Monday, September 9, 2013

Is it ever too early for "The Talk"?

We hardly had anything left to do after the Science Festival at Bangalore, for which we had gone all the way, from Chennai.

We spent two days at the festival and also met up with some dear homeschooling friends and their kids. We had finished saying our goodbyes to one friend and her family, who were leaving India soon.

We had been to the Porsche showroom down the road from where we were staying, just so that Raghav could see a Porsche car up close and even get to sit inside it, at the wheel!

We had also spoken to my cousin, who wanted to and agreed to drive back to Chennai with us.

I was also a bit uncomfortable to leave a day later, as I would have to sit in the car for so many hours when I had just got my periods, and the flow was usually heavy after the first day. I too wanted to leave earlier than planned.

And so we talked to Raghav too and changed our plans to leave for Chennai a day early. Raghav had initially agreed, but all of a sudden changed his mind and insisted we leave a day later, as we had originally planned. Nothing that we said convinced him to go with the changed plan. I was in a fix and anxious.

While I was lost in my thoughts, wondering how to make Raghav understand, I heard my husband explaining to Raghav all over again as to why we wanted to leave. Among many of the reasons, he  mentioned that I was "not well" and so wanted to go back home soon.

Raghav, who was all the while lying down and playing on his iPad, suddenly sat up, closed his iPad and looked worried. "Why? What happened to amma? She looks ok. Why do you say she is not well?" he asked with concern. My husband and I looked at each other. We were not prepared to answer this. I don't think anyone can be completely prepared to answer any question, especially the ones that kids ask....because of the way they ask and the timing - they usually catch you unawares :)

My husband started: ".... you know, it is a woman's will know when you grow up a little more..." I could see Raghav's eyes light up. He was curious about the little mystery cloud that was gathering in front of his eyes. Obviously he wanted to know more, and right now!

I suddenly found myself and the words. I was no longer my old self, trying to "deal with" or "convince" him about things in a wishy washy way, or saying "I don't know" when I was actually feeling that I did not know how to explain to him. I was my new, aware self - I wanted to be completely honest and true to myself and him. I wanted to answer that question. I wanted to look at my son, and his feelings and thoughts with respect and love; not out of fear and distrust. I did not ask myself if this was indeed too early for "the talk". When did age become a criterion for learning anything, I wondered?

Just as my thoughts about these thoughts changed, I realised that everything around me changed too. My husband did not interrupt or try to steer the conversation away into something more manageable. I did not feel hesitant or queasy to answer his question....and the answer came in its own time, in its own way - softly and surely.

I told Raghav how I bleed every month. I told him what happens inside my body at that time, why we see blood, what we do about it, what it means when girls / women get their periods, how I feel in my body at that time, what I need to do and why etc. He listened with rapt attention in silence.

He immediately agreed to leave the same day. There were just no more questions from him after that. The mystery cloud had lifted and moved away on its own.

A few days later, while I was hanging clothes out to dry and chatting with him about genetic modification, genes etc., he asked me how babies are formed and born. So I explained how the sperm and ovum meet to form an egg that grows in the uterus into a baby, and he in a very matter-of-fact manner said: "...yes....I know happens when they mate..." He then told me how he had read in a book about animals mating, how each zebra's stripes are unique, how some things get passed on through our genes and so on. He had processed all that information in his own unique way, that I did not know of or hadn't understood.

Learning, I feel is so much like the is cannot see it happen, but you can feel it in your gut and can feel it when it moves or makes things move.....just like the wind....when it moves your heart and soul to timeless spaces and little niches that you tucked away safe, somewhere deep inside....

So then, is it ever too early for "The Talk"? Or anything else for that matter?

When every moment is cherished for all its worth, when every question that comes up is seen as food for thought and a stepping stone to explore forgotten pathways, then learning becomes a joyous celebration of the human spirit, that is timeless and ageless...

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