Thanks to a play date ten years ago at which Barbie and Ken got nekkid and busy, I was put into a situation where I had no choice but to tell then five year old Zoe about the facts of life.
And while I wish I was talking about the seventies sitcom and that Zoe and I curled up on the couch and ate popcorn and gabbed on and on about the Eastland School for Girls with Mrs. Garrett and Jo and Blair and Natalie and Tootie and how Mommy just knew there was something special about George Burnett (well helloooooooooooo, Mr. Clooney! I love you! Call me!) … I’m not. I’m talking about sitting at the kitchen table and talking about all things birds and bees. Add in the kit and kaboodle and it was the whole shebang.
Who’s in charge of inventing words? I’d like to put in a request for shuwumple.
Shuwumple. My shuwumple broke and I need a new one.
It’s open to interpretation.
Anyway, ten years ago, five year old Zoe had her five year old playmate Maddie over. I didn’t like Maddie. I found her to have reached an inordinate level of oddness and weirdness in her short life, constantly bragging about her doctor mother and her stay-at-home father and her devil spawn younger brother who insisted on head butting me in my knees every time he saw me.
They were a strange family who lived up the street from us. But we were new in the area and Zoe was happy to have made a friend so I bit my tongue until it bled.
The girls were busy giggling and laughing and running around up in Zoe’s room for several minutes until they weren’t. And as any mom will tell you, NOTHING good comes out of complete and utter silence behind a closed door with two six year olds on the other side.
So I knocked on the door and immediately entered Zoe’s bedroom without giving them a chance to scatter and hide the evidence. And sure enough, there was Maddie, busy contorting a naked Ken and Barbie into the missionary position. And there was Zoe, with her face all crinkled up like it was that one time she watched me change my friend’s baby’s diaper, five seconds before she screamed EWWWWWWWWWW and ran out of the room.
I took this as a positive sign.
They both looked up at me and Maddie turned scarlet red and looked away. Zoe looked right at me and shouted IS LUNCH READY NOW?
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. Sure, but make Ken promise Barbie it will be better next time? No, get in the car – I need to drive it around the world at the speed of light so I can turn back time and save us both a boatload of therapy twenty years from now?
I decided not to make a big deal about it. I simply told them that Intro to Fornication 101 was over and to come down to the kitchen for some mac’n cheese. Afterwards, I sent them outside to play but not before taking the eyes out from in back of my head and cementing one onto each of their foreheads.
Later, after Maddie had gone, I sat down Zoe in the kitchen and asked her what Barbie and Ken were doing. And I held my breath and hoped she would tell me they were playing naked Twister and then we’d laugh and I’d tell her that it was against the law to play naked games before you were forty and then we’d have a cookie and I’d tell her to go clean her room and she’d cry YOU’RE SUCH A MEANIE and all would be right with the world.
And then she told me they were having sex.
And I silently cursed my empty pantry and fridge which forced a trip to Wegmans which resulted in bumping into Maddie and her mom which precipitated the play date.
Stupid human digestive systems and their incessant need to eat. For God’s sake, who’s bright idea was it to invent them anyway?
So I asked Zoe if she knew what sex was? And I held my breath and hoped she’d tell me something simple, like sex is what daddy hopes for when he cleans the bathroom. Then we’d laugh and I’d give her a kiss and a cookie and tell her to go clean her room and she’d cry YOU’RE SUCH A MEANIE and all would be right with the world.
And then she told me that Maddie said boys have sperm and girls have eggs and boys put their wee wees into girl’s vaginas and the eggs grow into babies.
And I silently cursed Maddie’s doctor mother and her incessant need to procreate and then discuss it with her offspring. And what’s up with using “wee wee” if you’re going to use vagina? Men get a euphemism and woman get stuck with reality?
What else is new?
And then I told Zoe that I really enjoyed our talk and if we stopped talking right that instant, we could jump on a flight to Disney World and see the Little Mermaid and wouldn’t that just be so much more fun than talking about boring old wee wees and vaginas?
And then she asked me why girls don’t just lay their eggs like chickens?
So instead of playing dress up and building forts out of blankets and making Ooblek with my five year old daughter like all the rest of humanity who were lucky enough not to live down the road from trolls, I wound up having a sex talk with her instead.
I tried to keep it as age appropriate as possible, avoiding the nitty gritty details and emphasizing the concept that sex was an expression of love between a mommy and a daddy and essentially a means to an end, like if you wanted a baby or if you wanted the living room re-painted by the weekend.
When we were done, Zoe was thoroughly grossed out by all the mushy gushy talk about love and asked if we could be done so that she could play with her Betty Spaghetti upstairs.
And I said yes and silently vowed that the next place Maddie and Zoe would play would be that patch of grass over my dead body and then I held my breath and hoped that the entire conversation had either gone over her head or rerouted through one ear and out the other much like the 62 conversations we had the day before about cleaning her room.
And then she raced up the stairs yelling NATE! NATE! CAN YOU HAVE SEX WITH MOMMY RIGHT NOW AND TURN HER EGG INTO A BABY SISTER?