That Feeling When Your Kid Asks You About Sex

photo by Jeremiah Kemper

My mouth was watering too much. My body somehow sensed that I might barf. My kid was asking me about sex.

There are times over the course of my career as a deputy prosecutor when I’ve felt so uncomfortable that I’ve had an actual physical response. Usually, it’s sweating from the heat of my own burning insides. My shirts get pitted out and little beads form on my forehead and moisture gathers on my upper lip and the back of my neck.

But none, and I do mean none of those experiences compared to the sweating I experienced this month when my nine year old daughter started asking me questions about sex.

Did you hear me? I said my nine year old daughter. What in the hell is wrong with chasing puppies and blowing dandelions and bouncing around in a pink-striped dress and singing Jesus Loves Me? Huh? Why must my child do this? What I’d really like is to get five minutes alone with the fourth-grader that squealed this vital information a full year ahead of the “end of the innocence” schedule I had planned. It would be a very non-criminal, non-physical, non-permanently-scarring kind of confrontation. It would be memorable.

The moment came at night, in the dark, like a clandestine operation gone terribly wrong. It all started out so nicely. Sweet Pea and I rarely have the privilege of being alone because we find ourselves rushing from home to school to errands and we always have her little brother on board, in hot pursuit, or eavesdropping. But this night was different. Her brother had been banished to his room for committing a heinous deed which shall remain classified except to say that it involved a small plastic Middle Eastern dagger and protests of “Molon Labe!” as I stripped the offending weapon from his seven year-old grip. Her father was gone (of course he was) so my daughter was all snuggled in to my bed. The fan was humming a lullaby as we hunkered down under the billowy down comforter, the cold air blasting in and the drone of the motor creating the perfect amount of coolness and white noise for a fall slumber. I was just drifting off to sleep when her sweet little voice broke the silence.

“Mom, isn’t it true that to make a baby a man puts his private parts into a woman’s private parts?”

I thought about fake-snoring. I thought if I kept quiet it might go away. I thought if I faked my own death … and that’s when the saliva started to build up under my tongue and I was forced to swallow.

“Mom? Is it really true?”

She seemed disturbed by this news more than inquisitive, which I completely understood. I remember the first time it was explained to me by a gaggle of 5th grade boys and referred to as “humping.” I had already given her the basics over the summer, anticipating that she was starting to have questions that could no longer be explained by the phrase “you came from my tummy” when we went sports-bra shopping. But they were very basic basics. And now … she wanted mechanics. And specifics.

Now, I consider myself a pretty highly educated, open-minded, worldly kind of “sex is a natural part of life” person, but I was unprepared to have this conversation at age nine. I covered the high points, trying to calmly remember the words used by my high school health teacher. I left out the part about fluid exchange, or really any bodily fluids of any kind. I wrapped it all up neatly instead with the all-important love and marriage bit, and released a completing sigh of relief. I intended that sound, in the dark, to signal an unspoken “the end” to her relatively benign line of questioning. Unfortunately, my daughter is a keen listener with an inquisitive mind and an attorney for a mother.

She queried, “So how exactly how do those little swimmers get inside the woman?” I had purposely been vague over this issue, skipping from confirmation of the existence and touching of body parts, (yes, naked) to the fertilization process. I was not interested in explaining those mechanics. “They just, come out. When it’s time.”

This led to another line of questioning which shall also remain confidential.

I was now officially sweating underneath the covers. I was praying. “God, would you please end this conversation by striking the house with lightning or making me suffer a heart attack?” In lieu of a natural disaster or fatal illness, I was evaluating Plan B: suggesting a late night trip to the basement freezer for a raid on the secret stash of peanut butter ice cream.

“OK Mom. So … tell me this. Do you have to do this once, or every time you want a baby?”

I chuckled that even at age nine a female was using the phrase “have to” to inquire about the expected frequency of sex. She thought somehow from my description that you got married, had sex once, and then it opened some magic portal inside that allowed you to start popping out babies. I broke the news that you do in fact “do it” each time you want a baby, and even in the dark I could feel her grimacing in disgust.

“And so – you and Daddy. You’ve done this.” It wasn’t really a question and now she was making a leap from theoretical to personal. I decided to be direct and factual and brief. I wiped my wet forehead with the covers first.

Me:  Yes.
Daughter:  And you’ve done this more than once, then?
Me: Yes.
Daughter: More than twice?
Me: Yes.

At this point, her disgust was turning into incredulous disdain. She absolutely could not believe that her mother, her own mother, had participated in this awful practice.

Daughter: Since I’ve been born?
Me: Yes.
Daughter: Mom! Recently?
Me: Yep.

And then it was silent.

I heard her clammy hands wringing and her dry mouth crackling. She was in shock, probably wondering about the very spot where she was now laying. I sensed her eyes rolling back in her head, spinning like an endless slot machine.

I told her it was late and we should go to sleep and apparently she was too emotionally exhausted to continue with the assault and battery. I’m a firm believer in the slow leak of information, and what just happened was more like standing in front of an open fire hydrant, trying to take a drink. I hugged her and told her we could talk more whenever she wanted. In other words, I lied.

The only saving grace was what occurred the next day when I posted the fact of the exchange on my Facebook page. I quickly received over 50 comments from horror-stricken parents like myself. It was wonderful.

So, that’s how it happened. That’s how, in the dark, I admitted to my nine year old that I was having sex with her father. It was like that moment when, after ten years of marriage, I told my Daddy I was pregnant and we all had to recognize the obvious way it happened. But this was a lot sweatier.


41 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Courtney
    Dec 21, 2012 @ 05:42:14

    I can’t believe I waited so long to read this! I only WISH my daughter would want to talk to me about sex. About anything related to growing up. We’re really struggling with it, and your blog made me feel so much better! I laughed out loud over and over, thinking of you two dancing through the conversation – how wonderful that she got to hear about it straight from her mother instead of a gaggle of 5th grade boys!


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  3. Jane
    Oct 10, 2012 @ 12:06:16

    HAHA! Oh no! Not even having kids yet, I’m terrified of this moment. You handled it much better that I would have. In fact I don’t think you could have handled it better. I’m sure I would have just started talking about birds and bees to thoroughly confuse her because even knowing how it all works now, I still don’t understand how birds and bees correlate. And, you know lying is always the right path to go down with your kids. Ah, I’m going to be an awful parent. lol


    • Lori Volkman @ Witty Little Secret
      Oct 10, 2012 @ 21:55:03

      Congratulations, you passed! You may now have kids. Also, as long as I can still admit I’m lying it’s all good. It’s when I belive I’m telling the truth that we all need to start worrying. Heh.


  4. nJamie
    Oct 10, 2012 @ 09:48:45

    Great post. I cannot imagine this day but I know it will come eventually. I’m sweating just thinking about it


    • Lori Volkman @ Witty Little Secret
      Oct 10, 2012 @ 21:53:32

      Ha ha … run away! I can’t imagine doing this with eye contact. Praise the good Lord it was pitch black in that room. Sperm is scary in the daylight.


  5. John Erickson
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 16:23:17

    Fortunately, dogs and cats don’t ask those kind of questions, so I’ve dodged that particular live round. I figure I caused my father enough grief (compliments of what I thought was SUPPOSED to be quite the witticism from me) for two generations! 😀
    (Gee, me blurt out something inappropriate? NEVER! 😉 )


  6. Leah
    Oct 05, 2012 @ 10:04:53

    I love your writing Lori! I do hope it wasn’t our 4th grader who shared this informative information with Olivia…Her older sister thinks it’s her job to give her sister the “facts” way too early!!


    • Lori Volkman @ Witty Little Secret
      Oct 05, 2012 @ 10:18:43

      I don’t think it was, but I can’t be sure. Olivia isn’t squealing, even under direct examination. Also, I find your comment much more interesting than your husband’s comment on FB which was … “I sure hope this won’t be affecting Olivia’s game on Saturday. We need her to bring her A-Game.”

      And that’s another reason moms should talk to their girls about sex right there.


  7. Gail
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 17:38:51

    😀 You are phenomenally phenomenal!
    Sorry for your torture – we’ve all been there. But thanx for the chuckles! (not laughing at you, laughing WITH you)


  8. Jenni
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 17:12:15

    Great story Lori! Always keep the lines of communication open. My sons are 18, 11, and 5. With hubby’s multiple deployments, I have had a lot of explaining to do when the questions come up. And my boys ALWAYS seem to ask theirs right when we sit down for dinner. Everything from, “What is the white stuff that comes out?” (Almost choked on that one) to “I want to know EXACTLY how that baby got in your tummy and EXACTLY how it’s coming out?”(Thank God for TLC’s A Baby Story). So I feel ya sista. I have always been honest with my sons, and have always answered their question the best that I could. My oldest just left for boot camp, and told me that he always knew he could always come to me with any question, anytime, anywhere. Because he knew I would always tell him the truth, even when he didn’t want to hear it.
    So keep the lines of the communication open, trust me, you want it that way. When Sweet Pea is in her teens, you’ll want her to come to you, than whatever she hears from friends or school. JMO…………….


  9. Chantal
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 13:37:32

    Oh goodness. I can’t imagine the day I have to do this!


  10. Mel
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 11:21:14

    I love this. It sounds like you were honest, but appropriate in the amount of information. You would have been even more terrified had it happened they way it did for my mother. I was 5. No joke. And I was very clinical after reading a book about it (“Where Do I Come From?” – great resource!) My father tried to crawl under the couch and my mother handled it like you. We never talked about sex again until I was 14 and started having “boyfriends.” Those are worse because it is more about safe sex, and kissing, and what “counts” than they are informational. 🙂


  11. Al
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 10:44:09

    Thank your lucky stars, Lori. At least she wasn’t explaining it to you.


  12. Trinity Rivers
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 09:21:31

    You did a great job. My daughter pinned me against the wall a few times. I was one of the lucky ones whose kid didn’t press the issue. You have one smart and curious kid.


    • Lori Volkman @ Witty Little Secret
      Oct 04, 2012 @ 09:41:47

      I sense more pressing in my future. Thankfully I’ll be armed with all the good advice in these comments. Ask puberty questions, read and reference sex books, and wear a top that reads, “My kids asked me about sex and all I got was this stupid t-shirt.”


  13. Bill Slack
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 09:14:15

    Been there, Done that, Got the tee shirt. Fortunately (or, perhaps, unfortunately) I was deployed during most of the formative years of bothy my daughters. I was, however, present when my eldest burst in on us as we were “doing it”. Massive embarrassment and flushed faces – and hers was also.

    Now, her daughter (a junior in college) is staying with us and has asked, politely, if we’d hold down the noise in the dark of night.

    What goes around, comes around.


  14. Kat
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 09:02:16

    Maddie has known the facts, just the facts, m’aam, for a couple of years now. However, she has not yet made the leap to the fact that her parents had to do it at least once. Right now, I’m ok with it all being hypothetical.

    Good for you for not puking, too. 🙂


  15. Kay Meyer (@Kay_Meyer)
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 08:11:47

    I’ve got two book recommendations for you: “From Diapers to Dating” and “It’s Perfectly Normal” — both were instrumental to our family as we navigated these discussions in a way that honored the questions and ages/maturity levels of our kids. I’m so glad you have such an open relationship with your daughter. Keep those lines of communication open — it only gets more interesting from here! 🙂


    • Lori Volkman @ Witty Little Secret
      Oct 04, 2012 @ 08:18:19

      In all seriousness, it was a great discussion. Just unplanned! Thanks for the tips. My girlfriends and I have a joke about a sister who never has anything to share, but always just sends books to answer every question. So I kinda laughed … but thank you for real!


  16. Elizabeth Thomas
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 07:56:06

    My son also went quickly to how many times you had to “do it” to make a baby. The smart kid was even factoring in twins “twice or just once Mom?” Like Sweetpea, he was clearly disgusted by the whole idea. That was about 2 years ago. Now he giggles like a silly 13 year old and tells me facts about sex that I think I only learned 7 months ago. Thankfully I keep him in check by continually asking him
    embarassing questions about his progress in the puberty department.


  17. Chris P.
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 07:55:28

    OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I am soooo glad my kids are all grown up… I will have to say that when I look at my very pregnant daughter it does sometimes make me cringe to know how she got that way… even though she is married, an adult she is my baby girl…


  18. scott1222
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 07:51:33

    Good blog! But what I want to know is this going to have any affect on “Sweet Pea’s” soccer ability because we really need her A game this weekend…


  19. sharprightturn
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 07:47:39

    Oh my….you certainly have a way of telling a great story. I think I was sweating while reading it. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing….I have tucked away the humor, the approach, and the emotional pieces of your story in preparation for my own (near) future “clandestine operation gone terribly wrong.” I have 10 and 11 year old girls.


    Oct 04, 2012 @ 07:43:57

    Oh, man. I love you.


  21. Bethanne
    Oct 04, 2012 @ 07:33:38

    You just made my day. 😀


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