Little ones are very curious individuals and once talking starts, so do the endless questions. Here are six of the most awkward and embarrassing queries you’re likely to get from your quizzical child!
1. Where did I come from?
Ah that old chestnut. Yes, always a fine favourite with little kids who usually know how they came out of you (thanks to photos and such), but not how they got there in the first place. Of course there’s nothing wrong with older children knowing the truth about the birds and the bees, but when they’re preschoolers it’s a wee bit much for them to handle. I mean, do you really want to explain what intercourse is? Hell no! I’ve just stuck to the “Mummy and Daddy loved each other and really wanted you and then you started growing in my tummy” approach. A bonus for IVF users is that they can legitimately say doctors helped create their child from parts of Mummy and Daddy, otherwise failing that you could just say the stork delivered them to your belly or any other fairy-tale you might want to spin!
2. What are tampons?
Small children won’t ask this directly of course as they don’t know the word for tampons (or pads), but somehow they always manage to get their hands on them which leads to the inevitable – what is this? One of my boys even asked me once why I was wearing a nappy, after barging into the bathroom unannounced and seeing my post-birth sanitary pad while my pants were down. In both instances I’ve managed to skirt around the real deal by saying tampons and pads are just things that only mummies need (kind of like nail polish and hair straighteners), without going into the whole period thing. You could of course tell them the truth, although if you have a daughter do you really want to scare the bejeezus out of them at a super young age by telling them “…and one day you’ll bleed too”??
3. Where is your penis?
When kids are little there’s no way to avoid adult nudity at home. They follow you to the bathroom and often it’s necessary to have a shower or bath with them when they can’t be left unassisted. So they’re gonna see your junk (or lack of it to be more precise). I have three boys so “where is your penis?” and “why do you have a front bum instead of a willy?” have been popular questions in my household. Luckily they’re more funny than awkward though and I just say I don’t have one because I’m a girl, and I have a vagina instead (plus boobies).
4. Did this chicken used to be alive?
Uh-oh, the day will come when your child figures out that Mary’s little lamb is no longer frolicking in the fields but sitting in their dinner bowl instead. Chicken and lamb meat are the worst because they’re the same names as the animals themselves, so naturally they’re going to question what’s going on. One option is to pretend and say that it’s not the same chicken as the ones on farms with feathers, but this won’t last very long when a lot of books and cartoons openly indicate that many farm animals get eaten. Plus if they’re holding actual meat bones they’re going to put two and two together. The best approach is to gently explain that some animals become food for us (heart wrenching I know), but don’t worry they won’t be eating the cat anytime soon. You might be surprised at how well they’ll accept this tricky news.
5. Why does my willy get bigger?
Another one reserved exclusively for parents of boys! Don’t be shocked if you see erections really early on with your small boy (even babies can get them!), it’s completely natural and not necessarily sexual. Preschoolers might figure out that it can happen if they touch or rub it (another awkward issue all together), or it could start occurring in the early morning or when they’re having a tantrum (my least favourite). Either way, it’s gonna happen and they’re gonna ask you about it. I have always skirted around the issue and explained that sometimes penises get big or hard (just like the sky is blue, ahem), and to make sure they don’t touch it in front of other people. I’m sure I will have to do a whole lot more explaining about it when they get older but that should suffice for now.
6. When are you going to die?
Death is a part of life and you can’t hide it from small children, no matter how much you’d like to. Even if no relatives or friends close to them have died, they’re going to be exposed to it via family pets or books and movies, so it’s best to explain that every living thing dies (including the house plant you forgot to water last week). And when it comes to answering when you’re going to die, a good option is to say not for a very, very long time until maybe 100 and you get a letter from the Queen. Of course there is no way to know but you don’t want them to worry you’re going to cark it whenever you’re out of their sight. The same goes for when they ask when THEY are going to die (which they will ask too) – the answer being, even later than Mummy of course because they’re only little.
Phew, well that’s some of them covered. What’s the most awkward question your child has asked you?!