That conversation

Dot writes: and so we have come to the question every parent must, shuddering, face at some point: how much to tell them, and how soon? I’m not talking, fortunately, about the true Big One. (“Mummy, what do you actually do at work all day?” “Well, it involves irregular verbs…are you sure you’re ready for this?”) But one of the problems with having little boys who see no reason at all why their mum should ever be on the wrong side of a closed door from them, including when that door is the bathroom door, is that they’ve both noticed that something odd goes on at certain times of the month.

Frank is direct. “What dat? My see!”

Hugh draws on his experience to try to make sense of things. “Have you had a nosebleed, Mummy?”

It’s very hard to get this sort of thing right, isn’t it? My approach is, as far as I can manage, to answer their questions (it’s all normal and natural, let’s not seed any neuroses, etc etc), but being a university lecturer I do have to try very hard not to flood them with unnecessary information. Four-year-olds probably don’t need to have words like “progesterone” or “luteal phase” in their vocabularies, and when you find yourself drawing diagrams you know you’ve gone too far. So this morning I told Hugh that each month my body prepares itself in case there’s another baby. I have only myself to blame if he now thinks that babies come from nosebleeds.

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9 thoughts on “That conversation

  1. Helen Conrad-O'Briain

    That seems like a perfectly reasonable explanation – and exactly the church.
    You might want to decouple it from nosebleeds though.

  2. Katimum

    I wasn’t told anything about it until I was about 10 years old. Then everything necessary had to be carried about discretely in a little linen pocket. I rather got the impression my father knew nothing about the subject at all.

    1. kenanddot

      You must have been nicer to your mum about letting her have some privacy in the bathroom than my pair are to me. But it also speaks of a more decorous age.

      I don’t think you actually need to know much before the age of ten, but at the same time I don’t want my boys to feel that there are dark and possibly upsetting things going on.

  3. cartside

    Funny, I’ve been asking myself the same question. I now send my 4 year old out of the bathroom but that makes her all the more curious. I also try to be truthful but don’t want to worry her as she’s a bit worried about bleeding (blood=serious injury to her). I can’t remember how it was handled when I was a girl, lost in the senility of an older mum (me). I do remember being very worried when I first had a nosebleed though… so whatever was said I’d probably not taken it in. I’m sure that’s only the start of difficult situations…

  4. Ha! You did make me laugh.But in a sympathetic way… 🙂
    Your approach sounds very sensible and sorted to me. It’s certainly an approach I’d commend. Nosebleed babies notwithstanding.
    My household has no understanding of the concept ‘private’. There’s been no lock on the bathroom doors since one of the older ones had a big teenage party and some teenage things went on…
    My youngest is now 10. She didn’t ask me much – she has been educated by her older siblings… This sounds like a recipe for some serious ignorance – but our approach was to give as much info as they wanted (they’ll tell you when to stop simply by walking away of changing the subject) in a very matter-of-fact way. So I think the older ones have ‘trained’ her well…

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