“Mummy, did you eat me when I was a baby?”
My head snaps up as I stop whatever I’m doing and try to process this question. Where is that coming from? She is sitting on the toilet and I’m loading the washing machine while I wait for her to finish. Neither of us was talking. Until now.
“No! I did not. Why would you think that?”
A pause, while she tries to unravel the mystery in her mind. Instead of answering me, she counters with another question.
“Then how did I get inside your tummy?”
Ah! I do not know what brought this thought into her mind today but at least that explains her original question. At this point, I am not quite sure how to answer her but I must, for she is waiting for me to explain. Her dad is no help. I can tell he is not even trying to come up with an answer, as he continues to brush his teeth or wash his face… I forget now. So, how did she get inside my tummy?
“You didn’t get inside, sweetie. You were born in my tummy”
As soon as I say it, I realise that I haven’t really answered her question. I have but not in a way that I can clear the confusion a 3-year old has. I try again.
“You were already in my tummy, like a germ. The good kind of germ, not the bad ones like you have when you fall sick with a cold. This is the good germ. Then it became an egg. Do you remember the chickens at your daycare?”
It’s a rhetorical question. She doesn’t know that but I haven’t made my point yet, so she does not say anything. Maybe she nodded. I think she did, now that I think of it.
“So, just like the eggs became chickens later, you became a baby inside my tummy and then you came out”
That is about how far I can go with my explanation. I hope she got it. The hen and chicken analogy should help, I pray. They have just got a couple of chickens and some eggs in an incubator at her daycare. Some of them have since hatched into chickens. She and I watched some videos of eggs hatching when they first brought the eggs and chicks in. They were painfully slow videos but I guess no one can speed up the hatching of an egg to make a better video. I tried showing her a video of the hen laying an egg but she was grossed out. It was a excruciatingly slow process and the end was a bit confronting. The idea of the hen pooping an egg did not sit well with her, so we stopped watching it before the end. She watched the eggs hatching a few times.
The baby in the tummy conversation stopped with my last sentence. I could tell that she still was not a hundred percent sure of how she was born but the analogy made sense, albeit only vaguely. I am sure she will process this over the next few days and have more follow-up questions. Until then, I’ve dodged the bullet.
I’ve considered showing her some pictures or videos but she is too young to understand. I’m not sure what she will take from those.
How do you explain to your kids how they were born?