The birds and the bees
DD, who’s now nine, has, to date, lacked any interest whatsoever in the facts of life. I know some people’s children start asking questions quite early on but I’ve managed so far to dodge the whole issue of the birds and the bees simply because DD hasn’t yet asked a difficult question.
That all changed on Saturday.
Picture the scene: all four of us in the car, going out for lunch.
‘Mummy,’ pipes up DD, apropos of nothing at all. ‘Why are there males and females in the world? I mean, why isn’t there just one sex? Why do we have to be different?’
‘Yes, Mummy,’ says DH, beaming at me and rubbing his hands with glee. ‘Why is that?’
I’m driving, for goodness sake! On the highway! My mind is otherwise occupied!
‘Well…’ I say. ‘Because… umm… goodness! What a good question!’
The thing is, DD is old enough to hear the facts of life and I’m happy to tell her (with the aid of an age-appropriate text book, of course). But we’re in the car with DS – aged five – who’s all mischievous ears and, to my mind, still too young to be told about any other wonderful things he can do with his willy.
I’d imagined this conversation would take place in DD’s bedroom – DD and I alone somewhere planned, not ad hoc in the fast lane of Emirates Road. I think about fobbing her off, but then opt for a halfway-house of a reply:
‘Well, because, to reproduce – you know, to have babies – you need a male and a female. And if you didn’t have both, the human race would die out.’
I nod to myself: well dodged Mrs D.
‘But,’ says DD after a pause, ‘what does the male do? What does he contribute? I know the female has the eggs and the baby grows in her and stuff. But why is the dad needed? What does he add?’
There’s a silence as I think about what to say, then DH jumps in.
‘The money,’ he says. ‘The dad contributes the money.’