A couple of weeks ago, I was enjoying a pleasant day at the California Science Center with my family, taking a break for lunch, when one of my four year old twins asked me, "Mamma, where did you buy me?"
A tad surprised by the question, since they are around pregnant women fairly often and know that babies reside in their mothers for several months prior to birth, I answered, "I didn't buy you; I made you."
"Oh, you made me?"
"But, *how* did you make me?"
"Let's talk more about it at home."
We were sitting right next to a table where there was a mom with her two year old and newborn, and I wasn't sure how appreciative she'd be of me sharing life's lessons that close by.
I have a feeling my daughter had imagined I had purchased tiny versions of each of them to insert into my belly and carry around for a few months before popping them right back out.
Naturally, when I got home I searched for ways to tell a preschooler that would be honest, direct, not overly informative in a manner that might potentially scare her, and open to questions. I ordered a book that has yet to arrive (Mommy Laid an Egg by Babette Cole), and then sat both of the girls down a day or two later to ask if they still wanted to know the answer to their question.
I told them that they were getting to be big kids, so they could learn about babies, but it's up to mommies and daddies to teach their kids, so they should keep the lesson off the preschool playground. (See an approximation of what I told them under "read more" after the writercize directions.) Of course they wanted to know. One drifted away after a couple of seconds while the other listened intently and repeated key words. After I was done talking, I asked if she had any questions, and she said "yes."
"Ok, what is it?"
"Did I wear a dress and shoes when I was born or was I naked in your belly?"
"You were naked."
"But then after I was born you put diapers and a dress on me?"
That was it (for now) - she ran off to play with her sister.
writercize: Pick a complicated subject for a preschooler (divorce, pregnancy, death) and break it down to an appropriate level for the audience.
I realize "appropriate" is a subjective word here. Just share what works for you! My example may seem too informative for some, but it falls within my personal goals in teaching them body awareness from the start.
Click "read more" for writercizer sample response about the birds and the bees, and the night you were conceived ...writercizer sample response:
When two people are grown-ups and they love each other very much, sometimes they talk about wanting to have children and share their life and love with new people in a family. When they decide that they are big enough and responsible enough to be mommies and daddies, they use their bodies like a puzzle. Daddies have a part that sticks out called a penis and they carry seeds. Mommies have a part that goes in called a vagina and they carry eggs. When they make the puzzle, the seed and the egg meet in Mommy and like magic they become one to make a baby. Then the mommy has to eat good food and visit the doctor and care for the baby inside her belly for nine months until it is big enough to be born.