Last time I wrote about hopes, dreams, growing up, and other assorted weirdnesses. It got me thinking, how many of you have actually had the 'birds and bees' talk with your kids? Do you even go there? How do you explain? Do your kids even ask where they came from? Where babies come from?
My own parents never really had 'the talk' with me. It’s like parents go through this denial phase, where they don’t want to admit that their kids are growing up, and on the way to becoming adults. My only encounter with 'the talk' was when I had my first period and my mother wasn’t home when I called to tell her. She congratulated me and after a short pause, asked, “You know everything right?” I grunted an annoyed, “Yes” and hung up.
Yes, a twelve year old me was aware of the issues involved, but did not know 'everything.'
In our society it’s taboo to talk about 'these things' openly, without upsetting too many people. I’d like to say that you should have 'the talk' with your kids. Schools here do not offer sex education like abroad, so most of the time kids find out stuff through TV, movies, and their friends. If you are clear about stuff like that with your kids, then there’s an open channel for communication with them, in case they have questions. And for crying out loud, there’s nothing personal to take, it’s all biological and that’s how it should be treated. Kids these days are very smart and will probably already be aware of it all even before you approach them.
The other day, Jellybean was asking me if I had to cut open my tummy and take out a baby. I figured that she must have come across this phenomenon in one of those weird Youtube videos of games for children, where Elsa or Anna from Frozen are pregnant and need to be operated on to have the baby. Pushing my surprise aside and without going into the intricacies of a C-section, I explained that I might need to cut my tummy open when the time comes to have the baby. She accepted my explanation with a nod of approval and proceeded to 'operate' on my belly with her “hand” knife.
I find it really amusing the stories that parents tell kids, about where they came from, like the legendary stork which flies in with a baby, or how they prayed to God and a baby landed on their doorstep. Although sometimes when I’m really angry at Jellybean, I have threatened to return her to the store I got her from! Haha!
When my sister was little, she was a little different looking from the rest of us, and for many years I had lead her to believe that she as adopted, and we had found her in the trash. She would cry and wallow in self-pity until she finally grew up and realised that she did look like our parents and I was just being an evil older sister. Ahh, good old days!
Speaking of sibling torture, this colleague of mine, who is the middle child among three brothers, and whose younger brother was born after a significant gap. He and his older brother would mortify the youngest one, by telling him that he was actually a robot and they had built him for fun! Nevertheless, he grew up as well and realised that his two elder brothers were only pulling his leg. But as an older sibling, I totally approve of the creative genius!
Coming back to our main topic of discussion, I have decided that when Jellybean has a sibling, I'm going to be pretty straightforward about it. “Yo’ momma’s gonna have a baby, and it’s in her bellaaay!”
My reason for doing that is so that Jellybean accepts the possibility of another child in the vicinity early on. Young children tend to become very jealous and possessive when new babies arrive - I would know, I was three when my sister was born and had stopped apparently stopped eating out of jealousy. I used to climb into her crib and lie there, seeking attention from my parents.
To curb (and hopefully prevent) this odd (but obviously normal) behaviour, I will make Jellybean take responsibility and ownership of the new baby. I have seen that Jellybean likes to be treated as an equal, and responds positively to things she is responsible for. To test this, I asked her once, “Mamma is going to have a baby, will you help me take care of it?” To my surprise (and great relief), she nodded and said that she will feed it milk through a bottle!
Out of curiosity, I asked her if she will walk the baby to sleep, like how she made us as when she was little. She pondered for a while before answering, “Nah, amar paaye betha hobe.” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at how she gave me a taste of my own medicine. When I used to be too tired to walk her to sleep, I used to tell her that my legs were hurting so I couldn’t walk.
Kids really do say the darndest things!