The birds and the bees for the four year old set

standard June 5, 2009 5 responses

“If I go to school I won’t be able to be a mommy!” We we’re driving home and I was navigating heavy traffic. I heard what she said, but it didn’t instantly sound as odd as it sounded when I finally got settled in the right lane and really heard her words in my head.

“What? What do you mean?”
“If I go to school I’ll be too busy to be a mommy.”
“No, no. You can be a mommy and work. I’m a mommy and a writer. It’s possible.”
“Oh. How will I become a mommy and a writer?”
“Well, you’ll go to school for 12 years or so, go to college, maybe meet a nice boy, get married and have babies.” I squinted at her in the rear view mirror. I wasn’t sure if I’d said what she wanted to hear, but she nodded knowingly.
“I’m going to have four babies.” She held up four fingers. “There are going to be four in my tummy and four in the daddy’s tummy.”

I didn’t answer right away. First of all I didn’t hear very clearly, second of all I was once again navigating another gnarly lane change. Instead I made some encouraging noises, which might explain why she got annoyed when I corrected her assumption that, duh, the burden of pregnancy should be shared equally between the parents.

She waited a moment with a scowl on her face, pondering the unfairness of what I had just explained, and I was so wrapped up in my commute and the cuteness of her pout that I honestly didn’t anticipate what was coming next.

“Mommy? How does the baby get in the mommy’s tummy?”

My heart sank. I glanced back at her hopeful face and wondered how on earth I was going to answer her question. What does a 4 year-old need to know about sex? What would assuage her interest without revealing anything I wouldn’t be mortified to hear her repeat on the playground tomorrow? What wouldn’t warp her idea of sex and babies for years to come?

I waited as long as possible, took a deep breath, and jumped in.
“When a man and a woman love each other very much and they’ve thought carefully about wanting to have a baby, they have a special kind of cuddle. The man puts a seed inside the lady’s belly and a baby grows.”
I figured it wasn’t too graphic and covered the basics. I hesitated and stressed the fact that it only happened during very special cuddles, not every cuddle. Last thing I wanted was for her to start looking for a growing belly every time M and I hugged.

She didn’t reply and I risked a glance in the mirror again. Her face was contorted and when she caught my eye she giggled and looked away. She squirmed and laughed and squirmed some more. Her face was bright red and she had trouble meeting my eye. She looked exactly like a little kid who has heard a slightly naughty secret. A delighted little girl with a slightly naughty and embarrassing secret. I laughed and winked at her. She stopped looking embarrassed and just looked amused. We laughed the rest of the way home, giggling extra hard when our eyes met in the mirror.

Foreplay, revised for parents of young children

standard January 15, 2009 4 responses

When you’re first dating, hooking up, or whatever young kids are calling it these days, you’re very focused on foreplay. Well, at least you’re supposed to be if you’re serious about getting some action, or at least some repeated action.

Once you have kids the focus on foreplay changes. First of all, time becomes a serious constraint. If you have all of a precious 15 minutes before the baby wakes up (again) you become very goal oriented. Traditional foreplay becomes a waste of precious minutes. Once you have your clothes off you don’t really want to waste any time getting comfortable with each other, and really, isn’t that what foreplay is all about?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that foreplay should be abandoned, I’m saying that it needs to evolve to fit the situation. Instead of hurrying it up it needs to be stretched out, thinned out, made to fit the tiny moments between the moments that fill up the day. Instead of spending time getting cozy and warmed up under the sheets, you can spend all day getting there.

Every couple is unique and every partner is going to be turned on by different things. One girl might really appreciate a hot cup of tea or a cold glass of wine. One guy might like a quick back scratch or head rub. Maybe it’ll be just taking the time to ask a couple questions and really listening to the answer.

Think for a minute. If you are your significant other aren’t spending a ton of time getting connected in the bedroom, could it be because you aren’t spending enough time connecting outside of it? Do you assume that you’ll know the answer to the question “how was your day?” Do you even ask? Do you listen?

How about your evening routines. Is one partner heading to bed much earlier than the other on a regular basis? Is it because one person does all the chores before turning in? Is it because one person can’t put down the computer or turn off the TV?

I’m not saying that you have to change your habits. I doubt that’s possible, or even optimal, but I am saying that you should build foreplay into your day so that when the opportune moment rolls around you’ll both be primed for action.

– Touch, hug, kiss each other, in passing or as a detour. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more you crave it.
– Share the load. Don’t nitpick about whose chore is whose. If a basket of laundry is what’s keeping one partner from going to bed, share the load and connect over sorted socks.
– Spend time together. So what if she’s cooking, she can multitask! Who cares if he’s cleaning his bike, you can hand him his tools.
– Do little things to lighten each other’s loads. Be aware of when loads need to be lightened.
– Watch each other, notice each other’s moods, react appropriately.
– Call, email, text, IM, reach out during the day, say hi, say I miss you, ask questions. Communicate.
– Sing, laugh, tease, play. Remember why you enjoy each other’s company.

It is unrealistic to expect someone to go from no contact to full contact in 15 seconds after a long stressful day dealing with life, home, work, or kids, especially if a ticking clock is adding pressure to the situation. You need time to unwind enough to be able to reconnect. But if you’ve never stopped connecting in the first place, then there’s no longer any obstacle.

Original It’s my life… post.