The big questions: birds and bees and … whales

Allison Tait blog
Posted on August 23, 2013

photo[2]Mr6 has become a devotee of nature documentaries. He will sit and watch penguins migrate for hours. This new habit brings with it much new information – and a few new challenges.

Last week, we were lolling about the living room, watching an episode of David Attenborough’s Life Of Mammals (or somesuch), when we were suddenly confronted with the mating habits of whales. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen whales mate, but once seen, it can never be unseen.

“What’s that?” asked Mr6, watching the male whale thrashing about in the ocean, rocking and rolling.

“That’s his penis,” I said, remembering all advice to name body parts correctly.

“What’s he doing with it?” said Mr6, in awe (whales are big all over).

“He’s trying to make babies with the lady whale,” I said.

Much discussion followed about eggs and fertilising and tadpoles and I thought we were all on the same page until he refused to eat his bacon and eggs for dinner the following night because he was worried the eggs were fertilised.

Back to the drawing board.

Last night, we were reading Harry Potter, laughing at Gilderoy Lockhart and generally feeling the love. Then, mid-sentence, he poked my stomach.

“How do babies get in there?” he asked. (He’s always been very good at this – throwing out the big questions in the midst of daily life…)

“Oh, er, the Mummy and Daddy have a special cuddle,” I prevaricated. This has always been a good enough answer. Right up until now.

“And?” he prompted. “What does that mean?”

I began explaining the technical details, but the furrow in his brow became deeper and deeper… I flailed about for inspiration, trying to follow the expert advice and explain it in child-friendly terms.

Inspiration struck.

“Remember the whale on the documentary? Like that!”

He nodded slowly. Then his expression became pained. (As I said, once seen…)

“Does it hurt when the baby goes in?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

“Does it hurt when it comes out?”

“Oh yes,” I responded, with feeling.

He patted my tummy. “Sorry, Mum,” he said, and then indicated I should continue reading.

And so I did.

And then made a note to buy ‘Where did I come from?’ at the very next opportunity.

Have you had ‘the chat’ with your kids? How did it go?


  1. Helen K

    Ha! – always fun conversations! My son came up with the term ‘special cuddle’ too, but clearly didn’t know what it meant, because he kept asking to be part of it next time we ‘did the special cuddle’. Hasn’t asked for a while, so I think he has gained some understanding that he – and we -wouldn’t actually want this (bit by bit part of his understanding about how babies are made is being filled in, as he asks only just enough to absorb at one time, thankfully).

    My daughter, on the other hand, has not learned about privacy in bathrooms, and opened the door on me mid period, so to speak. Kerry Sackville – what is it with 5 year old girls?? I like my own space, particularly at that time of the month, but this didn’t seem to bother her – it was merely an opportunity to be typically chatty. She also started to unravel the tampon because, clearly that’s what girls – like me and her – have to do (fortunately she then thought the better of copying me fully and stopped at the unwrapping). Also, like most little kids, she has this horror of blood (every slight scratch is worthy of being pointed out, kissed, bandaged, etc) but she accepted my explanation that ‘yes, most Mummy’s have this bleeding, yes, once a month, yes, it can hurt a bit (sometimes a lot but I didn’t want to go there), but it is worth it because it means we can have babies – otherwise I couldn’t have had you and your brother – and no, it is not something that you need to worry about for yourself for a few years yet. And I am fine – yes, I guess this is SORT OF a bandaid’. Feel like I got out of it fairly lightly , given where some of her conversations go (luckily she didn’t continue like Kerry’s girl). And I also realise that, as she is the youngest, we can now get locks on the bathroom without as much worry that my kids will lock themselves in – and that’s what we have done!

  2. Jody at Six Little Hearts

    Thankfully I have artfully dodged all requests up until school can take care of the facts for me!
    Sounds like the whales made quite an impression though! 😀

  3. Jodi

    I really struggle with divulging information re. how babies are made. There is a part of me that wants to be open and honest but then there’s an even bigger part of me that thinks they should remain oblivious for as long as possible – why do they need to know all that grown-up stuff now?

    My partner and I were talking about how we’ll discuss sex once our children are tweens/teens and he came across this fascinating article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ferrett-steinmetz/dear-daughter-i-hope-you-have-awesome-sex_b_3755185.html – go dad!

  4. JodiGibson (@JFGibsonWriter)

    Miss 7 told me quite frankly the other day that ‘sexy’ means a mum and a dad cuddle and have a baby, and that she will never be sexy.
    God or someone please help!

  5. Emily

    Oh, he apologised. So adorable!

  6. Olivia

    ha. I just saw your book on the RHS and put two and two together (blonde) and realised you’re Bron’s sister- no wonder I love reading your blog too! You girls are good!
    As for “the talk” we were forced to give it earlier than expected b/c Mr 8 told me he knew what sex was and gave a VERY descriptive definition and finished it off with “….and it’s pleasurable for one or two people” (I almost crashed the car, no joke)

  7. Olivia

    haha, we saw that doco too….a few traumatised kids (and adults) here too!

  8. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen

    Why do they always floor you with one of those questions right out of the blue?? Just when you’re all comfortable and unsuspecting…..POW!
    Mine saw that doco at school and was a little bit rattled 🙂

  9. Chris Bailey

    I think. . .we somehow kinda slid right past THAT talk. Not sure how. The questions just didn’t come up. Ms29 is now planning a May wedding. I guess I can’t put it off any longer!

  10. Zanni Louise

    Surprisingly, yes – tonight! But my child is only 3.5, so it was quite easy and not too embarrassing. With a Dutch father and a blogger for a mother, there aren’t really any secrets in our house unfortunately (maybe). x

  11. Sam Stone

    We saw that same documentary and you are right, it cannot be unseen! Little miss has been asking for ages about how babies get made and I tell her about sperm and eggs – thankfully she hasn’t asked yet about how the sperm gets to the egg 🙂

  12. Naturally Carol

    Ha ha! Good idea! I hope the book goes down well!

  13. ally

    We’ve just had growing up programme at school – I got told that Miss 8 knew the 2 ways to get pregnant. Oh, says me. Yes she says – the kind of gross way and the way with the petri dish.
    I’m thinking whale sex may have been more up her alley!

  14. Kerri Sackville

    No sympathy. NONE. Baby making is easy. Try explaining tampons to a 5yo. ‘Mum, what are they? WHAT? WHY do you bleed? What is lining? But how does the lining know there’s no baby?’ and AD INFINITUM.
    It was last week. I’m still shaking.


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