I often wonder what the girls will say about their home growing up. I grew up in a home where my dad worked in health care administration so I was familiar with the halls of a hospital and nursing home. Mom was working full time too so we stayed with our grandparents after school. I have lots of amazing memories from those days and hope my girls will as well. But, as you might imagine, our house is a little more crazy. Midnight phone calls sometimes come for the Pastor, sometimes for me. Emergency babysitting needs are not infrequent. Dinner conversations are, to say the least, interesting.
My oldest never really had a desire to know what I was doing while at work. In fact, she gets nauseated when some other kid at school gets a bloody nose. But my little one, well, she is totally into mom’s career. I remember finishing up dinner one evening and I was called to the hospital as my patient was ready to delivery. She looked at me and said, in her best pirate voice, “is that lady gonna push out her baby or are you gonna cut it out?” I lost it. She was holding up a butter knife from the table like she was going to come and help me. I politely explained that my patient was probably going to push the baby out but I and a whole team of people would be there in case cutting was needed. She seemed relieved. The older one just rolled her eyes.
The Pastor and I have always tried to be honest with our kids. We figure that eventually they will encounter all the joys, fears and difficulties of life and the more information the better. It’s how I operate in daily life. Knowledge and information is comforting and empowering to me. That being said we have always tried to teach our kids the truth about their physical, as well as their theological health. The rules in our house are that the Pastor will explain the Trinity and the resurrection to them and I will tell them where babies come from. And so they know about their bodies. When they are taking a shower and spilling water everywhere I will hear one of them saying “don’t forget to wash your vagina” to the other in the loudest voice possible. It’s no different for them then making sure all the shampoo is out of their hair or than their stinky feet are clear. For many years this declaration was followed by the Pastor or I asking “and who is allowed to see your vagina?” and them shouting out names off a list like it was a Jeopardy game. Names that include mom, dad, Dr. Melissa (another hero to my 4 year old), and Grandma.
There is a reason why we approach our kids with anatomically correct names. And it’s not just because hearing a 9 year old screaming at her sister about washing the thing is entertaining (although that is hilarious sometimes). It is more about empowering them. I wanted them to know from an early age that their bodies belong to them. They should be handled responsibly and, most importantly, they can be honest with the Pastor and I about whatever is happening to their bodies. I think we do a disservice to our kids when their genitals become “woo hoos” and “ding dongs” and even “private parts.” We disempower our kids to call it like it is. To tell us, out loud, what is happening to them in private. I want to know if anyone is making them feel uncomfortable.
So at our house we have dinner discussions on how babies are born and what God looks like and who this Holy Spirit character is. We remind them daily to always choose kindness and to act like the Jesus they hear about each week at church. And they will continue to ask how long mom will be gone delivering those babies and whether they are being pushed out of someone’s vagina, or cut out of someones uterus. I have my speech ready for when they ask how babies get inside the uterus. But for now they are satisfied knowing who is picking them up from school and when mom will be home. And I am satisfied knowing they have been empowered to know their bodies and speak up whenever and to whomever when they feel uncomfortable. And to call it like it is.