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Watch out, those birds and bees can sting!

As you’ve heard me say numerous times, my 9-year-old son, Levi, is one of the most giving, thoughtful, compassionate individuals I’ve ever known. He wants to help, to rescue, to take care of people. He is also fully versed in the academics of sexual reproduction. Now who’d have thunk those two characteristics could create such an incendiary combination.

Here’s the thing about sex; my husband Mark and I are very open about the reproductive process with our kids. We’ve always taken the approach that they will ask for as much information as they’re ready to handle. When they were younger, the simple explanation that mommies and daddies decide to have babies and then the baby grows inside the mommy’s tummy, easily sufficed. As time went on, however, more in depth answers were required. (Ironically, as things got more detailed and specific, the questions always seemed to come when my husband was working, at a meeting or out of town for a few days.) But I carried the torch and explained the mechanics of sexual reproduction using the correct anatomical names of all body parts. I never stammered or stuttered so as to suggest any amount of nervousness or discomfort. I simply told my son how babies were made in as much detail as his curious mind was ready to digest.

Flash forward to a few nights ago. Mark and I got home from our weekly date night and found our regular babysitter a bit undone. Reluctant to share the reason for her discomfort, we assumed that the boys had behaved poorly or that she’d gotten a bad grade on a final or something along those lines. But as she started to leave, she turned back and said, “I think I need to tell you something.”

We were concerned. We sat down expecting the worst. A few words of background here; this young woman has worked with us for nearly two years. We love her as if she’s a part of our family. The boys treat her with love, admiration and respect. She is a smart, thoughtful, religious young woman who wants to be a mother in the worst way. But she’s careful and responsible and is waiting to find someone to share her life with. So in the meantime, she mothers my kids and everyone wins.

She doesn’t hide her maternal longings, and her desire to have a baby had come up in conversation that evening while we were out. Eager to please, and now fully cognizant of the process, Levi leapt at the opportunity saying, “I can make a baby with you!” When she politely declined, he pressed on and said that it was really no big deal. His mom had told him how to do it, and he’d be more than happy to give her the baby she longed for.

It’s moments like these that make me really thankful for people who possess a sense of humor. Our sitter smiled as she watched our horrified expressions. Then she giggled a little. My husband and I both sighed in relief and started giggling too. We all knew that Levi’s offer had been completely innocent. But we’d both still shared a moment of panicked hysteria imagining our 9 year old offering his “services” for hire.

There are innumerous blessings in having smart, curious kids who want desperately to make others happy. But every once in a while, those kids get a little too knowledgeable and a little too helpful. As Confucius once said, “he who possesses the answers is sometimes better off holding them back.” Okay, I said that. But I think that’s the next lesson we’ll work on at home.


About gettrich

Debra Rich Gettleman is a professional actor, playwright and journalist living in Seattle, WA with her husband Mark and two amazing boys, Levi and Eli.

42 responses to “Watch out, those birds and bees can sting!

  1. Thanks for sharing this. Your humor and fluent writing style had my attention through the whole piece.

  2. thanks , that brilliant and thanks for my friday laugh. i have a whole bunch of girlfriends on facebook bemoaning the things their kids ask them about and how to answer them. i am going to go and post your link to them immediately.

  3. Hilarious. I think most of us could fill a blog with the crazy things our kids say or come up with. We have a whole sidebar on our family blog with one-liners that keep us in stitches(

    We’re more reserved about what we share and when, but completely agree with the need to not stammer or look/be ashamed when we do tell the kids. It’s a beautiful thing that they should greatly look forward to-in the context of marriage only. Whenever I think about this topic I’m reminded of something my wife once read me from the classic book The Hiding Place (the story of Corrie Ten Boom)

    She once asked her father-at the train station of all places-what sex was all about. I think he handled it brilliantly.
    He asked her to go pick up his suitcase for him and bring it to him. She could not, as it was much too heavy.
    He replied with the following,
    “Just like you, at this stage in life, are not able to carry my suitcase, you are not yet able to carry what I would tell you about sex. But-be encouraged-one day you will be ready and I will share it with you then.”

    thanks for sharing this post! Thanks to WP, I guess, for promoting it to FP!

    have a great weekend!

  4. Hilarious. My friend had a bit of explaining to do at one point vis a vis her six-year-old’s rather too detailed knowlege of the reproductive process. But the boy lives on a farm, you can hardly hide it.

  5. That’s hilarious. It’s amazing sometimes how children can say some things to be helpful that, unltimately, make us uncomfortable.

  6. Like you, I always tried to give my children honest and open answers. When my daughter was 3 and son 7 we had neighbours with an only child of 10.
    She was having afternoon tea at our house one day (at that age our children ate early and the ‘grown ups’ ate much later.) I was in the kitchen when I hear the neighbour child enlighting my children on the topic of ‘where babies come from’. She was not getting anything wrong and I thought that it would be a mistake to interupt.
    I thought that if I did interupt, it would make it all seem naughty, and most of it would go over the head of 3-year-old daughter.
    After the explanation, there was a long and silent pause. Then my daughter said, ‘Well I wasn’t made like that at all.’
    Big brother asked in that superior way only big brothers can employ, ‘Where do you think you came from then.’
    Another long and silent pause – and the poor daughter uttered the explanation that she will never be allowed to forget: ‘I came out of the sea at Eastbourne.’

  7. Raul Alanis ⋅

    That’s hilarious!! Great article! I was wondering what it was he was going to say and I totally didn’t expect that. At least you know he is extremely perceptive and very giving. 🙂

  8. thismuchblog ⋅

    This was cute to read and made me smile. You are a good writer. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  9. Oh my, he is generous and smart. Kids!

  10. kendylau

    Thanks for the post and what you are sharing here. In my case it was very different; coming from an Asian culture, the only answer I got from them about sex education is “Bird and bee. birds and bees”- all over and over, again and again. I started learning about sex through friends and Internet mostly:)

  11. bajanpoet


    This is an awesome post! Had me grinning from ear to ear…

    I wonder what I would do if MY children were to say something like THAT…. LOLOL

  12. That is fantastic and hilarious. I’m glad you have a level-headed babysitter who didn’t see this in the wrong way. There are idiots out there who might have called social services on you for educating your kid…

  13. Haha. That’s quite amusing. Yes at 9 years old that is completely innocent, but it’s still a funny story to share nonetheless. Thanks. : )

  14. Thanks for sharing, great blog!

  15. Jim Hagen ⋅

    Don’t make a big deal out it. A precocious outburst is not a reason to call in the thought police or to assume the kid is going off the rails. Too many parents micromanage incidents like this and it makes everyone’s life miserable.

  16. gloriadelia ⋅

    No one tells you how hard it is to be a good parent! I wish it was all just instinct, like cats knowing how to paddle when they’re thrown in the water.
    In fact, I’ve had that panicked- wet- cat feeling at times when I was raising my kids! It’s not a job for the unadvised or those who lack sense of humor. 🙂
    Way to go, being featured on the Freshly Pressed page! Gloris

  17. This is a great story, rich in its truthiness.

  18. Hahaha–cute story!

    I love the suggestion that kids will only ask for information they’re ready to handle.

    My son is still learning to say “Bird,” never mind the birds and the bees…but I will keep this advice in mind in a few years!

  19. Laura

    Well, I must say that the whole incident is quite hilarious. I am glad that your sitter was able to take it humorously. I dont think it would go down quite as well in school though!

  20. david ⋅

    mellow read and cute story, love your style debra!

  21. T. K. KASHYAP ⋅

    Got me thinking for a while..LOL

  22. Heather

    Hahahaha! What a wonderful post. VERY well done–thanks for the heartwarming laughs. 🙂

  23. OMG. I loved this post.

    I would love to meet your 9-year old Captain Curious 🙂

  24. grafixnews ⋅

    cute story!

    I love the suggestion that kids will only ask for information they’re ready to handle.

  25. brilliant……your son’s sentiment was sweet 🙂

  26. Eris ⋅

    *snort* It’s not every day your young son propositions the babysitter.

    Very funny.

  27. JMav

    I’m glad to see someone raising their children well in this country, excellent article and bravo on being open with your children.

  28. neuo8324

    Sex covers every living creature including the creature I am, but for some reason we are all different. At what stage can one inform their children what it’s all about. Animals don’t ask mother so they behave the way they think is normal. Can we be like them?
    Sex creates life. I’m all for living.

  29. pajamadays ⋅

    Awesome! I love our childrens’ honesty and matter-of-fact approach. Once I overheard my daughter tell her male friend, “oh yeah – I see it now…your stuff just hangs out all over the place while my stuff is tucked up inside.” We started supervising play-dates a little more closely!

  30. Songbird ⋅

    lol!!! But I do agree with you- children have a lot of guestions and they are not stupid, I completely agree- tell them the truth about things….

  31. Very cute—but also proof that the sex-ed you provided left out a few very crucial details…

  32. Raoul

    That was funny. My parents were always open about these things with me as I grew up, but I never quite worked up the courage to “offer my services” as your son did. 🙂

  33. neuo8324

    Every child is different in character. Some are curious, others are shy etc. etc. the child is influenced by the mother especially when young. Mother knows the child?? if so, mother knows whether it is good to give the child any type of information it asks for. In the good old days?? when grown ups arrived for tea we had to leave so that we didn’t hear what they were talking about. Why??

  34. Hilarious… similar story for me, when I was two my mother explained a little of the difference between girls and boys since I had just gotten a new baby brother. When the 14 year old neighbor boy came over to babysit that night I asked if he had “brought his penis with him” !!! oh dear, these poor kids, they are just trying to understand in the most innocent way.
    Despite his untimely offer, what a kind 9-year old you have, just wants to help 🙂

  35. colin L beadon ⋅

    If we insist in opening Pandora’s Box to our way- under-aged children, thereby taking away the stories of childhood and the stork, aren’t we really, forcing them, instead of allowing them to grow up and find the wonder for themselves ?
    But this is what we do these days, in the name of modern teaching. We destroy childhood, utterly, and Peter Pan.

  36. colin L beadon ⋅

    I hate this blasted, ‘Awaiting Moderation.’
    Most times the site gets changed, because we live four of five hours late, in this part of the world. So I waste my time to write .

    • gettrich ⋅

      Sorry it takes so long to get approved. I agree. Love your comments though. Hope you’ll keep checking in.

  37. This blog is very good. Thanks for this. I will bookmark this page.

  38. ondiluss

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


  39. alona

    nice post! i have a nine-year old son, too. glad i found your blog, i’ll keep this handy. i know i’m gonna make use of it soon. More power.

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