April 6, 2010


I do not realistically believe we should keep our kids from information unless it's going to be somehow detrimental or just too much. There are some things some kids can't understand but I don't think we give most kids enough credit and trust them with the information they can handle. I also think we tend to we introduce our own bias when talking about a subject and will naturally shy away from topics we're not comfortable with or that make us, as adults, feel embarrassed. This is, perhaps, why Mia, Beth and I had elaborate conversations about the meaning and examples of rhetorical questions this weekend. We've talked with Mia about politics, homosexuality and gay marriage, vegetarianism and free speech not because we wanted her to think like we do or pop some childhood bubble but because she asked.

I do understand that there's a point at which an almost-five year old just can't comprehend. I'm not going to talk about serial killers or the death penalty or even why Michael Jordan's return to basketball in DC was a tragic misstep in an otherwise brilliant career. She won't get those things. I default to my Poltergeist Rule. When I was 10 my mom took me to see Poltergeist. I was way too young, something that we both realized a half hour into the movie but neither of us were willing to admit. I've never really recovered. I love scary movies now but will never again watch that film. And I'm a little leery of anything starring Craig T. Nelson. Even Coach.

We have a small pond in our backyard. Right around this time of year it starts to become it's own fascinating little ecosystem. The fish that hibernated under a layer of ice all winter swim to the top and are joined by newly hatched fish. The lillypads bloom. Other eggs turn into tadpoles which turn into frogs. It's fascinating to me so I can only imagine how cool it is for the kids. Now, we have a lot of fucking frogs. I don't mean that in a damn, we sure have a hell of a lot of frogs in the pond sense. I mean we have a lot of frogs and they all appear to be fucking. And those fuckers (literal and metaphorical meanings intended) are loud when they're trying to get laid. On Saturday, Mia joined me as I watched the live amphibian sex show.

Mia: Look at all of the frogs swimming around and jumping!
Me: Pretty cool now that the frogs are back, isn't it?
Mia: Yes! And their throats get all puffy and they make that loud noise. Why do they do that?
Me: They're just talking to each other.
[The truth? It's the frog equivalent of saying what's a nice frog like you doing in a pond like this?]
Mia: Oooh, and look! They're playing tag and jumping on each other's backs.
[They were doing more than just playing tag. They were fucking. Furiously, orgy-like.]
Me: Yeah. Funny.
Mia: What are they doing that for?
Me: They're just playing.
[I lied. I worried about having The Conversation and played it safe. Then I called bullshit on myself.]
Me: Sweetheart, they're not just playing tag. They're actually making frog babies.
Mia: Really? How?
Me: The girl frog has eggs which she lets out of her body. The boy frog on top of her has a special job because he's responsible for fertilizing them. And the eggs have to be fertilized for them to turn into tadpoles one day.
Mia: Oh. That's cool. Wanna go play Little Mermaid? You can be Ursula?
Me: Sure, Bean.

Here, for your consideration, is frog porn. You can't really see 'em, but they sure are loud.

I'm sure Mia and I will have more awkward conversations but I'm proud to have a kid who is so curious about the world that it forces me to learn more about it, and share more about it, myself.

What truths did you learn too early? Too late?

Posted by Chris at April 6, 2010 6:57 AM

It starts out with "Oh, that's cool.." and it's all downhill from here :P Seriously, though - it's that kind of open conversation that leads to kids with a healthy and informed attitude towards sex (and you can still try to convince her not to do it til she's 35, or, yknow, ever) so kudos to you :)

Posted by: Heather at April 6, 2010 7:09 AM

When I was in third grade my grandmother died. My parents went to the funeral home on the day of the service and they told my brother and sister and I to sit down in the lobby and they would be right back.
I got up and wandered and saw Grandma, in a box at the end of this room. I ran to say hello and then.....
Yeah, it was a bad scene. I cannot see anyone in a casket now without losing it totally. You see, no one told me what to expect, or that Grandma was dead. They said she'd gone to sleep.
That was/is a tough one.

Posted by: Maribeth at April 6, 2010 7:46 AM

Reminds me of the time when I very worriedly said to my mother that the rooster was being mean to the chickens. "Look! He keeps jumping on them and pecking at them! That's not nice!"

Yeah. Turns out, they weren't really fighting. Go figure.

Posted by: Patricia at April 6, 2010 8:50 AM

Never too early! Baby frogs have to come out from somewhere! I got my first book on where babies come from in kindergarten too. It's my mom's way of avoiding having THE conversation. Here, this is biology. Learn it. LOL.

Posted by: oakley at April 6, 2010 9:23 AM

OMG - I watched Poltergeist at a slumber party when I was 10 or 11 and it SCARRED me. I seriously couldn't sleep with a closet door open until after I turned 30. True story.

Posted by: rougeneck at April 6, 2010 10:20 AM

I say, talk about sex often and early on. It's healthy. It's a human expression and if you take the taboo off of it, the stigma of "wrong" goes away. Yeah, you!

Posted by: k8 at April 6, 2010 10:24 AM

Poltergeist got me too; the whole sink / shaving scene, courtesy of HBO. Really freaky.

I think you played the frog thing right. I had a similar conversation with my daughter about how DNA works, and took the opportunity to plant the seed that she could grow up, become a scientist, and use genetic engineering to create her own real life Yoshi. She keeps asking if anyone is working on such a thing, and I can with relative certainty tell her that there is a lab somewhere in Tokyo hard at work on that very thing. But she should still study hard anyway.

Not sure on how to keep them alive ( although I'm sure the Internets could help ), but you might want to grab some tadpoles, put them in a fishbowl, and let the kids watch them grow.

Posted by: metawizard at April 6, 2010 11:45 AM

Well, I don't remember ever being traumatized by information, but this weekend my Mom forwarded an email she had received from my daughter. It was a poem, sort of, about a girl who goes to a party and she has a Sprite, because she's been told that drinking is dangerous. Her friends drink and subsequently leave in their car. The girl leaves the party and on the way home is involved in an accident with the drunk friends. It's written in first person by the Sprite girl, who is afraid and dying. My Mom was concerned that my 10-year-old should be getting these forwarded messages from her friends, but I thought it was OK. I mean, it's never to early to start telling your kids how dangerous these legal drugs can be. In a few years, when she is old enough to have friends that drive, I will tell her that if her friends are drunk, she should do her best to get them into her car, or let her drive theirs, and bring them to our home or shuttle them to their homes. I hope she will be strong enough to do that, and the earlier that message is given to her, the better it will sink in. I hope.

Mia seems pretty mature. I'm sure your frog porn won't damage her. ;-)

Posted by: Brooke at April 6, 2010 12:20 PM

Oy. Poltergeist scared the ever living crap out of me.

I remember having a very similar conversation with my father about frogs, excpet they were tree frogs and yes they are just as loud, maybe even louder when having sex.

Kudos to you for telling Mia the truth about what was happening, it's nature. And I agree I think that kids pick up and understand a lot more than we adults give them credit.

Posted by: Jenn at April 6, 2010 12:34 PM

I have to say that I am going thru a similar time with my 15 year old son. I have been trying to get him to share things with me or talk to me about sex and boy things. We have always been very close. His dad has already had the sex talk with him, but I feel left out. For crying out loud I know just as much "boy stuff". So why am I getting shunned?

I think its great you have such a great -open relationship with your daughter. Enjoy it while it lasts. Once they hit TEEN age they completely ignore you.

Posted by: soccermom at April 6, 2010 1:21 PM

I have no idea! I just hope I'm doing it right. I answer questions truthfully when they come up.

I saw Poltergeist when I was 6, We had a babsitter.. we invited the neighbors over. there was a 13 year old, a 12 year old, a 9 year old and 2 6 year olds in the room. I still get absolutely freaked out when we watch that movie.

I couldn't sleep with my closet door open. (still can't) and I'm terribly afraid of clowns!

Posted by: molly at April 6, 2010 2:00 PM

Well the big questions seem to be directed at the male parental units... they are at our house too.

It just seems to me I was sheltered from everything... so I learned it all far too late.

Posted by: Nat at April 6, 2010 2:26 PM

someone gave lola a book called "my mom is having a baby" when we were pregnant with her little brother. we always glazed over the page about exactly how babies are made by saying something like "and the mommy and daddy snuggle because they love each other" and it satisfied her.
and then my parents came over one weekend and i wasn't paying attention to what they were doing until i realized that my mom was halfway through reading lola that book. i said "she's never really heard it word for word" and my dad said "well, i guess she has now!" omg.

have you ever watched the mockumentary Cane Toads? you really should. one of my faves.

Posted by: kati at April 6, 2010 2:26 PM

I learned too early what it looks like to stab a person in the stomach (children of the corn).

I learned too late how babies are made. I mean, not "uh oh!" too late, but really... by the time I was super horny I still didn't know how it all worked.

Posted by: Brad at April 6, 2010 2:52 PM

I think context is everything--fertilizing eggs, she knows what an egg is (chickens, for starters). This is a way to go slowly, and YAY! for slow. Getting emotions in with data... Sex is a big thing in the world, and although it's natural, it's something that our culture puts a lot of taboos on, etc. So letting Mia process bit by bit, not a bad plan.

Freaking Nightmare on Elm Street. I STILL hate it 20 years later. Stupid freaking Freddie Kruger.

Posted by: alektra at April 6, 2010 9:04 PM