I’m happy to say it wasn’t our dog that unknowingly initiated the birds and bees talk with Hailey this time; it was the preschool reading program. Every Thursday, Hailey’s preschool sends home four new books with each child to read with his or her parents. Hailey loves this program, and when we get home from school on Thursdays, she eagerly tears open the book bag and we read all four books immediately. Now, the school flyer in the book bag advises parents to go through the books before reading them to the kids, but I never have been one for reading instructions. So, on this particular Thursday, we dive into the books, and pick up one titled, The Last Puppy. Sounds lovely. (Sidenote: I just realized all of Hailey’s birds and bees lessons do have some link to dogs, even if just tangentially. I’ll have to have a good think about this later.) We open the first page of The Last Puppy and are treated to a delightful illustration of a dog giving birth. Not once, but NINE times.
“Why is there a puppy coming out of that dog’s butt?” Hailey asks. She doesn’t sound horrified or anything…in fact, she’s a little nonchalant about it if you ask me. So, on a quiet Thursday afternoon, this mommy has a 20-minute, “Why babies come out of mommies’
butts vajajays” talk with her 3 and a half year old.
Hailey has been around enough pregnant women that she asked me how babies get in mommies’ tummies well before she was 3. So we discussed families being ready to have a child, God putting a baby in a mommy’s tummy, and a baby growing in there until he or she is ready to be born. When she has asked how the baby comes out, I gave her a very tame explanation of my c-section, as she was not unfamiliar with the idea of operations, her dad having nearly severed his finger a year ago and her uncle having crushed his elbow in a biking accident around the same time. I figured these explanations were enough for her maturity level at the time, and the discussion about the biology of conception and childbirth could wait a while. She seemed to really understand the concept up to this point, and now, with another pregnant aunt, she has a good grasp of how the baby is growing, etc. Now that we’ve read The Last Puppy, however, I think she’s worried for what her Aunt Kiki faces in a few months.
When I finished my Last Puppy-inspired, toned down version of labor and childbirth, Hailey turned to me and said, “That sounds like it hurts.”
What to do? I wondered. Do I sugar coat this one for her?
Instead I took another tack.
“It does, honey. It hurts very much.”