Birds and Bees and Cats

Last night my husband stopped by the library on his way back from the bike shop to pick up a few books for me. He got everything I requested, but he also returned home with this:

Looks like a pretty innocuous book, right? Great photographs and informative text to help my kids learn about cats. Who could have a problem with a book about kitties?

This really is a very informative book, and the photos are quite good. But the section entitled “The Mating Game” is a bit too informative for my comfort.

Let me interject here that I don’t really have any trouble with my kids knowing about, you know, S-E-X. It’s just not really a conversation I’m looking forward to. And there aren’t many topics I shy away from discussing with my kids.

I’m trying to give the information about you-know-what incrementally rather than all at once. Like when I was pregnant with my son and my then-four-year-old daughter wanted to know how the baby got in there. I answered little bits at a time, trying always to focus on her exact question rather than on where that question might lead. This technique served me well as it turned out she wasn’t asking about what I worried she was asking about and my evasive responses seemed to satisfy her curiosity. Had I jumped to conclusions, we may have had some confusion and weirdness on our hands.

By this time, she already knew how the baby came out because we’d been watching homebirth videos together to prepare her for her sibling’s arrival. She spent months pretending to give birth all over the house. Her groans could be heard any time of the day, followed inevitably by the announcement that she had just given birth to a footling breech.

This morning I got to hear my six-year-old daughter read aloud a fairly detailed account of the mating habits of the house cat while I did breakfast dishes. After the birth play, you’d think this wouldn’t bother me. But you’d be wrong.

And my husband is fixing to leave for Michigan to watch the U of M/Notre Dame game with his brothers this weekend, leaving me with the task of answering the myriad questions my daughter is sure to ask about said mating habits once the text has percolated in her brain.

As long as I can keep the conversation focused on cats, I think I’ll be okay.

I will, however, think twice before asking my husband to go to the library for me in the future.

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