Momma, do you mate like tigers?

– written by Axon –

“Momma, do you mate like tigers? “ My eight year old asked me this question sitting at the breakfast table completely straight-faced.

My son has had a long-standing love affair with tigers. He reads about them, has an elaborate pretend game with his best buddy, and apparently, has learned how they mate. Now I’m a biologist, so this shouldn’t throw me, but having to explain to my naïve son about the birds and the bees throws me for a loop.

As you can imagine we watch plenty of NOVA and the Discovery Channel around our house, so the kids get inundated with facts about the natural world. I’m fine with some things: fish spreading sperm on top of laid eggs? Sure! Hermaphroditic sea slugs jousting penises? No problem. But, telling my wide eyed little man where human penises go?  I’m struck dumb, my mouth opening ineffectually producing sounds like ‘ummmm,’ and ‘uhhhh.’

This is partly because little boys have such a love affair with their own penises. They’re constantly touching, shifting, commenting on them and showing it to me when it ‘gets big.’ I don’t want to ruin the magic for them. Let them think for awhile longer that they are simply there for their own amusement, that their main function is for peeing and for giggling while waving it around at their brother when they’re both naked. Why spoil it with the facts?

I know, I know. I need to instill in them a healthy body image, ease in talking with me about uncomfortable topics, blah, blah. Believe me. I’m not hung up about sex or nakedness or mating like tigers. I’ll explain it to them. Just not yet.

My partner and I have an ongoing game of you’re it with the chat on the horizon about masturbation. The oldest now is eleven, and so this conversation should really happen soon. I shudder at the thought. My plan is to show them this video and hopefully never speak of it again.

Like a lot of things, I now understand why my mom opted for Where did I come from?  replete with dancing sperm in tuxedos. It makes it kind of familiar, digestible, and she didn’t have to say a word.

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