Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ah, the Miracle of Life

I was going to write a more serious post tonight. Really, I was. I still owe my readership Part II of my post about Bristol Palin. And there's always the usual doom and gloom to write about, if we really want to.

But today, I thought I'd write about something more uplifting. That is, about the Miracle of Life, as seen through the eyes of a six-year-old who's just covered the topic in her science lessons, and who is now excitedly telling Daddy all about the wonderful things she learned today.

You see, one of the topics we're covering this year is the anatomy of the human body. And, yup--we've gotten to the section on reproduction. My wife and I have taken the view in our homeschool that leaving out big swathes of your subject matter on account of the fact that it's icky does the student few favors. Fact is, they know when you're leaving out the naughty bits (because they read through the book on their own last week!) and the fact that you're skipping it just makes it that much more exotic, that much more enticing. Besides, many of these topics don't seem quite so icky to them as they do to us.

And Tonya is a pretty left-brained, practical person. Her attitude is a "this is the way it is" bluntness, and so the idea that we should skip this stuff to preserve our little one's wee delicate sensibilities seems just wimpy to her.

So Tonya went ahead and started teaching the Pillowfight Fairy all about the anatomy that is involved in reproduction. Now, this is not The Talk that Tonya was giving her; that will come later, and that will truly be icky. No, this was science she was teaching; it was anatomy.

And the Fairy was absolutely fascinated by it.


So when I came home from work the Fairy was still rather excited by her new-found knowledge, and she proceeded to tell me over tonight's meatloaf all about where babies come from.

"It all starts with the eyes," she said.

Eyes? I wondered. I started thinking about how across the crowded dance floor, he looked up and saw her, and for a long moment their eyes locked together; she felt something move in her breast that she had thought would never move again; and as her cheeks flushed, the motion of the dance drew them ever closer, closer...

"Good heavens," I thought, "what has Tonya been teaching that girl?"

But no: "Some people have blue genes, some have green genes, and some have brown genes. You get one from your mother and one from your father, and they set the color of each eye."

Well, that's pretty close, although she made it sound as though you get your right eye from your Mom and your left eye from your Dad. And given that Tonya's eyes are in fact different colors (look really closely at the picture of Tonya in the chainmail post below and you'll see), I suppose this wasn't such an odd thing for the Fairy to say.

She went on to explain to us about the ovum and the sperm, and how the former has an X and the latter has either an X or a Y, and if you get two X's you're a girl, and if you get an X and a Y you're a boy. Pretty good, I thought.

And so then she started to describe how "there's this big race, you see, as all the sperm are rushing really fast to get to the egg first. And the winner gets to fertilize the egg! And all the sperm that lose, die."

The Fairy is big into competitions now. Everything has to be a competition. "I'm the first girl to brush my teeth! I ate more waffles than my sister! I'm the only one wearing purple!" So the fact that there's this big race between the sperm sounded really exciting to her, and the fact that all the losing sperm end up like those Roman gladiators she's also learning about is just really nifty.

"And then the ovums start splitting, always into an even number of cells. And then they turn into embryos, and start growing and growing until they're ready to come out."

Well, as described, that'll get you identical octuplets. But she's close enough, so we'll let it slide.

"And then it grows, and grows, and when it's ready, it slides down the Virginia, and pushes through the Gluteus Maximus, and it's a baby!"

At this point, Tonya and I simultaneously choked and spewed. I choked, she spewed.

Where babies come from?

So, we slowly regained our composure, and corrected her pronunciation (no doubt to the great relief of any readers I may have from the Old Dominion), and explained to her that--although we are very happy that she has remembered the names of the various muscle groups in our bodies--in fact, babies do not come out of our butts. Oh, and when you're eating dinner, it's better to use some of those Orwellian euphemisms I talked about a few weeks back. "Birth canal" spoken at the dinner table is rather less likely to cause people to drop their forks than a suddenly spoken "Virginia".

Especially by a six-year-old.


But all that isn't the best of it.

She decided to illustrate the whole process.

And not only that, she decided to give it a story line, with all the various characters acting pretty darn snarky, if you ask me.

When was the last time you ever read a comic strip with an antropomorphized sperm and ovum mouthing off to each other, before getting in a race to see who can be the first to make it out the "Virginia"? And when you did last read something like that, what were the odds it had been written by a six-year-old (as opposed to some college student who thought he was being edgy)?

So without further ado, I present you with, um... I suppose it's the Miracle of Life...

First, here are the full sheets she drew and colored. If you have trouble reading them, I broke them out into panels below.

And here it is broken out into panels. I hope you enjoy....

And there we have the joy of childbirth right at the end. I think those last two are actually supposed to be siblings, but I'm not sure.


Oh, and by the way: you remember how in an earlier post, I had told my daughter the Parable of the Lost Caper ("Which of you, upon losing his caper, would not climb under the table to try to find it...")? And then, how the Fairy had stormed up to me full of righteous wrath after that Sunday night's class, to accuse me of leading her astray? ("It's coins, not capers!") Well, my daughter is apparently like this a lot. After having read all about where babies come from today, she passed this withering judgment at the dinner table: "Calvin's dad lied."

Sigh. If you can't trust Calvin's dad, you can't trust anybody, can you?


B. Durbin said...

"Yuck." "Awww." "Yuck." "Yuck."


(Incidentally, my verification Word of the Day is "luckfu." That actually sounds like a funky martial art, perhaps as wielded by Sky Masterson. "I will attack you with my Luck-Fu!I bet you don't know what color tie you're wearing!"" "No!")

Timothy Power said...

Luck-fu. I like it. Someone gets in your face in a dark alley sometime, and suddenly--without warning--an anvil drops on his head. It takes some serious luck-fu to pull that one off, but with enough luck-fu, you can get out of any scrape.