I remember watching the National Geographic channel one day with my then four-year-old son. It was a program on the birth of a baby elephant. My son watched in awe as the screen showed a slippery, slimy elephant calf slide out onto the ground with a thud. The camera then focussed on the calf’s privates, to show that it was a male. “Male,” said the voice on screen.
“Male? Does this mean females have something different?” my son asked, curiously. I did not expect that to come so early.
“Err, uhm mm,” I fumbled, and changed the topic. “Look, a blue lion!” I shouted, and the awkward question was forgotten. Phew!
My son soon turned five and had begun to read pretty fluently. Once he saw me filling up a bank account opening form. “S…e…x. Sex. What is sex?” He asked, looking directly into my eyes. “It’s err, urrrmmm a word for something in the bank….” I began to sweat.
“I mean that, in the paper,” he said, pointing to the ‘sex: male or female’ column. “Oooohhh,” I said, and the doorbell rang. Pheww!
When he was five-and-a-half, he had another question. “Mom, why do girls sit down and pee and boys stand and do it?”
I looked uncomfortable again. “Well, sometimes they like to sit…. wait a minute, how do you know?” I suddenly snapped into attention.
“Well I saw a cartoon that showed a girl sitting down to use the bathroom,” he said and ran off. “What was this cartoon now?” But Phewww!
Then as a six-year-old, the questions were frequent. “Mama, how are babies made?”
Well, I was prepared for this.
“So, the Mumma has an egg in her body and when this meets with a sperm given by the daddy, a baby is formed,” I spoke confidently.
“So, when is your laying time?” The boy asked, munching on some chips.
“What?” I asked.
“When will you lay your egg?” He asked again, still munching on chips.
“I’ll get you more chips,” I said, walking out. Phewwww! And cluck cluck.
Few months later, the stuff that nightmares are made of happened. The boy walked in on my husband and me getting cosy.
He froze, turned away and stood in a corner. We were embarrassed, but thankful that we were still clothed. It could’ve been worse.
“Come here son,” my husband called. The boy walked shiftily towards us. “What you saw there was uh, some wrestling between your mom and I,” he started.
Our son didn’t look convinced. “Alright,” he said and ran out. Pheww! (from me), pheww! (the husband).
Few more days later he came running to me and yelled, “Mom! Stop what you’re doing, I know what sex means!” Of course, I stopped what I was doing.
“Giriraj from my bus said sex is something personal between a mummy and daddy. They kiss and hug and then get a baby. Boys have a penis and girls don’t. That’s how mummies get the sperm from the daddies. Then the sperm meets the egg and a baby is baked in the mummy’s tummy for nine months and then he’s born,” he finished triumphantly and walked away with his head held high.
Well phew, and shame on me. Thank you, Giriraj.
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