In an effort to make sure that my kids have a direct line of communication with me and know that I will always do my best to be completely honest with them, I have often said that they can ask me anything. I will tell them as much as I know and I think they can handle (of course it goes without saying that I have had this conversation with the now 9 year old, not so much the two year old).
Now as you would assume with kids, lots of unexpected and uncomfortable questions are often asked. Of course you eventually expect the "where do babies come from?" to which I promptly headed off to the book store to purchase Where do I come from?, which we read and re-read together with added questions (and answers along the way). We also got the "Why is it called a penis and how come girls don't have one?", to which I answered and my husband was horrified that we should be talking about penis' and vaginas at the breakfast table. My theory is that you should tackle the topics when they come to hand (time and situation permitting) so that I can hold true to the "you can ask me anything" motto.
The thing with answering such questions honestly is that a small person can only take on so much information at a time. So even if you are brutally honest it might just go over their heads or perhaps even give them unnecessary issues about the topic. So I feel that it is always important to give age specific answers to questions and go back and revisit topics as my children get older and need more of in depth knowledge about stuff.
When we tackled the notion of where he came from (this question came up at around five), this included the proviso that the mum and dad needed to be married. Now that is not to say that babies are not born out of wedlock or that I even have a problem with that happening (which I don't - to each his own), I just didn't want to have to go to far into detail with a call from the principal later in the week because it was a bit hard to put an age limit on it all (who knows how literally kids are going to take your answers "well, I'm a boy and you're a girl so ...." ).
Anyway, he must have taken it all away and mulled it around because about six months later we were walking to school one day and he had more questions about it all - but this time relating to friends of ours, who are also a gay couple. It went something like this "So Charles and Doug are a couple right?" to which I replied the affirmative. "So they have sex then, right?". Again I answered to the affirmative. "So, which one of them will have the baby?". Ahh, a question I had not seen coming and was not prepared for. (Do they have a book at the library about that??) So then we talked about how having a baby required a man and a woman (now remember this is an age appropriate talk - so we didn't discuss how in this modern day and age it is possible to have two mothers or two fathers or just one parent or any other variant, we were just doing the basics). We continued to walk on for a bit in silence and he was obviously still working on this one because later that day we were on a car ride somewhere and he pipes up from the back. "Well, if they can't have a baby then why do they have sex?"
So, at this point I am thinking it's all good to be open to questions but you just never know what your going to get!! Having said that, at least he's getting his information from me instead of some other random primary school kid.
Have you had any "hairy" questions and how did you go with them?
Have you ever gotten into the middle of a really riveting discussion about Pokemon you could just not tear yourself away from? No, me neither. But, unfortunately that hasn't stopped me reluctantly being a part of such conversations.
The thing with kids is that you often have to show interest in things because they like them. As a parent I have developed ways in which to deal with such conversations which make it seem like I am interested without me actually having to listen to it. And the lesson is this, just say yes. I developed this technique over multiple story telling sessions involving the latest Pokemon and or Skylander characters (whatever, it doesn't really matter what it was) and I wanted to share it with you.
Now some of you might be horrified by my total lack of interest in my kid's latest interest. But, to you I say, perhaps you have more time or patience on your hands than I do, so good luck to you and you should tune out now.
It all started when I realised that discussions about Pokemon (or whatever) always involved an introductory story. Such as "Mum, you know the Pokemon character named ... " (I have no idea, I tuned out) to which I would reply (more often than not) "Ah, no". Then I would have to spend 20 minutes listening to a story which detailed that particular character and all its attributes before he then launched into another 20 minute story about what the character was up to (which was basically what he had wanted to tell me in the first place, before we got stuck on the back story). So from this I gleaned my new technique. Which goes more like this "Mum, you know the Pokemon character named ..." I would then reply "Yes" and then he would just tell me the one story and it made no difference to my in depth understanding of the character or it's motivation to do what it did. The result of this was that everyone was happy and nobody got hurt.
The only glitch with this technique was that my husband wasn't aware of it. So when we were all in an enclosed space such as the car and we got the inevitable "Dad you know the Pokemon character who...... " and his response was "No". I still had to endure the back story, the actual story and any other related stories once he got on his Pokemon bandwagon and had a captive audience. Obviously I have had to share the technique with his father and we have all gone back to the obligatory one story which is not too bad. The only downer in this story is that whilst I have to ask the 9 year old five (or more times) to set out his school clothes for the next day or feed the dog he must have heard me passing on this tip to his father.
So the next time we were alone and my son said "Mum, you know the Pokemon ..." (you know the rest) and I said "Yes." My 9 year old came back with a wry smile and a "You don't really know do you Mum?" to which I thought for a moment and responded "Well, no. I just want this to be over". He looked at me for a moment and then started to laugh and told me the abridged version of the final story. Although a little white lie is sometimes good for a relationship (no I don't hate your new hair do - it's very fashionable, I just saw it in a magazine), honesty seems to be working alright sometimes too. I guess you have to choose your audience.
So give it a whirl, just say yes.