One of the downsides of having a big age gap between your children is that your firstborn child is, shall we say, rather inquisitive about the biological process that resulted in his sibling. Today was a case in point. I was just about to take the recycling out when The Boy, a propos of nothing, piped up. ‘Mummy,’ he asked, ‘how did you know that there was a baby growing in your tummy?’
I spent, oooh, all of about half a second wondering whether to give him a factual explanation, then thought better of it. Instead, I went for the easy option. ‘Well, my tummy started getting big,’ I told him.
Phew, I thought. That wasn’t too painful.
The Boy is, we’re sure, destined for a career in law. At the age of five, his cross-examination skills are second to none, so I should have known better than to think he’d accept such a facile answer. ‘But didn’t you just think you’d been eating too much?’ he countered. And before I knew it, I’d launched into an explanation of how, when you’re pregnant, the baby makes chemicals in your body that come out in your wee, and when you wee on a stick, some more chemicals change colour to tell you that there’s a baby on the way. I’d even promised to show him the aforementioned stick, still hanging around in the bathroom cabinet.
Such is life in our household. All kids like to ask questions, but The Boy *really* likes to ask questions. Worse still, he knows all too well when you’re fobbing him off.
Back when he was a baby, I remember hubby being adamant that he would always endeavour to give The Boy proper answers to his questions. His father is a scientist, and he himself grew up with his nose in an encyclopaedia, so he’s always put a high price on general knowledge. But even he wasn’t prepared for The Boy’s relentless interrogation skills. Where does water come from? Why is it dark in space? How does gravity work? Does God have a very deep voice? Why are some people born with only one arm? (Thanks, Ceri from CBeebies). Can they be born with only one eye? What about with no tummy?
To give him his due, hubby does his best to answer all these questions and more. Me? Well, I tend to resort to the stock answer of, ‘I don’t know; ask Daddy.’ Yes, it’s a cop-out, but hey, I’m not the one who promised to always give sensible answers.
The whole baby-making thing seems to be at the front of The Boy’s mind at the moment. Today, aside from his pregnancy test questioning, he has asked me why I had to go into hospital after The Baby was born (I had her at home, but had a third-degree tear that needed stitching), and why it hurts when a baby comes out (I likened it to trying to do a great big poo). The more questions he asks, the harder I find it to know how much information is appropriate. He’s a bright little boy, and can tell when we’re fudging it, but equally, he’s *five*. He doesn’t need to know the ins and outs (sorry!) of reproduction yet. And he certainly doesn’t need to be the one who then takes it upon himself to enlighten his classmates.
So, while we’re doing our best to answer all those tricky questions about gravity, theology and outer space, for now, I’m drawing the line at explaining just how his little sister came to be. ‘We asked God for a baby, and He decided we could have one,’ I’ve told him. It’s true, more or less.
And if all else fails, we’ll resort to the default answer of parents the world over: ‘Because we said so, okay?’