One of DorkyDad’s poems is called One of the Questions Coming – and it’s a lovely, funny piece where he imagines how he’ll respond on that inevitable day sometime in the future when DorkySon asks him if he ever did drugs.
We have not reached that stage of questioning quite yet, but DorkySon has hit me with a few curious toddler curveballs recently, and my parenting skills are being tested to the max. Never mind all that stuff about how to put on a nappy or burp your baby – where’s the chapter in the textbook that tells you how to answer when your son asks ‘Why don’t you have a penis, Mummy?’
He doesn’t quite have the vocabulary to convey it directly, but my guess is that the two big things on DorkySon’s mind right now are the two big, essential, universal topics – sex and death.
I had a fun ten minutes the other day fielding some difficult questions. ‘Who gave me to you, Mummy? Why are you my Mummy? Why is Daddy my Daddy?‘
The next morning, DorkySon hopped into bed with us at about 6.30am and immediately said ‘Why don’t I have a brother and a sister? I’d really like a brother and a sister, Mummy.’ Bloody hell. I’d barely opened my bleary eyes and he’d already started!
Later that day the line of questioning changed a bit. ‘Why is Granny your Mummy, Mummy? Why doesn’t Granny live with Grandpa? Does everybody have a Mummy and Daddy? Why doesn’t Daddy have a Mummy and Daddy? Where are they? Will you still be my Mummy when I’m a big boy?‘
On and on it went.
They are learning about life cycles at nursery just now, and as I mentioned in a previous post, we’ve got quite a few pregnant friends, so I imagine that has prompted some of the thinking. But I’m finding it really hard. Direct questions about sex I can probably cope with when they happen (which I don’t think will be for a while yet) because I will work on the basis of explaining things as simply as possible and not overburdening him with more info than he needs to begin with.
But questions about death are harder. It’s such a vague concept, which is so difficult to explain if you haven’t experienced it, but then equally difficult in a different way if you do experience it. I hope so much that it’s a long, long time before DorkySon loses anyone close to him. But then how do I explain it to him in theoretical terms? I am starting to understand why families have hamsters and gerbils and other small furry things with fairly short life expectancies…
Anyway, we will muddle through. He is down for a nap at the moment, which has at least given me a bit of time to think about his pre-sleep parting shots, which he shouted at me as I closed the door.
“Is it okay that we eat fish even though fish have faces?”
“I’ll tell you after you’ve had a wee sleep” I shouted back.
There was a couple of seconds of silence, and then…
“Why do we need to sleep Mummy?”