Of birds, bees, and body snatchers

by Wolf Pascoe on October 27, 2011

When I was a lad, about three foot three
Certain questions occurred to me
So I asked my father quite seriously
To tell me the story of the bird and bee.

— Harry Belafonte (“Man Piaba”)

When I was nine I became curious about the birds and bees. Little did I suspect it involved making a baby, a thing I had no curiosity about whatever. It just seemed something that old people said when they wanted to be smarter than you.

“He doesn’t know about the birds and bees.”

“Ah, well then.”

Whom to ask? My dad had died the year before. My mother? Unthinkable. But I had a sister, Lulu. Lulu was 15, and wise.

“Tell me about the birds and bees” I said.

“You’re too young,” Lulu said.

“How old do I have to be?”

She considered. “Twenty, maybe eighteen.”

“Do you know?”


“You’re only fifteen.”

“I’m a girl.”

She must have told my mother. Not long after, a thin book with a cherubic infant on the cover appeared in my room. It was called, A Baby Is Born, and it contained a horrible truth that I cannot bring myself to tell you.




I mention all this because Nick (who is nine now) and I had the talk recently. Rather, we had a talk. Nora and I knew something was up because the word sex had just entered Nick’s vocabulary, as in, “My teddy is on top of my bunny because they’re having sex.”

A couple we know is getting married and the subject of weddings came up.

“Tell me about marriage,” Nick said.

“What do you want to know?”

“They’ll be having sex now,” said Nick.

Nick, you may be aware, is not a guy to pussyfoot around.

“Exactly what is sex?” I said.

“He puts his penis in her vagina.”

That horrible truth again. Was there no end to it?

“Ah, well then,” I said.

Answer exactly what they ask I read somewhere. But I decided to be proactive and tiptoe into the part about the seeds and eggs. Otherwise, the thing makes no sense.

Not eggs, actually. Ova. We are not chickens.

I clarified things about whose seeds and ova, tricky in our house because of Nick’s adoption.

“Do you like sex?” he said.

A Baby is Born hadn’t covered this.

“Um, well, sort of.”


“Well, I guess, because, it feels good. If you love someone.”

“Why does it feel good?”

“Hmm …”

Evolution, I reasoned. Not for nothing am I a trained doctor.

“Well, suppose you were designing a new species, say, Burbies. You want to have enough Burbies.”


“So… you’d want mommy and daddy Burbies to want to have sex.”

A look of true interest.

“You’d make it feel good,” he said.


Finis. Exeunt.




But the whole experience took me back to being nine.

After reading A Baby is Born, I was unable to contain my shock. I made the mistake of spilling the beans to my cousin Robert, who lived up the block.

“You know what this means about Felicity and Ken?” said Robert.

Felicity was my older, older sister. She was married and had just had a baby. I could see where this was heading.

“Felicity and Ken must have–”

“Shut up!” I said. “Just shut up!”

Robert ran and told his mother. She told her husband, my uncle, who came looking for me. There was no getting away. It was like the movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

“Do you have any questions?” my uncle said.

I ran into the bathroom.

“No!” I shouted through the locked door.

“Wolfie, it’s important to talk about these things,” he said.

“You’re not getting my body!”


“I have to throw up. I’ll be here all day.”

It took a while, but eventually I got the thing handled.

Actually, it is sort of like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Maybe I’ll leave the DVD in Nick’s room.



This essay was originally posted at Aiming Low.

How much do you know about the world, dada? 



A Baby Is Born — The evidence. So you don’t think I made up the part about what goes where. I think better books have been written since.

. . .

IMAGE CREDIT: Bee-hind by WildLifeMargrit



Sex! Does it provoke a response? Inquiring minds want to know. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)


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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Sirena October 27, 2011 at 5:24 pm

I’m just sitting here laughing and laughing to myself – this was one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time. Luckily I’m alone so no one can see me. Your description of your discovery of the horrible truth behind “the birds and bees” is priceless. Nick, on the other hand, seems to have it mostly sorted out already and just needed clarification on the fine points which you handled expertly with the story of the Burbies. Gotta go continue to laugh to myself now…


Wolf Pascoe October 27, 2011 at 11:28 pm

It’s always gratifying to be the source of my readers’ amusement.


Jim Parkevich October 27, 2011 at 6:34 pm

OK ! ? All you anxiety filled adults, mixed-matched pairs wanting to howl at such antics..I, for one, respect the story..filled with secret mirth (adult) and the innocence of a child, wanting to know..ANYWAY !! How about some stories as to when the toddler walked into your bedroom, wanting the comfort of mommy and daddy, while mommy and daddy were comfortable doing ???? Ever been there and tried to explain yourself out of that ???


Wolf Pascoe October 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Daddy’s hurting mommy! Daddy’s hurting mommy!


Barbara S. October 27, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Oh, yikes, boy do I remember talking to my boys! I had to have a talk with my oldest when an “experienced” girl took an interest in him. She was sweet, but, um “experienced” (it’s a small town – we know these things.) I didn’t hold back about diseases, etc. (He was 14, so it was beyond the birds and bees) and he told me later it made him afraid to have sex for years. (YES!)


Wolf Pascoe October 27, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Talk about the risk of unintended consequences!


Charlie October 28, 2011 at 1:53 am

A real flair for humor, Wolf! Enjoyable read.


Wolf Pascoe October 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Thanks, Charlie. You learn all sorts of things here.


Kristen @ Motherese October 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm

I remember sitting next to Sarah R. in fifth grade at our Catholic grade school. She threw up all over herself and our desk when Miss K. first told us about that horrible truth you mention.

It’s heavy stuff.


Wolf Pascoe October 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I don’t know about Catholic school, but if my Hebrew school teacher had told me, I’d have thrown up too.


Privilege of Parenting October 28, 2011 at 11:38 pm

Even educated fleas do it. Let’s do it, let’s all throw up.


Wolf Pascoe October 28, 2011 at 11:55 pm

I feel this blog has found its true level.


BigLittleWolf October 29, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Oh, what a delightful post!

Speaking of bees, did you ever see the B movie with the Bee women who seduce their men and then kill them? (So campy, like the original Body Snatchers.) Hmmm… now that would’ve really scared the Bee-Jeezus out of you.

So Nick will be spreading the buzz to all his buds?

Oh Lucky, Lucky You.

Incidentally, my firstborn watched a Nova episode on PBS when he was 2. That was that. But how to explain the placenta to a two-year old?


Wolf Pascoe October 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I think the news is already all over the schoolyard.
Forget the Nova episode. I’m going to show the Bee woman movie to Nick.


Alameda October 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm

Why make this such a taboo, so mysterious. It is a natural phenomenon that all discover, somehow!


Wolf Pascoe October 29, 2011 at 9:34 pm

I knew a man who had five kids. He said as soon as he and his wife discovered what was causing it they stopped.


ChopperPapa November 1, 2011 at 7:31 am

I’ve been fortunate not to have to worry with that yet. But I’m convinced that the discussion of sex with our children is more than a ‘talk’ it’s a long drawn out conversation over a period of time that doesn’t end until I’n convinced that they get it


Wolf Pascoe November 1, 2011 at 8:02 am

I was actually sort of stunned we covered so much ground in that first talk. It’s come up only obliquely since. Meanwhile, I practice listening.


pamela November 3, 2011 at 10:23 am

Hilarious. I too received A Baby is Born. Something about that book just gave me the creeps – then and now. The line up of all the ages. Ick.

What a great little boy you have. And can I borrow you when it’s time to teach my own sons about the birds and the bees? I’ll pay big.


Wolf Pascoe November 3, 2011 at 11:15 am

Nick says he’s ready and willing, seeing as how you mentioned paying big.


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