When I was about eight years old or so, I asked my mother, "Mum, how do people make babies?"
She was looking through her wardrobe at the time, and I was lying across her bed on my stomach. I recall her suddenly looking very uncomfortable before answering, "I'll tell you when you're sixteen."
Before I'd even left primary school, I'd read Judy Blume's Forever under the desk one day when I was supposed to be at PE class. I can't remember who had brought it to school, but it was my introduction to sex. I remember feeling 'naughty' because I was reading it. It felt as though I was crossing over in to some forbidden territory.
Then there was a time that I disclosed to my niece (who is my age) on a sleepover at her place one night that when people make babies, they have to be naked. I still can't recall how I knew this vital information (possibly this happened after reading Forever). Certainly, my mother did not disclose this.
My niece replied, "What? They can't even wear their socks?" And I assured her they could not. (Of course, this is very untrue. The amount of clothing one wears depends on how much time one has, or how cold it is, right?)
The next day, my sister and brother-in-law were driving me home when my niece piped up with, "Mum, Jodie says that when people make babies they have to be NAKED." My sister was horrified and refused to make a comment other than, "I don't want to hear you talking about such things."
Anyway, eventually I found out all about 'it' on my own.
I remember vowing that things would be different with my kids. That I would most certainly have 'the talk' with them when the time was right.
In Eldest Son's Year 4 class last year, one of the Integrated Units (what the kids call 'the big question of the term') was on the Human Body. He started to ask about how women became pregnant - how did the baby actually get in there? How does the baby come out?
And you know what I did? I dodged every question. In fact, there may have even been a 'special cuddle' theory thrown about once or twice.
But here's the thing. At first, I thought this may have everything to do with the way my own parents dealt (or didn't deal) with the subject of sex with me. Although I think it is most definitely partly that, deep down I think I really do believe that when kids are nine or ten years of age, they are still so young. Perhaps too young yet to really take all this information on board?
I have a few concerns. Firstly, are my boys really old enough to treat this information with respect? Already the penis, poo and wee jokes are wearing thin. Wouldn't this information just give them more to work with? (Not to mention help them work out what the words to Flo Rida's Whistle song really means?)
Do they need to know the ins and outs (pardon the pun) of sex at such a young age? How does it benefit them to know about it at age eight, nine or even ten? For me, it just feels like this is yet another thing that parents feel they have to introduce early to their kids. Kids grow up so quickly these days, and we expect so much of their young minds. Is it possible this is just another thing we're rushing in to with them?
Lastly, will my boys look at Mr A and I differently when they find out what we've been up to? It's like ... we'll suddenly become more human to them, rather than their parents ... you know?
I think I understand the benefits of telling them sooner rather than later, and that is that they'll hear the correct information straight up. There would be no Chinese whispers between friends confusing or even scaring them. And mark my words ... I don't want to hide this information from them either. I don't want them to think that sex is dirty or wrong or embarrassing.
So, I wonder, if you're a parent, what age do you think it's appropriate to explain sex, pregnancy and birth to your kids? And how would you tackle (once again, pardon the pun) it?