The horror of the birds and the bees

When my baby girl was five years old, I had to give her ‘the talk’. I don’t remember if my mum ever gave me this talk. I remember once asking about periods and getting a lot more information than I bargained for. The conversation ended with:
‘When you start bleeding, we’ll talk again.’

Strangely enough, I don’t remember much about the content of the conversation, except that it traumatised me for months. So I wasn’t looking forward to this talk with my girl.

Here’s what happened. We were watching some soap on TV, I forget which one. I don’t really like soaps, but she loves them, so I always know what’s going on. This guy comes onto the screen, and he’s talking to this girl who’s the resident vamp. They have this sex scene where he rips of her blouse – with permission of course – and pushes her onto the sofa before the screen blacks out. It was playfully rough, and my girl screams,

‘Oooh mummy! That’s fun. I want to do that.’

I was frozen for about two seconds, possibly longer, then I explained that it’s not a good idea until you’re married. Her response?

‘Then I want to get married. I like that stuff!’

I analysed the situation and figured she might think rough sex is a good thing, especially since the vamp later blackmails the guy, claiming she’ll use the ripped shirt as evidence of rape. I decided to give my girl the talk, because I want her to know that sex is lovely and beautiful, and should not involve having stuff ripped and being thrown on the sofa. I wanted her to get the facts from me. I don’t want her learning through myths taught by classmates and strange magazines. So while getting ready for school the next day, I told her we’d discuss something important when she got home.

When she arrived, she reminded me we needed to talk, so we sat cross-legged and I looked her in the eye. I was pretty nervous, so my hands were shaking as I held on to hers.

‘Princess, do you know girls are different from boys?’

‘Yes mum.’


‘Boys have a tail in front.’

I froze for a pretty long time. Why is she calling it a tail … and where exactly did she see one? Eventually, I cleared my throat and asked.

‘The neighbour’s baby has one.’


‘So, do you know what married people do?’

‘Yes. They kiss each other, and then they remove their clothes.’

‘And then?’

‘And then they say I love you. I like that mummy.’

‘Ok … so what happens after they say that?’

‘I don’t know. But I want to..

‘My palms were now shaking, and she was paying rapt attention.’

‘Well, Princess, after they remove their clothes, the daddy puts his … tail … inside the mummy.’


‘It’s not eew sweetie, it’s quite nice … when you’re married. It’s not scary.’

‘Where does he put the tail?’

‘Here,’ I said, pointing, because I couldn’t say vagina.

‘He puts his tail in her susu?’ she asked in shock.

‘No … not her susu – the hole near the susu. The place where I check when you’re feeling pain.’

‘Oh. Ok. Then what?’

‘Then sometimes, a baby grows in the mummy’s tummy.’

‘Then the mummy screams and the baby comes out!’ she squeals in excitement.

‘Yes princess.’

‘So when I grow up and get married, I can have a baby?’

‘Yes princess, you can.’


‘But you have to wait until you’re married, okay? If you do it before you’re ready, it will hurt and you might bleed.’


My little princess’ face clouded up, and I feared I’d gone too far.

‘It’s important princess. Some boys might give you sweets and tell you to let them put you a tail.’

Princess hesitates for a while, then says, ‘Susan went to the toilet with a boy and they kissed.’

Kissed?! They’re five years old!? What on earth? I tried to remain calm as I explained why kissing is a bad idea.

‘When a boy kisses you, he feels like he wants to put a tail on you. Do you understand?’

‘Yes mum, like Nicolas and Aimar. They kiss and then they put tail. I won’t let a boy kiss me.’

‘Until you’re married,’ I add quickly. I don’t want her thinking sex is bad. ‘This is our private talk princess, okay? Between me and you. Don’t let any boy cheat you with a sweet or put a tail on you eeeeeew! Yes mum!’

My princess then hugged me and went off to play. I’d added the caveat because I didn’t want her explaining the tails to her classmates. Let their parents deal with that.

A part of me was worried that I’d given too much detail. She now knew the mechanics of sex, so if she’s ever in that situation, she knows what to do. It’s almost like giving your child a condom. Is it sanctioning them indirectly to use it?

A few days later, I revisited the topic, and was surprised when she changed the subject.

‘Princess? I just wanted to see if you …’

‘Nooooo! Mummy I don’t want to talk about that. Let’s talk about something else.’

For days after, she’d change the subject at the very mention of tails. I don’t know what changed her attitude. She was perfectly open before. I can only assume she mentioned it to someone at school and was told tail talk is ‘bad manners’.

My princess is much older now, and we haven’t had talked tail in a while. She mentioned that some boy in school had given a girl a sweet, lured her into the toilets, taken her clothes off, and gotten her wet. She believed the boy had urinated on her, and I pray that’s all it was. The boy was 5 years old, the girl was 3. The matter was reported to the teacher. The next week a different boy allegedly took others to the toilet and played with their tails. She also asked me what a middle finger means, then suggested I stop typing with it.

I don’t know how she feels about all this, because she won’t really say. I guess she can’t express the emotions in words. But I remind her to avoid boys who try to force her, and to never be alone with a guy until she’s married. It’s a scary world out there.

It’s never too early for birds and bees. They may be embarrassed and squeamish, but you really do want them to learn these things from you.

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