I was preparing lunch for the kids when I heard agonizing moans and grunts coming from the other room. I dashed to the toy room and found my four-year old lying on her back, knees up, legs spread, holding her belly and her three-year old friend kneeling between her legs, saying in a gentle, assuring voice, “I can see the baby, it’s coming, just one more push…”
*Record scratch* Huh?!?
What the HELL happened to the stork?
Once upon a time, little children were told that a friendly stork delivered babies to the doorstep of young parents in a basket. This popular and widespread belief among children was no different than their complete trust in our vivid tales of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. And it was easy for children to blindly play along with the story of the stork. I mean, they believed a portly man slid down a chimney once a year to give them presents, and that a large bunny (maybe suffering some horrible hare hormonal-imbalance?) broke into their house and hid colorful eggs. So a large bird delivering newborn siblings made perfect sense, and it kept their innocence in check just a little bit longer.
However, sometime around the end of the 20th century, parents were told it was no longer acceptable to give toddlers cutesy names for their genitalia. As the mandate spread throughout the land in TV, movies, and popular publications, parents removed “Mr. Winkie” and “Miss Pee-Pee” from their vocabularies and coached their wee ones to pronounce “vagina” and “penis” with accuracy and precise enunciation.
And when our inquisitive toddlers asked us what a vagina is for, THE WORLD RESPONDED: “That’s where babies come from!”
Thus ended the legend of the stork.
My husband and I are old school. When our daughters were forming their first words, we did not pull out the genitalia flashcards with detailed diagrams and the bold, block letters, VAGINA and PENIS. We use cutesy names for their lady parts.
So, the question remains: How did my four-year old know that a baby was coming out of her vagina?
In my humble opinion, it was that damn decree that insisted parents use anatomically correct verbiage. It started a domino effect. FIRST, we gave permission for babies to speak like adults. THEN we gave permission for media and entertainment to discuss vaginas and penises without censure. AND THEN the inter-webs became popular and vaginas and penises were popping up everywhere!
Today, it seems that nothing is secret; nothing is private. We are a world obsessed with “reality.” My four-year old didn’t need me to tell her that a baby came from her vagina. She was educated by the “real” world.
Parents can keep their creepy elf on the shelf that spies on children and diminishes any notion of privacy. Or, the renewed St. Patrick’s Eve shenanigans I have heard of in recent years where a leprechaun leaves a mess in the home and gold coins for the children.
I miss the naiveté of children.
I mourn the stork.
Originally posted in Huffington Post on November 30, 2015 as Where Did the Stork Go?