When my son was three or four, I got one of those calls from the daycare lady that a mom totally dreads. Because I have callerID, I’m always freaked out the second I see her number anyway, so she always starts her calls the same way.
“He’s okay, don’t worry…” Except this time she added, “But we REALLY need to talk.”
My heart started beating rapidly. “Uh, okay, what is it?”
She then proceeded to explain to me how little Romeo got caught trying to scam a little girl into showing him her private parts. I sat down with a thump into my chair.
“You have GOT to be kidding me.” I was completely embarrassed and mortified. This was my first kid — what do I know about this stuff?
“I wish I were kidding you. If it happens again, he can’t come back.”
My kid is in peril of getting fired from daycare, an awesome daycare with a waiting list.
Here’s the thing… when I became a parent I had my whole “sex talk” planned in advance. I wasn’t going to be one of those weird awkward parents who freaked out trying to figure out how to explain all the parts and how everything worked. We’d use all the right words and be very matter-of-fact and… blah, blah, blah. That was my plan for when I explained it to my son when he was EIGHT, not FOUR. This was totally not going according to schedule. My schedule anyway.
There are several lessons to be learned here:
1) Kids don’t advance on your schedule — they do it on their own schedule.
2) Just because your kid invites another kid to show off their “stuff” doesn’t mean he or she is a predatory weirdo. It means they have a healthy curiosity and that’s your cue to satisfy that curiosity.
In my particular case, my son is very interested in science and biology. He wasn’t happy with mere explanations. It was driving him crazy knowing there was a difference between boys and girls but not really understanding HOW they were different. He’s like all of us… if we want to know something, we go find out the information. The difference is we know better than to ask someone to lift her dress up.
A Book About Bodies
I found THE COOLEST book to explain not only the body parts, but all the functioning as well. It’s called It’s Not the Stork: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends by Robie Harris.
This is a great book for a number of reasons. It’s very basic and starts at the very beginning with basic anatomy and goes all the way up to how to make babies and how they get from the inside to the outside. It also covers the topic of “touching” — what’s appropriate and not appropriate among family and friends. It’s written in understandable language, so if you feel awkward about explaining things in your own words, you don’t have to. All you have to do is read.
The illustrations are tasteful and fun. It’s a great, non-intimidating book and I highly recommend it.
When we started the book I let my son turn the pages as he wanted. We got through all the body parts and he looked at a little bit of the baby stuff, but lost interest at a point in the book that I felt was a little more advanced than he needed to go. But it was natural for him to stop there and part of that is probably because of the way the book is written.
Armed with this book I felt completely confident in my ability to explain any level of “birds and bees” to him. And the greatest thing about the book is that it fixed the problem — his curiosity was satisfied in a healthy and appropriate manner and we’ve never had a problem since. And he knows the book is there, too. At any time it’s easy for him to ask to read more of it. It’s comfortable for everyone in the household.
I can’t recommend the book enough. They also have sequels for older children. Go check them out!