Awkward Parenting Moment, Courtesy of NPR

I want to start by saying I came up with this title purely in jest. I read geeky magazines, tomes of literature and listen to NPR. Some people find that strange since I am pretty balanced politically and can smell BS like it’s a diaper can filled to the brim. But that is neither here nor there. I dress up as Nerderella 365 days a year, so it’s not just a Halloween costume. But I must tell you about the time I had to have “The Talk” at 7am one cold winter’s morn, all thanks to NPR.

It was not a normal Saturday. My husband was going to sit for the first level of the CFA, cue the boring elevator music. Peanut and I had dropped him off for his eight hour exam. I had coffee in the car, but it was early and I had not even taken the first piping hot sip when a special came on about World AIDS Day. Listening intently, driving bleary eyed down the road, a little voice piped up from the backseat.

Mommy, what’s AIDS?” I managed to pull my car back into the lane before side swiping anyone. It was early, the addict was not caffeinated. Peanut was only 6 at the time. So, I tried to take the easy route. “Honey, it’s a disease of the blood. Some scientists think it came from Africa.” Easy enough.

“How do you get AIDS?” Another easy answer, “Well, it can be passed from infected persons via blood transfusions.” Win. I was doing this and all without coffee.

“Is there any other way you can get AIDS?” Have I ever mentioned that Peanut will ask the same question twenty different ways if he thinks you are going to give him a different answer?

So, I was honest. “Yes. You can get AIDS from having sexual intercourse.” I thought this was the end of the road. Done. Over with. I am a fool.

“So, do you have to have a lot of sex, or a little sex. Does this mean that if “A” (mega-cute first grade girlfriend) and I get married, we will get AIDS?”

Why wasn’t my husband here? OY! Doesn’t Peanut realize it’s 7am, I am un-caffeinated and having what appears to be a nervous breakdown? Of course not. So, I mustered up all of the conviction I had left in me at this point and asked “Do you know what sex is?”

What came next caused me to exert the greatest effort in my life to do two things. One, keep a straight face. Two, lie to my child. Not just a little white lie, but a big bold, in your face, I’m can’t handle telling you the truth lie.

Peanut responded “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sex is when a boy and girl lie together in the bed, kiss and then they have a baby.” Score one for Mom!! Woo Hoo!! I did exactly what anyone in my predicament would have done. Said yes. I was done. It was over with. No more questions!

However, not to be outdone by Mom, Peanut then piped up from the back seat with the question that did me in. “So, how do you do sex?” I can hear Eddie Murphy kinda giggle and say “do sex” as an aside.

How do I do this? What do I do? Who am I? You know who I was? A woman, grasping at straws, wondering what I had done to be in such a torturous form of hell. Gathering up what little bit of sanity I had left at the moment and taking a swig of the steaming hot coffee that had been in my cupholder for a few minutes, it hit me. Angels sang! The stars shone brightly, like a gleaming beacon (I realize that it’s after 7am, cut a gal some slack).

I knew what to do. Just give it to him straight. “Peanut. You know you have your boy parts and I have my girl parts?” He brushed me aside, ” Yeah, yeah, yeah. I have a penis, you have a vagina. That still doesn’t answer my question, Mom. How do you do sex?”

As parents, we never want to gross our kids out to the point they are gagging unless they are teens, but that morning I knew it had to be done. “Peanut. The boy puts his penis in the girls vagina. That’s how do you “do” sex.” It was out. Freedom! Sweet victory was mine! He had the answers to his questions, I hadn’t wrecked the car and we had both survived.

However, as soon as those words left my mouth, chaos erupted in the form of indignant spouting from the little blue booster seat. “Mom! That’s disgusting. How can people do such a thing. Let me tell you one thing, I am never getting the AIDS and I am never having sex!” Throw in gagging noises, him slumping over his seat and ranting in righteous indignation that people could ever do such a thing meant that our discussion was over for the time being.

Oh yeah, by the way honey, next time it’s your turn.

Note: We have had the talk since that time. It’s been an ongoing discussion in our home just as my mother, “Trauma Nurse”, did with me and my sister. It is my personal belief that ongoing educational discussion help our children not only feel more free to keep an open conversation with us as parents, but make them more likely to want to discuss things with us as they mature. It’s no longer embarrassing when treated openly in my personal experience.


  1. Absolutely PRICELESS! And it really speaks volumes. As a single woman who is usually driving alone (I know, bad girl, big carbon footprint), I don’t think as much about things I hear on the radio when I’m driving to and from work. No kids in the car, and I tune out the bull. But there’s so much in everyday media where you would have to wonder, what if a child heard this? How would you answer those questions? The AIDS question is a huge undertaking for any child, and you hit a home run. You didn’t oversimplify it, but you didn’t run it into the ground and talk about CD4 counts, viral loads, psychosocial issues, and things that say, a less balanced medical-type nerd might drive into the ground ;)…

    It is frightening in a sense…the up-to-the-minute communication tools we have, between TV, radio, and the internet, could easily put certain issues on the front burner for a parent long before they should be there, and long before a child can really absorb it. My hat is off to you for handling that with so much grace, wisdom…and humor! 🙂

    Of course, your blog had a “throw the mirror in your face effect of helping me realize what may be one of the cosmic reasons I don’t have children right now. To the question, “How do you do sex?”, my answer would have been:

    “It’s been so long that quite honestly I can’t remember…so I guess I’d do it any way I could.”

  2. Way to handle a sticky situation!! I would have loved to be a fly on the wall of your car that morning!
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  3. It goes to show you that honesty is the best policy even with our young children about subjects we don’t want to discuss.
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  4. They always say answer exactly what they are asking WHEN they ask it, but I think they assume the kid will stop the questions at some point. Apparently THEY don’t know YOUR kid! ha! 🙂

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