Many parents are uncomfortable with the concept of talking about sex with their kids and some choose to make up alternate stories about where babies come from instead of providing factual information.
It’s Not the Stork!: A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends is the first of three books by Robie Harris that are written to help kids learn about sexual health kids in an age-appropriate way. This book is for kids age four and up, The second book It’s So Amazing is written for kids seven and up and the third book, It’s Perfectly Normal is written for kids approaching and going through puberty.
Each page is a combination of illustrations, text and comic strips featuring a cartoon bird and bee who act as guides through the book. Often they give voice to feelings kids reading or listening to the book may be having. They also bring up and address common myths and misinformation around the topic of sexual health.
This particular book helps parents to answer the question of where babies come from. It starts with comparisons to families of animals like you would see at the zoo or in a park.
The book includes illustrations of boys and girls bodies with labels for all their respective body parts. It covers more than just reproductive organs, but names them just the same as other body parts. There is an illustration of a sperm race to the egg – one of my daughters’ favourite sections primarily because some of the sperm are talking to each other about how they are going to win the race. There are also actual size drawings of a fetus at various stages of development
While we as adults may be uncomfortable talking with our kids about how babies are made and sexual health, our kids have no such hang ups. They are just curious and looking for information. This book and the others in the series present the facts in an accessible way. There were sections that I was admittedly cautious about reading, but then decided to just read through. At the end of each section, which is typically two pages long, I asked my daughters if they had any questions and provided any additional information or context that I wanted them to know.
I believe that it is the role of educators to provide facts and parents to teach values. With these books I can play both roles and provide the facts framed through our values lens to ensure that my kids have the information they need and want about their own bodies.
My two year old is a park fanatic. On most days she asks several times a day if we can go to the park. This is matched only by the number of times a day she asks if she can watch something on the iPad. She has been particularly park obsessed for the past week since her older sisters have been away handing out with my mum at Nanny Camp. Those two are so busy they only call periodically to say good night. The other day I was off work for the day and my partner was at work so I decided my daughter and I would have a play day with daddy. I thought she might be up for a day of park-hopping.
The Wading Pool
Our first stop was to meet some friends at a nearby park with a wading pool. Unfortunately the pool wasn't open yet and there were loads of day-camp kids playing on the playstructure. My daughter was a little overwhelmed by all the kids swarming the structure so she held back and watched. We found an alternate activity and made use of the empty pool. There was no one else in it and she had a blast running back and forth in her own space.
Fortunately the camp kids cleared off the playstructure for a while and we were able to do some bar-hopping. The first one she tried was too low and she is now too tall for it. The second one was just right. She takes after her sister (and not her father) in the upper body strength department and loves swinging on the bars. This one was the perfect height for her.
After the pool running and bar-swinging it was time to move on to another park. We moved on to the park that is her current favourite. She calls it the piano park - or more accurately 'planano' park. It has a xylophone-like play station, which she barely ever uses. I think the thing she likes the most about this park is the sheer number of climbing opportunities.
She showed off her skills by climbing up this climbing wall, which I had not seen her do before. She was very fast climbing up and would then run down the stairs and back up the climbing wall.
Crossing the Bridge
I think she may have enjoyed running across this bridge almost as much as she liked climbing. Every time she climber up, she'd race across the bridge and down the stairs.
Climbing the Pole
When I was a kid, most playgrounds had fire poles that we could use to close down. It is a rare playground with a fire pole these days. Based on my own experiences of falling off the poles and landing at the bottom unconscious, maybe it isn't such a bad thing that they are gone. Many have been replaced with these pole ladders. My daughter wanted help climbing up. The first time she went up I stood behind her to offer climbing tips. Now she is unstoppable.
Recharging Our Batteries
any good play day requires occasional pauses to replenish our energy. On this particular leg of the journey we went with Goldfish. We finished off the container and biked home for lunch before moving on to our third stop for the day.
After lunch we went to the park that is practically behind our house. As per usual my daughter heading straight for the bouncy motorcycle. I think she was worn out from our morning adventures because after a brief ride on the motorcycle and a short stint on the swings she decided she was done with all the equipment.
Then we went exploring in the park. Sadly we have recently lost nine of the twelve big poplar trees in our park. They had mostly or completely died off so the city has been in the park for the past month cutting them down. So we explored the new stumps around the perimeter of the park. We compared them, jumped on and off of them and pretended to be trees. They might not be trees anymore, but at least they are still part of our park experience.
I was sure that three parks in one day would wear my daughter out and that for the next day at least there would be no requests for a trip to the park. I was wrong. She has asked every day since.
It was a challenge for me to remain in the moment and focus on just having a good time with her instead of thinking about all of the other things I could be doing. We had a great time and will probably fit a few more park-hopping days into the rest of the summer. Next time we might even take one or two of her sisters.
It was arts and crafts time in kindergarten and – as all good children do – we were sitting around our table, eating paste and cutting paper to eat later. At that particular point, I had a thought – perhaps inspired by the paste, perhaps evidence of my burgeoning creativity. In this moment, I was inspired, the muses of art and beauty struck. I decided that I was going to create the greatest art the world had ever seen. I decided to cut my own hair. Continue reading →
I recently read that every time a baby is born, a dad is born. I don’t quite agree with that. A father is born, but a dad has to grow into the role. When I was a kid, my dad had a figure in his office and the base of the figure was inscribed with “Any man can be a father. It takes a special man to be a dad.” At least it was something like that. I carry that with me in my head when I think about my role as your dad. I try to think of ‘dad’ as a title that I have to earn. Most days I think I do ok – at least with one of you. Other days I am surprised that you three don’t gang up and fire me. Continue reading →
“Back in the day, with the old school Marlboro Man-era rules of masculinity, men did not partake in “sissy” stuff. For a dad to be a man, he brought home the paycheque, was sturdy in crisis, and gave ’em hell when times got tough.
In many ways kids are like invasive species – especially given their ability to destroy habitats. In spite of their similarities it is important to educate kids (and adults) about invasive species and how to prevent their spread.