Monday, April 25, 2011

Birds and the Bees

If you're friends with Joe on Facebook, this will seem redundant, but for those who are not, his last status update recounted a recent event including Anna, her "town cousin," and a bull. After our family Easter egg hunt, Anna's little blond cousin ran up to the fence line where "Pappy" had a bull and a few cows near the edge of the yard. She innocently poked her hand through the fence and said, "Hi, cow!" Anna, who had run up with her, without skipping a beat, corrected the citified cousin stating, "That's not a COW, it's a BULL. Look at his {rhymes with falls}!"

Oh boy.

Joe's 86 year old grandfather, who heard the correction nearly died of laughter. Joe was so proud. I was MORTIFIED.


However, it got me to think, why shouldn't she correct something that's obviously incorrect in an absolutely blunt and truthful way? I have read a lot of debate and been a part of discussions recently about not lying to our kids. While it is probably not the most appropriate thing for us to equate certain events that are leading to the birth of our son with what the bull is now doing to the heifers in heat (cow porn is happening across the's very lovely, let me tell you.), isn't it okay to explain to Anna, in language and verbage that is appropriate to her about essentially the birds and the bees when it comes to the cattle in which she feels somewhat responsible for?

I'm not telling you to run out and teach your kids about reproduction using beef cattle, but when it comes time for our "talk," I feel like Anna will have at least a basis of science that will help her understand at least the mechanics of it all.

At least, that is what I'm telling myself. However, the first phone call I get from a parent from the kindergarten class that is complaining about Anna's bluntness, I might have to pull the plug on this scientific sex ed!


  1. Well, it is what it is, and I guess the big question is at what age do you give them the right, correct terminology to use because that is when they will share this new knowledge with others. I think on the farm, we go with sooner than later because it is a daily encounter. Others off the farm, however, might not be ready for such words. Oh the hazards of country living! ;-)

  2. PC has never been the strong suite of rural America. That may very well be why we are so proud. Some day you may indeed have to pull in the raines on Anna.It will not be for her sake but for the sake of others. In the mean time she gets a big "atta girl".

  3. As the author of a middle grade book about beef cattle, I've pondered this question, dodged a few similar ones during school visits to both rural and city schools. Since my book is about a steer, when I get to the Q & A part of my presentation, the most direct question I usually have to handle is "What's the difference between a bull and a steer?" I usually fumble with a semi-scientific answer that includes the word "castrate." This is always good for snickers from middle schoolers, but I usually take my cues from the teachers. If they're turning pale, I know it's time to stop. It's always great when there's a young cattleman or woman in the crowd who, like Anna, can set his/her peers straight! So, I say, farm moms and dads, keep equipping your kids with the knowledge to speak confidently about the, um, more delicate facts of farm life.

  4. Hello hello,

    My dear friend Lana mentioned your blog and so i decided to hop over! It looks great!

    hope to see you lots

  5. Ha! I laughed at this one Emily:) Honestly, I'd rather be the one to teach them those things than the kids on the school bus! That way it is just facts and not a lot of garbage. Thanks for the laugh today!

  6. I think farm kids are in a really unique situation where they get to see the "birds and bees" first hand, and learn about it in a little different way than most non-farm kids. The facts of life are what they are, and sugar coating with funny nicknames doesn't change things! I don't have any kids myself, so I know my opinion doesn't really count yet, but I say way to go!! :)