Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Biology Lessons, Part 2

True to form, Ryan has asked me a few more questions about sperm and baby-making. As you'll recall from a few days ago, he decided to create some sperm sculptures out of clay to help him integrate this new information. Kind of ingenious, really.

I'm beginning to refer to him as a Method Learner which is similar to a Method Actor, who immerses himself in a role by becoming that character. When Ryan wants to learn something, he goes beyond committing a few facts to memory. Rather, he embraces the idea down to the very core of his being, creates it, breaks it down, runs around with it, builds it, sleeps with it, makes up peopleguy jobs with it, talks about it, talks to it, imagines it, prints signs about it and puts them all over the house, etc. until he is through with that particular idea and is on to something else.

Hence this very real need to wear peopleguy uniforms and possess the appropriate equipment and tools. It is a NEED, I'm not exaggerating. If we don't have the exact right costume available, he will not rest until he has created a reasonable facsimile thereof. (I'm banking on this need to get him to learn how to do his own laundry, actually, since he is becoming quite cranky with me when just the shirt he's looking for is not clean, folded, and in his dresser.)

Maybe all children are like this to some degree--probably, now that I think about it. Since Ryan is my first, this is all new to me. Morgan has really become interested in creativity and/or pretend play--usually she pretends she is some kind of cute, fuzzy animal--but I suspect that Ryan is perhaps extreme or unique in some way that I can't quite put my finger on. Those of you who have met him in person might be able to shed some light on this, since it's hard for me to be completely sure, what with living with him and all. Really, though, young children are fascinating humans. I love meeting and playing with remarkably engaging children, I love trying to figure out how their minds are working.

So anyway, I wrote all of this to lead up to another chapter in Ryan's fascination with sperm. This whole procreation process is very much on his mind, as previously mentioned. He told me the other night that he just still wasn't very sure about how the sperm got inside the mommy so that she can grow a baby in there, remarking,

I really think I need to see it, because I'm just not sure where the penis is supposed to go. I'm kind of imagining it goes on her belly button, but I'm not sure. Because when it's time for me to make a baby, how am I supposed to know what to do?

And here is where I think the Method Learning style is going to have some limitations.

(By the way, where oh where is his father when he has these questions?!?!?!?!)

It took a few minutes for me to recover from the unexpected turn that this ongoing discussion had taken. My mind went blank for a second, then began to race wildly, looking for an answer that would be A) age-appropriate and truthful and B) allowed me to speak without choking with laughter. I took a deep breath and we went over the, ah, procedure again. I told him that sex is a private thing, but tried to let him know that when the time comes, when he is much, much older, that he will know what to do.

I don't know, I really hope that explanation will hold him for a while (but I'm sure it won't!). Honestly, I have to wonder if next he's going to create some new kind of clay sculpture that might not be appropriate for posting on a blog. !!!

Really, I am quite proud of myself for answering all these questions--most of my information did not come from my parents because by the time I had questions (I was a few years older than Ryan), everyone was all awkward about it. So, go me.

Still, I'm a bit ready for a change of subject. :o)


Anonymous said...

Tell him the truth. He's seen his sister naked, I'm sure, so he knows that girls and boys are built differently, right?

So just point out that the sperm goes into the uterus through the vagina, and that nine months later the baby comes out the same way, and that these are private things, so he can't see it.

Rational Jenn said...

Hi Anon, thanks for stopping by. If I wasn't too clear in the post, I'll clarify now. A) We always tell him the truth about everything and B) he has been told (and told again) how it works! I think he must have forgotten somehow, or got hung up on the belly button? But, ah, showing him is where I draw a big old line!

So, yeah, we covered it (again), and 'splained that this is private. Still, I expect more questions!

C. August said...

A_ hasn't started asking these questions yet, though she's only 4. Of course we'll tell her the truth -- truth within the context of her age and what she is able to comprehend -- but it will certainly be interesting when it happens.

And no, I don't know any kids that are as relentlessly inquisitive and who process knowledge quite like Ryan. He is a unique and funny individual. Very impressive.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I think you have a very smart kid on your hands!

My daughter, now 22, was like your Ryan. At four she knew everything I was willing to tell her about reproduction. And since her little brother was not born yet, I had real problems about "how the sperm gets into the mommy." Grays anatomy helped. It is illustrated with drawings, not photos, and since all of the nerves, blood vessels and other such are shown, it did not seem so explicit.

I don't know if that would work for Ryan, but you might try.

Anonymous said...

I thought it seemed odd that you wouldn't be totally clear, but then, when asked, I almost told my niece (same age) that I "didn't know" how the baby got out of the body. (Fortunately, common sense appeared and she got the truth, because, of course, I *do* know.)

That makes sense that he's stuck on that subject. After being explained to again and again, my niece still thinks we have to be cooked and eaten before we can be born....