The joys of parenthood are just too marvellous to be expressed in words; though I will be willing to do so for suitable payment.
But here let’s talk about the somewhat less beatific aspects of parenthood. As a new parent (unless you are Princess Kate, apparently), you will experience the sleeplessness and the mood swings and doesn’t-eat-anything-sensible and the bawling, barfing, burping, farting and pooping, sometimes simultaneously, all day every day. And that’s just you and your spouse. Your baby will be on another level.
Frazzled parents of infants are often told that things get better after the offspring’s Terrible Twos. Har. The Terrible Twos are followed by the Tortuous Threes, the Frightening Fours, the Feverish Fives and so on and on…like energy, parenting anxieties can never be destroyed; they only change form; as my mother can endorse (she’s currently going through her child’s Fatiguing Forties).
So now, after heaving a sigh of relief at accomplishing two toilet-trained tweens, I’ll have to soon unheave it and can no longer indefinitely delay tackling the parenting problem called How to Explain the Facts of Life to your kids, also known as the Birds and Bees Talk. If I could, I’d rather go back to the Odiferous Ones and kiss their diapers (the unused ones of course) once every hour than have this conversation with them. Alternatively, I’d rather have it after they get a post-graduate degree and can pay for their own car insurance.
I realize that’s just me in La La Land. I should be grateful that my kids are asking me this question in the first place; given that Siri can grant them comprehensive information in a matter of minutes, complete with, um, audio and video demonstrations from around the world.
There are many schools of thought of when and how to approach this important issue; ranging from ‘you were conceived when Mom and Dad kissed’ when they’re about five, to telling them the blunt truth when they hit double digits. Why I hesitate to tell them the truth is because the moment the science of baby-making sinks into their brains, they will be giving me and my spouse The DDS Look –Disappointed Disillusioned Scandalized, and I will have to step down the pedestal of motherly saintliness (okay, it’s not a very HIGH pedestal, but still) for good. In time, I know they will reconcile to the fact that their parents, quite unusually, on two distinct day/nights (two kids therefore two times strictly. That’s going to be my party line) during their married lives, for not an insignificant quantum of time, were not, as it were, busy fighting over the remote control. But still the fear of that DDS look haunts me. I tried a bureaucratic explanation one time and said that a couple who wanted to have kids had to submit an application to God; who reviews it, judges whether that couple will be good parents; and then dispatches kids accordingly. My daughter gave me a puzzled look and said, ‘but why did you have to apply for a boy?’. My son enquired if it was possible to re-apply for a Monitor Lizard in exchange for his sister. But the overall takeaway was polite scepticism.
So my kids are gradually becoming less and less inclined to see me as a Fount of Wisdom. As my euphemisms get wilder and wilder, my kids are probably thinking: perhaps their Mom don’t know the answer herself. That’s ironic, because this is the one answer I don’t have to Google up to explain to them (unless Apple has invented a more high-tech lazy-boy version of intimacy I don’t want to know about: I-Phone I-Pad I-Pleasure). So they are trying to work things out on their own. The other day my daughter asked me if the souls of kids just keep floating around in the atmosphere, and when a woman starts hankering for a kid, she just inhales a soul in through her nostrils and gulps it all the way down to the tummy. I firmly said yes.
For some reason, she now frowns heavily when she sees me doing deep breathing exercises.
No easy way, to sum. The popular opinion today is to make kids as aware as possible as quickly as possible. Perhaps we’ll soon be gently whispering the Facts to the baby in our womb, hoping by natural osmosis she or he will know everything without needing that awkward discussion.
Of course when I say ‘we’ I mean some poor parent-to-be. I’m done for this lifetime.