“Daddy,” Natalie said from the back of the car – which seems to be the place all our deep conversations start – “How do you make a baby?”
“How do you think it gets there?” I countered. So much for a quiet ride home.
“Kissing? Through your spit?”
“Nope. But kissing’s involved.”
“Natalie,” I said. “Inside you are a bunch of eggs..”
“Yes eggs. Very tiny eggs. You’re born with them in something called your ovaries. A man has something called sperm inside his body and he puts them into the woman and, when sperm meets egg, you get a baby.”
“Wait a minute,” Natalie said, “Then how does that sperm get to the egg?”
“It is that molping stuff?” Nat said. Whenever my daughter sees a couple kissing open mouthed on TV, she screeches, covers her eyes and says, “Ew! They’re molping.”
“No,” I said. “It’s not the molping stuff.”
“Then what is it? Is it S-E-X? Tell me!”
It has been my policy to answer all my daughter’s questions about sex with forthrightness and age appropriate honesty. Today, however, my courage failed me. I just wasn’t up for discussing the horizontal mambo with a nine year old. “You’re a little young for all the details, Nat,” I said. “But the man puts the sperm inside the woman, it swims up to the egg and that’s how babies are made.”
“Not fair, Dad. You’re not telling me the juicy parts!” JUICY?
I toyed with the idea of giving Natalie the basics, but I just couldn’t bring myself to say the word penis. So, I went with something I’ve told teenagers who, although they grasp all the anatomical ins and outs, know very little else. “Natalie,” I said. “When they’re young, kids are very interested in the hows about sex but not the whys.”
“People get overly focused on the plumbing – the juicy parts. What goes where and how. That’s important to know, but why people have sex is much more important.”
“Then why do have people have sex?”
“Love, my dear. Love. And when it’s time for you to start thinking about sex and babies I want you to know one thing; make sure the man you’re with loves you for you. Not what for what he wants you to be or for what you might become one day.”
“So,” Natalie said, “When can I get a cell phone?” My daughter had hit her informational absorption limit and changed the subject. I wasn’t arguing.
“You can get a cell phone when you’re thirty,” I said.
“Cell phones are very expensive.”
“How much do you pay?”
“Enough,” I said. Actually, I haven’t paid for a cell phone in ten years. It’s a company phone – a perk of marrying the bosses’ daughter.
Later that evening, when my wife got home, I gave her a rundown of my conversation with Natalie.
“Juicy?” Annie said. “She’s learning that stuff on the school bus from the fifth graders.”
“Ah,” I said. “The school bus, the place from which all evil things flow.”
“Our little girl wants to grow up so fast.”
“Well,” I said. “She’s right about one thing.”
“Sex is kind of juicy.”