Out of nowhere in the car the other day, Alli asked if you could get pregnant if you weren’t married. Despite that I really want to be the kind of parent who is always open and honest and easy to talk to about this stuff, these questions from her always seem to catch me off guard and searching for the right words. I have also found that most adults either over or mis-interpret what the kid is actually asking about, and this was no exception. As I gently navigated the conversation with her, picking my words far more carefully than I would have expected to about the physical elements, I was also working hard to explain my rather liberal views about marriage, about single parenting, and about gay rights while still trying to convey a message about love, commitment and responsibility.
Her true intent began to finally emerge as she asked whether there were ways to still love someone and not get pregnant. Not having given her a really fruitful vision of what it takes to get pregnant, I tried to develop a munchkin-friendly version of abstinence. This didn’t seem to fully satisfy her, so I told her that there were other things a woman or a man could do, giving the example of taking a pill that stops the body from letting go of an egg that might become a baby. A huge look of relief struck her face, and I finally realized that this was actually a followup conversation to one a few weeks back where she informed me that when she grew up she didn’t think she would want to have kids unless she adopted them when they were about 7, because “babies are too much work”.
Alli: you can just take a pill?
Alli: you just have to swallow it and it’s little?
Mommy: um, yes.
Alli: that’s what I’d do then.
Mommy: ok. You have a lot of time before you have to worry about any of this, you know?
Alli: I know.
after a few moments of silence…
Alli: After I took the pill I’d drink a big glass of water.
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