A few years ago, while my sister's eldest child C sat eating waffles in the family kitchen, he began to ask his mom pressing questions about where babies come from. KO handled the awkward moment and then relayed the story to me by saying that what she really wanted to tell C was "shut up and eat your waffles." Since then, "shut up and eat your waffles" has been our family code for those awkward parenting discussions about where babies come from, how bodies work, and all the rest of that nonsense.
At 7:05 am Wednesday morning I had my own "shut up and eat your waffles" moment. As JT idly ate his pop tart, I flew through the house collecting our lunchboxes and backpacks. As I walked through the living room, my son said, "I have a question. How do you get a baby to grow inside you? Do you just tell God that you want one?"
I skidded to a stop, poured myself an extra cup of coffee, and answered the question. The backstory is essential here: JT is the product of a two-mom family and thus was conceived using donor sperm. Quite obviously, this makes explanations of where babies come from just a little more complicated.
So I explained about the sperm and the egg making a baby. I told him who brings what to the party ("mamas have eggs and dads have sperm," I said) and then I explained that a doctor gave me the sperm for my egg. The boy is smart and the obvious question hung in the air just a moment before he expressed it: "where did the doctor get the sperm?"
I took a gulp of coffee and then said that a nice man gave the doctor some sperm to help someone make a baby to love. JT nodded: this made sense to him. "Did you know the helper guy?" he asked.
"No," I said, "but I know some things about him: he was tall and liked to go camping and study science."
We talked about another little boy he knows who has two moms like JT. And I was out of the danger zone. Or so I thought until JT asked, "Hey! Does this mean that I have a dad?"
"No," I said. "A dad is someone you know; who lives with you and helps to take care of you."
"Okay," he said.
And then he went back to eating his pop tart. I'm off the hook. For now.