By Kelly Hines, author of the blog Southern Fried Children

“So you see, the sperm from the penis fertilizes the egg…”
“But how does the sperm get to the egg?”

Oh. Oh oh oh oh. Here it is, the moment I’ve been preparing diligently for. I clear my throat and level my gaze at my 10 year old daughter, her eyes wide with curiosity and innocence. I am about to blow her mind.

We’ve never been shy about telling it like it is. Menstruation? Check. How babies grow inside the womb? Check. How they get out of there? Check. I never did the fussy names for genitals, thinking using the clinical ones would take all the mystery and shame out of it. Vagina. Penis. Testicles. When she was 3 and pointed down there during a bath one night, asking “What’s this?”, I didn’t say “That’s your wanky wanky in your yoni.” I said “That’s your clitoris.” From the living room, I heard my husband gasp and fall out in a dead faint. It hasn’t always worked in our favor. Our middle child spent 3 months calling me a vagina – often, loudly, and publicly. MY MOMMY’S A GINA is quite the conversation starter.

But sex is different. It takes something that has been a completely biological process – this is what my body does – to something interactive. This is what my body does with another body. And, it’s squicky to talk about sex with your kids. I am far from a prude, but discussing the mechanics of intercourse with my kid is just…weird.

The key, I thought, was to be very matter of fact about things. My plan of attack was simple: review the female reproductive system, introduce the male reproductive system, then put them together. Easy enough, right? I even Googled some pictures and diagrams. This is going to be a breeze. I chose my moment carefully. The baby was sleeping, the 4 year old was occupied, no new episodes of I Carly were imminent, no one needed to use the bathroom. The stars were aligned, the time was right.

Everything was clicking right along. There were no nervous titters or uncomfortable silences. My parents had simply handed me a series of books entitled “The Life Cycle Library” and walked away. If you think finding out about sex is traumatic for an 8 year old, imagine it lovingly illustrated in 1970s era watercolors (hairy pits and all)! I was feeling smug in my parenting superiority.

Until we got to:
“But how does the sperm get to the egg?”

Maybe if I just say it really really fast. “Themanputshispenisinthewomansvagina. OK! That’s it. Let me know if you have any questions!”

Her eyebrows shot up to her hairline and she gave half a giggle. “OK.” she said. It was over! I had done it! It was over and she never asked the question I most dreaded.

And then I saw the lightbulb go off over her head. “Wait a minute. You mean you and Dad did that three times?”

I couldn’t help but laugh. “Yes, I think your Dad would say that’s about right.”

Now it’s really going to hit the fan. She’s never going to look at us the same way again. Except, she was totally cool with it. “OK, can I go watch Spongebob now?”

That was it. It was totally not horrible. We finished up with a few reminders that this information is not something we talk to other people about (right), and assurances that we are here any time she has questions about anything. I even suggested she write them down and give me a note if she’s embarrassed to talk about it. Little by little, she has come to me with questions and we’ve had some interesting conversations (recreational sex and birth control, whee!).

I hope that by being open and honest with her, she’ll do the same with me. But I have a feeling “the talk” was the easy part.