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     "Mommy, what is sex?"

     I don't know about you, but when I envisioned this question making it's way to our house, I didn't anticipate the words Mommy and sex to be in the same question! Seven years old has to be too early for this, right? Although, it's not like I live with my head in the sand. I knew the time was drawing near when someone in my house would pop the inevitable sex question.... I had just hoped it would be once they were done with bed wetting and all.
     But ready or not, the question was out there with nary a warning or hint of its coming. There I stood, innocently pushing the baby in his swing - Taylor on the swing next to us and Cameron playing in the dirt at our feet. And there it was. "Mommy, what is sex?" Taylor's Minnie Mouse voice echoed out. I think that even the baby choked on his thumb at that moment. Cameron's head popped up and he immediately stood to attention, quickly forgetting whatever muddy contraption he'd been constructing just moments before.
     I gasped out a few Ums and Hmmms and Wells.... enough to write a book on How NOT to answer the sex question to your children. Finally, I created a sentence.

     "So, where did you hear that word, Taylor?"
     "All the kids at school say it."
     Stupid public school with its stupid sex-talking first graders....
     "And..... um, what do they kids at school say about it?"
     "They say that people do sex all the time."
     Phew.... if she's still calling it "doing sex", she can't know that much, right?
     "And what else do they say about it?"
     "Um.... they say that you have to take your clothes off."
     Sweet Jesus.
     This is where Cameron, in all of his third grade knowledge, piped in.

     "Nah-uh, Taylor. You don't have to take all your clothes off, just your pants."
     Taylor looked at him with annoyance and back to me, the Queen of great answers.
     "Mom, you don't really have to take your pants off to do sex, do you?"
     Ok. Moment of truth. Tell my young children the anatomically-correct version of sex or.... make up a crazy story about people doing sex with their pants on and babies magically appearing in cribs 9 months later.
     "So here's the thing.... people.... adults.... when they're married.... they want to have babies, you see? And when they want to have babies, they do a thing called sex."
     I looked at them to see if this was enough to answer their questions, to see if I really had to go on or not. They stared back at me with confused eyes, eager for clarification.
     "Um, ok. And when the mom and dad have sex, that's how the mom gets pregnant and can have a baby. Do you get it?"
     "Mom," Taylor interjected. "Do they take their pants off?"
     Good grief.
     "Yes. They do take their pants off."
     "But not their underwear, right, Mom?" Cameron added with utter certainty that he was correct.
     "Actually, they do have to take their underwear off.... it's just how it has to work."
     Both kids stared at me with mouths hanging open, disgust creeping into their eyes.
     "But Mom.... you had a baby," Taylor said in shock.
     Oh no. Ooohhhh no.
     She literally whispered the next question, I kid you not.
     "Mom, did you take your underwear off with Daddy???"
     I could see now that our relationship was forever going to be changed. No matter which way I played this, she was right. I DID have a baby. Her beloved Daddy and I had done sex... pantless... in the very house where she rests her head at night. And every single time our bedroom door will close from this point forward, she will assume we are doing sex all over again.
     I started to feel very warm. And uncomfortable. Warm and uncomfortable.
     "Um, that's how it works. If you want to have a baby, you have to take your underwear off. I don't make the rules, it's just how it has to happen."
     "Do you have to take your shirts off, too?" I felt like Cameron was staring at me like I was no longer the Mother he'd grown to know and love.
     "Well.... sometimes. You don't have to, but sometimes people do take their shirts off."
     Taylor literally laughed out loud. She offered no explanation, just cracked up for a good 30 seconds.

     "What's so funny?" Cameron asked.
     Choking back hysterics, Taylor responded, "I was just thinking how funny Mom would look with a shirt on but no pants!"
     Cameron joined the laughter instantly.
     Hey, now! Am I seriously getting body-shamed by my 7- and 9-year-olds??
     "Guys, come on. Be serious here, would ya?"
     They took a moment to compose themselves while I continued to push Wyatt in his swing. I watched him with envy as he enjoyed the spring breeze without a care in the world - no one demanding answers from him or picturing him half-naked. He's a lucky little guy.

     "Is sex the same thing as humping?" Cameron asked.
     Oh my GOSH, it's hot out here! What are we doing, breaking the heat record for the month of May already??
     "Uh, yeah.... same basic concept. But please never say that word again. Ever. It's inappropriate and... just.... don't."
     "Do you get a baby every time you do sex?" Taylor questioned.
     "No. Then we would be China."
     "Then why do people do sex, since they won't always get a baby?"
     I can't even do this....
     "Um.... practice. They practice making babies."
     "Does it feel good?"
     And it just got 10% hotter. She is just on a roll today, isn't she?!? Deep breath, Mama, deep  breath.
     "Does it feel like when you have to sneeze and it finally comes out? Because that feels good, but when I can't sneeze, it doesn't feel good and I hate that."
     "YES! That's exactly right! Good way to think about it."
     Yes. I did allow my child to compare sex to sneezing.... I had had enough truth-telling for one day!
     A silence settled over us. My panic started to subside, the May weather seemed to take on a more refreshing temperature, and I no longer felt the need to pop a Xanax.

     "So, will I do sex someday, Mommy?"
     OH MY GOSH! HEART ATTACK!!! Someone please call for a medic.... I thought we were dooonnne!
     "One day you will get married and you and your husband will want to have babies.... then and only then will you.... do sex. OK??"
     Taylor looked at me with big eyes. I think she realized she'd hit a nerve. So she nodded her agreement and then went back to swinging.
     Cameron, who had remained silent (probably fearful of giving more wrong answers) ended the conversation with this beautiful gem....

     "Mom, I don't want to have kids when I grow up. So that means I don't have to do sex, right?"
     "Cameron, that's exactly right."
     He beamed happily at the praise.
     "Good... because I look really stupid without my pants on."

     Bless these children..... Bless them.