Childrearing

This Book Forgot A Really Important Part Of The Baby Making Process

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books-that-explain-sex-to-kidsWe need more books that explain sex to kids. Why? Talking to your kids about sex is a huge drag. It is where the urge to speak candidly about clinical baby makin’ collides with not wanting to corrupt their innocence with too many sordid details.

Unfortunately, good books that explain sex to kids are a little hard to come by. I’ve Googled enough iterations of “child sex book” to land myself on a watch list. Options range from the outdated to the guilt-inducing to the outright ridiculous. The Baby Tree, by Sophie Blackall, on the other hand, is just about perfect. It’s sweet, adorable, and well-written. There’s just one problem. It kind of skips over the whole, you know, sex part.

I happen to think that books that explain sex to kids can be really valuable tools, because  baby making is hard to explain. My first attempt went something like this:

“Okay, so daddies have penises, and mommies have vaginas, so when the daddy puts his penis in a mommy’s vagina–hang on, back up, any chance you know what an ovary is? Okay, so an ovary…”

Plus there’s the caveats to take care of; wanting to be sensitive to couples that use IVF, same sex couples that use AI, same sex couples that adopt, single parents that adopt, hetero couples that adopt, etc. It’s a lot of information. If I could outsource it I could, since we’ve already established that whatever I’m doing isn’t working-for some reason the sex talk just isn’t taking.

That’s why I was so excited to see The Baby Tree. It’s from the same woman who wrote Ivy and Bean, so you know it’s going to be good, and it is. Mostly.

The pictures and story are great; it’s all about a little boy trying to answer the age-old question, “where do babies come from?” and it’s pretty cute; no one wants to tell him, so they answer with replies like “eggs” and “the hospital” and “the stork”, all nebulous answers that leave him very confused.

I don’t take any issue with that. I tell my kid about sex, but I’ll never tell your kid about sex. Nicely done, other adults in the story.

So of course the little guy goes to his parents and we think, “Yes! Some answers!” I leaned in really close to the preview page here, because I could use some help in this department. That’s when the parents answer:

“‘From inside their mom,’ says mom.’They start off really tiny,’ says dad.’Almost too small to see,’ says mom. ‘They begin with a seed from their dad…Which gets planted in an egg inside their mom…The baby grows in their for nine months…Until it runs out of room..And it’s ready to be born…Sometimes at home…But usually in the hospital.'”

Um, wut? I mean, yes, this is technically all correct but I can’t help but feel that maybe all of those ellipses were placeholders for something more important but someone forgot to put it in.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should explain to kids about the more-erm, graphic-parts of sex. You don’t need to explain in graphic detail how everything goes down, but I think at some point you need to talk about the whole penis in vagina thing. It’s not like you have a choice.

I say that because as you read this to a little kid, any little kid at a certain point of inquisitiveness, they’re going to ask you to cut the bullshit and tell you how daddy’s seed gets into mommy’s egg. Then what are you gonna do?

I think this book is really cute and very well written, and I love the illustrations. But I also think we need to find a happy medium between vague pictures of smiling spermatozoon and an illustrated copy of The Story of O.

I might get a book like this anyway for a friend with younger kids, because I think it’s a good place to start if you’re feeling a little tongue-tied. But I’ll have to continue my search for a more detailed but not porn-y book for my older kid.

(Image:Sophie Blackall/Barnes&Noble)