Friday, 9 March 2012

Me and sex education: boy in the bath

For  Фома́

When this takes place my son is five, he sits in the bath while I read Thomas the Tank Engine to him - I curse the Rev Awdry on a daily basis.  Suddenly he (Son, not Awdry) turns to me and asked,  'Muma, where do babies come from?'

I am not prepared for this, I break out in a sweat and start to hyperventilate.  This is an important, if premature moment.   I  make him play with dolls and watch Disney princess films - he is to be a new man - women in the future will thank me.  No, don't get excited - let me just say that my experience had shown that nature beats nurture hands-down.

I have always said I wouldn't lie to him - how easy to say this when your baby can't talk and ask awkward questions - Dutch courage is called for. I tell him to sit still, not to touch the taps and that I will be back in thirty seconds.
A pair of penetrating blue eyes judge me as he tells me I'm not allowed to leave him alone in the bath, in case he drowns and that Alfie's mother (thanks Shirley Hughes) would stay and read about Thomas.

Little prig - I think disloyally.

I run down to the kitchen and had a quick glug of neat gin (mother's ruin? No, more like mother's rescue remedy).  Run back upstairs and sit outside the bathroom where I can see him, but he can't see me. How to start -  birds, bees, hamsters?  Play-dough models - oh God -  should I do diagrams, what about Lego - he loves Lego?

'Muma, where are you?'
Damn, where is his father when you need him - this is man's work?  I take a deep breath and go in to the bathroom; the gin is being to work - I'm beginning to feel slightly less tense.
'You know you were asking about where babies come from?'

No , I can't do it.  Perhaps I should wait until he's older - keep it on a strictly need-to-know basis - the full horror of this thought hits me, perhaps after all five isn't such a bad age for sex education.
'Now about babies...', my voice is strange and wobbly.
'Mama, who do you like best - Gordon or Henry or do you like Annie and Clarabel because you are a girl?'
My lovely boy with a memory akin to a goldfish.

Thomas the Tank Engine I embrace you (not literally - there are limits, although I believe there are women who fall in love with inanimate objects) and am sorry for all the rude things I usually say about you.


  1. Oh what a pity! I'm sure he would have enjoyed hearing the story about the stork!

  2. Please don't worry on his behalf - I did my maternal duty at a later stage (fortunately have absolutely no memories of it!)