I responded: “Couples often pray and ask God to give them a baby…”
That was the truth!
What you could understand of it, anyway. You rewarded my honesty with more questions. I’ve recounted our conversation here.
“How does the baby come out?” You wondered.
“The baby grows in the mommy’s uterus and comes out an opening.”
You thought about that. “Where is the opening?”
“What are some openings in your body?”
“My mouth, my nose, my penis, my butt ... Babies don’t come out of your butt, do they?”
“No, they don’t. Do girls have different openings than boys?”
“They don’t have a penis.”
“Right. They have a hole for pee, one for No. 2, and one called ‘the vagina,’ where babies comes out.”
(Really big eyes.) “A hole gets THAT BIG?”
“Yep. Isn’t it amazing?”
You wanted the next puzzle piece.
“I know how a baby gets out. How does it get in there in the first place?
Yeah, God gives it, but how?”
“The baby comes from a fertilized egg. The mommy provides the egg; the daddy gives his ‘seed,' called sperm.”
“How do the egg and ‘seed’ get inside the mom?”
"The egg is already inside.”
“How does the seed get in?”
“It is sort of ‘injected.’ If a couple is having trouble getting pregnant, they do ‘artificial insemination.’ A doctor puts the man’s sperm into the woman’s body. Some of our friends did that. You were conceived the traditional way.”
“Through ‘sexual intercourse’ between a husband and wife in private, not in a clinic."
“How does that work?”
“A man and a woman’s bodies come together. The sperm transfers from the man to the woman.”
Then you wanted to know: “What exactly is ‘sex?' And I’m not talking about whether you’re a boy or girl, like you told me when I was little.”
I wanted to be sure: “You mean the act of sexual intercourse?”
For the first time in our talk, I was dumbfounded. How would I explain? To one so young? I noticed your nightlight, casting shadows on your sweet face. A light bulb came on in my mind.
I spoke words given supernaturally in the nick of time!
“You’ve done electrical projects with Dad, right?”
“In electricity, there are ‘male’ and ‘female’ components, named after the human body. The male part is outside his body. It fits into the female part. Can you picture that?”
Now the light bulb was coming on in your mind.
I continued: “The sperm travels from the penis into the vagina and up further where it meets the egg, fertilizing it. That moment is called ‘conception.’ Pretty incredible how life begins!”
“You mean a man and woman’s body actually fit together like that?”
“Yep. That’s why at weddings they say that ‘the two shall become one flesh.’ That’s sex, but it’s also a child. Isn’t that something?”
(Amazed.) “I’ll say.”
Another question: “Does sex only happen when a man and woman want to have a baby?”
“No. Sex is a fun part of marriage and one of the greatest forms of expression that we can have.”
“What if two people who aren’t married have sex? Does a baby happen every time?”
I had a question: “Why do you ask? Has someone been talking about ‘having sex?' Are you worried about a relationship like that?”
You answered: “I’m not worried. Some kid was talking about it.”
“Oh. A woman could get pregnant, or not. It depends upon her cycle — when the egg is ‘released.’”
Then, I shared what I most wanted you to know about the mystery of sexual attraction.
“It’s not only bodies that are united. Hearts and spirits join too. Some people —actually a lot of people — think it’s OK to come together with just about anyone. I believe sex is too special for that. People can experience tremendous hurt. When we enter into a sexual relationship before we really know a person, it can make us feel closer to that person than we actually are, and mask other issues. Plus, the bonding is not just physical; it’s spiritual. Sex is called a ‘profound mystery’ for a reason! Our minds and spirits are affected long after the physical act is over. We remain bonded with the other person, and that can leave ‘gunk’ for us to deal with during or after a relationship. We end up feeling lonely and confused by the very thing we hoped would fulfill us. We carry that baggage into marriage. It’s my hope for you that you will treasure your sexuality enough to wait to express your love that way with just the right person — the one you marry.”
That was our conversation. If you don’t remember every detail, I hope you’ll remember the feelings, because our TALK has been a precious part of our relationship. I wouldn’t change one thing about it. Keep asking, son!
If my son was very young when he asked that first question and I resolved to give only as much information as was age-appropriate, how, you ask, could he have understood all of this?
The thing about THE TALK is that it didn’t happen all in one day ... or in a week or even a month but over years as my son grew and developed cognitively, emotionally and spiritually.
Every line represents passing time: days, weeks, months. Because we talked openly about matters of sexuality, the questions followed a logical progression. The TALK is not over; I look forward to all we’ve yet to share.
Dear Patch Reader, I hope you, too, will have the words to respond truthfully and openly to your child’s questions. When you’re not sure how to respond, know that it’s OK to say, “Let me think on that,” or “What do you think?” These, too, are honest responses.