride.
Because we are crafty up in this house, when we MAKE things we often use a wooden spoon and a bowl. Sometimes scissors. Sometimes glue.
Pearl smiled. Vivi kept on stirring.
“And we add some sprinkles!” she told us, tossing some in.
This seemed to satisfy Pearl.
And if I can avoid talking about “seed” for just a little while longer, I’m satisfied too.