Last Christmas, my mom-in-law gave my girls tiny little toy horses. My girls love horses in any shape or size, so it was a great gift. Though "toy horses" may not be exactly accurate. They were actually collectible miniatures, but nothing is too good for her grand-daughters, so they were presented as a set to be roughly played with as only young children can.
What is the difference, you ask, between toy horses and collectible miniatures?
That's right. These tiny toy horses were anatomically correct. I did not notice this at first. It took a few days of play before the girls started giggling and brought me a tiny stallion saying, "Mama! This horse has poo-poo stuck to his bottom!"
In general, we believe once the kids are old enough to ask a question, they are old enough for some kind of honest answer. So I explained to the girls the differences between male and female.
They did not believe me.
But there the horses were anyway, and clearly there was something odd about that little stallion, so eventually they accepted my story. And they began to repeat it. Not in any embarrassing public way - I know that's where your mind leaped, kids being what they are. But it was hard to keep a straight face when, three days later, my four-year-old explained that the process of making babies involved a strange male apparatus called a "peanut-tentacles." She was pretty sure it only existed on horses.
That was months ago, and I thought we had reached a comfortable place of vague familiarity with the subject. Then one day the girls brought me another one of their toy horses, wanting me to explain whether it was male or female. They still get a little confused. So I turned the toy over.
It was a gelding.
If they are old enough to ask a question, they are old enough to get some kind of answer. So I answered. And their eyes widened in amazement.
I don't know if this will come back to haunt us in public or not. But an hour after my explanation, my four year old came cantering up to me, neighing and whinnying, and announced, "I am a horse! My testicles are cut off!"
Parenthood is always an adventure.