“Mummy,” asks Squidge, “how do babies get born?”
“They grow in the mummy’s tummy.” I say.
“But how do they get in there?” She asks, wrinkling her nose.
“The daddy puts a seed in and it grows.” Simultaneously thinking: Oh good. This’ll be fun. Squidge is nearly seven years old. She was bound to ask this sort of thing sooner or later.
“But how? Does the mummy swallow it like sunflower seeds, or what?” She shrugs and screws up her face. She sounds perplexed.
“No,” I laugh, “you know how boys and girls are different, don’t you?”
“Yes,” she says, rolling her eyes and lowering her voice, “boys have willies.”
“Ok. And what’s the proper name for that?”
She tells me. I tell her, matter-of-factly, where the daddy puts the properly-named body part so that the ‘seed’ goes into the mummy’s tummy.
She looks at me, aghast. Then she eyes me shrewdly.
“No!” She cries. “You’re tricking me!”
I assure her I am not. She stares at me, curling her hair round her finger. Then asks, in the same, direct way, “So, can I do that and get a baby?”
I choke. “Um… When you’re grown-up and you get married, yes.”
“I don’t want to!”
“Good.” I laugh again. “But when you grow up you might change your mind. Babies are nice.”
“So can I do it with HRH?”
I choke again. “NO!” Regaining my composure, “He’s your brother. You can’t marry your brother.”
“Can I do it with Tom?”
I am very aware how inappropriate it feels to discuss possible sexual partners with my six-year-old.
“Tom is your cousin. You have to choose someone else.”
“Oh,” Squidge continues, blithely, “what about James?”
“Well, if he wants to marry you when you grow up, yes you can have babies.”
“Oh good. I’d like to marry James.”
‘Awww,’ I think. ‘How sweet.’ I say, “Why’s that, poppet?”
She gazes up at me with those big blue eyes, still twirling a strand of hair around her finger, innocence personified. “Because he’s littler than me and asks me lots of questions. I like telling him what to do.”
Out of the mouths of babes, and all that…