I feel that I’m overdue explaining to my children (at least to my nine year-old) where babies come from. I’ve been delaying and delaying. They already have a vague sense of pregnancy and birth (my recent book is on pregnancy and media so certainly those words are talking about often in my house), but I’ve yet to do the big reveal.
This is not, as many may guess, because I’m embarrassed or feel awkward about having the first of “the talks.” Instead, it’s because of all those years being trained as a research scholar. I feel I’m still in the proposal phase of my project, and I’m not ready to commit to the dissertation. I’ve certainly done my review of literature. After I botched the whole what-happens-to-people-when-they-die question (which resulted in months of my son obsessed with cemeteries and near-death experiences), I decided I had to be better prepared for the next big question. I have read pretty much all the books on the subject. I now own “It’s Not the Stork,” “Where Do I Come From” and “It’s So Amazing,” and they sit up on my shelf right next to Foucault and Butler (it seemed to be the best place for them). I read article after article on talking to your children about sex and babies, and I conducted extensive ethnographic interviews with every parent I knew.
This is where things became muddled. Most sources advise that you should only offer a little information and not give the children more than they are asking for. I’m not sure that is the best method. As a professor, I have learned that half of my job is getting the students to ask the right questions; that doesn’t always happen by just sitting around and waiting. And, in contrast to the group of books I’ve mentioned above, too many other books indicate only how men and women make babies. What if my child never asks about how two men or two women get a baby? Am I supposed to just wait until that question comes up before I offer that information? Wouldn’t I be complicit in constructing the having-babies narrative in a heteronormative way? Or, am I over-professorizing a talk people have been giving for ages?
Either way, I’m ready to begin because, as I’ve told so many of my students, sometimes you need to move past the proposal stage, ready or not.