Warning: This post may be awkward and offensive for some.
My son has reached the age where we've had chats about the birds and the bees. Yep, my almost 8 year old is more wise and more curious than I could have anticipated. They say a child from hard places can be half their age in emotional maturity, while twice their age in life and survival skills. And a lot of children from different cultures seem to hit puberty earlier than a child born in America. But I didn't consider that all of these factors would hit with an outpouring of his knowledge, and questioning for clarity on the things he didn't completely understand.
It all started last year, at the local zoo. (Note to parents who aren't prepared for "the talk", avoid the zoo during spring time.) My son noticed the gorillas being a little beyond friendly with each other, when he loudly exclaimed,
"MOM! Why are they twerking their butts together like that?!"
"They're just playing & hugging"
"With their whole bodies? And twerking?"
"Yeah, something like that."
Twerk... Thanks to that dance (if you want to call it that) term, I was able to wiggle myself out of an uncomfy talk for a bit longer.
But recently, the questions came like a freight train. And I, in complete shock, tried to jump off that track. But then I realized that if I jump aside and allow this train to go on, the momentum of curiosity will push his train of thought even further. And so, I jumped on board and tried my best to answer as many questions as I could, at a kid friendly level.
After getting super close to some mating bugs, the questions came:
"Why is it's peanut going like this?" (Makes an up and down motion with his finger)
"How does a floppy peanut do that? Does it get harder? Will mine do that? How will I know? When will it happen?"
"The girl hole isn't that big though, how does that work?"
Pause. I had to stop the convo and assure that this knowledge was based on assumptions. Let me assure you that it was. In other countries, people often bathe with swimsuits on, in an open body of water. Which means that they clean as modestly as they can, but it opened curiosity for my son. If you're parenting a child from another culture, I urge you to take a moment to consider what they may have already gained knowledge on, and prepare yourself to help guide their understanding in an age appropriate way.
Full speed ahead, his little mind was spitting questions as quickly as he could. Then came the puberty talk.
"Mom, what happens when I hit puberty?"
Ya know, voice gets deeper, you grow taller, get hair on your face...
"Mom, did you know that some guys even have hair on their nuts?!"
I mean, I couldn't stop this train. As a single mom, I admit that panic began to find it's way into my mind. This was a conversation that I felt would be much more appropriate coming from his dad, or a safe male in his life. But for some reason, he chose to only talk to me.
As I cringed inside, and tried to answer his questions the best I knew how, I too learned a lot from this experience. I learned that if I ignore the curiosity of my child, I allow someone else the opportunity to teach him, and I may not like what they have to teach. I learned that if our kids come to us with such big questions, they trust us to tell them truth (which can be kept kid friendly). I learned that the birds and bees talk can also be an opportunity to discuss respect for our own body, what's appropriate when it comes to others, modesty, and privacy.
These talks are some of the most uncomfortable talks, and I know there are more to come. But anytime my son feels comfy enough to come to me with stories of how "the girls hit me with their zucchinis (bikinis), and it was gross"; any time he chooses to ask me "why are those bugs stuck together?"; any time he asks me any question, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem, I'm not going to avoid it.
These are the parenting moments that are horrifying in the moment, but can be hilarious in hindsight. And one day, when my son is all grown up, I'll be thankful to have played a part in his maturity... And I'll be sure to write down all his questions and answers, so he can laugh, and be prepared to have those same uncomfortable chats with his own children.