Okay. I’ll be honest. I have no freaking clue what I’m doing when it comes to parenting. My goal is to try to keep my kids alive and pray my poor skills won’t scar them for life.
“Unbelievable! Do you know what Elodie told my daughter?” The other mom looked at me with such intensity in her eyes I actually took a step backward. I smiled and shook my head, but I had a feeling I knew exactly what was coming.
“That to make babies, the man puts his zizi inside the woman’s zizi!” (For those of you unfamiliar with French slang, zizi is basically a nice term for one’s private parts.)
The mom continued, “When I was a child, I was told babies came from a cabbage patch. But now, because I didn’t want to shame Elodie, I had to tell my daughter — who’s only seven! — that yes, Elodie was correct. Where on Earth did she learn that?”
I thought that’s the way to traumatise kids about eating cabbage and shook my head. Out loud, I said, “She has an older sister.” The words burned my tongue.
Emma never told Elodie anything like that. Hell, I’m not even sure Emma knows where babies come from. Last year I bought her a book about how our bodies change and why. She promptly hid it somewhere in her room and refused to bring it out when I wanted to read it with her. To this day, I have no idea where that book is. And anytime I bring it up, Emma sneaks off before I can even blink.
So, no. It wasn’t Emma. It was me.
We’d been reading a bedtime story — some banal fairy tale with a reworked happy ending — when Elodie turned to me and asked, “How are babies made? I mean, exactly?”
For a split second I considered wrapping the basic truth up in a fancy bow. Talking about love and closeness and miracles. But then it just came out. In a straightforward, very technical, very exact way: “The man puts his zizi inside the woman’s zizi.”
She stared at me for a second, waiting for me to laugh at the joke. When I didn’t, she jumped out of bed and paced the room, shaking herself like she was trying to rid herself of the thought. “Yuk! Yuk, yuk, yuk!” Then she stopped. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped in horror. “That means…you and…you and Papa…did that!?!”
I’m a bad mommy. Bad, bad mommy. The poor girl is going to be haunted by that image the rest of her life. It doesn’t matter that I pulled out the fancy bow then. That I waxed on about intimacy and delicacy and love and sharing. It was too late. The wrapping couldn’t hide the box of instructions underneath.
For some insane reason, I thought she’d forget about it. Or at least that she’d never bring it up to others.
Shows you how deluded I can be.
But as the school bell rang and I waved good-bye to the other mom, my initial shame changed to something else. A strange satisfaction. I told my daughter the truth and the world didn’t come to an end. I know that when she’s invited to eat sauerkraut, at least she won’t be terrified she’s eating shredded baby parts.
And I know she’ll be on her guard. Anytime a boy gets too close, her new rule is: “Keep your zizi away from me.”
Now that’s what I want to hear. I just hope she’s still saying it ten years from now.