The birds and the bees are tales for boobies | Daily News

The birds and the bees are tales for boobies

The phrase ‘the birds and the bees’ is a metaphor for explaining the mechanics of reproduction to younger children. It relies on imagery of bees pollinating and eggs hatching to substitute for a more technical explanation of, well to be diplomatically explicit, explaining the propagation of the species.

In old fashioned times, which appears to be the era even at present, people were embarrassed to discuss the procreation process let alone tell children. So they used Mother Nature as a metaphor to portray it as a natural phenomenon and not a crime punishable by eternal damnation.

It is a way of deflecting the inevitable question that every parent dreads: "Where do babies come from?" Besides, it is an alternative to the explanation that the stork delivers infants. Blaming their natural instincts and desires on the stork is the easiest way out of a tight predicament for parents. And it also exonerates them from confessing that they indulged in the process of ‘hibbly-jibbly.’

The connection between human sexuality and eggs and pollination is vague, which can cause some confusion among curious children who are mostly also, in my estimation, darned too precocious to boot. As a parent, we would do anything to protect our children. Indeed many of us, would wrap them up in bubble-wrap if we could. However unless you are a ‘boo-bee’ – sorry booby – you will realise that awareness about sex however can occur a lot younger than we think. Children are becoming more aware of things on TV.

As our little progeny are growing up, we must recognise that we can’t keep sheltering them from the big bad world. No, we simply can’t keep cocooning them in cotton wool either. As hard as it is, both Momma and Poppa bird must let loose their fledglings out from under their protective wing and allow them to explore the real world.

And let’s face it. We do need something warm and loving to tell kids at approximately seven years of age. The hard truth that children are the high price adults pay for having unprotected sex is just too much for them to process at that tender age.

The allegorical story of the birds and the bees has been handed down from generation to generation from time immemorial. I wonder whether it was the first parent to improvise an analogy of insects and feathered friends to soften the story of human sexuality. It must have been Adam in the Garden of Eden. I mean any guy who discarded his fig leaf must have known the consequences that would follow.

There are likely millions of versions of the birds and bees talk in every language known to man and they all serve one purpose — delaying the inevitable. My parents were no exception to the norm. They always told me: "I'll tell you when you're older". They never did. But being a precocious brat I could never figure out why birds would be mating with bees. Well, nobody told me a thing, but I did grow up in 1950s Sri Lanka. Parental wisdom then and now was that the less you knew about sex, the longer childhood could be preserved. Besides I used to follow the buzzing bees around our herbaceous gardens and observed that the Gentleman Bee followed the Queen of his heart all the time and was not interested in chasing birds or Ladybugs of indeterminate gender to make babies. Turns out, at least for honeybees, sex is an acrobatic, open-air event. Once mating is complete, the drone falls to the ground and dies in minutes to hours. My friend Surchepps regaled us with a tale of how he fielded the tricky question from his seven-year-old son, pet-named Pancho. He answered the loaded query with brilliant yet ambiguously witty honesty. “Well it goes like this, if a bird and a bee love each other very much. The bee likes to sting the bird with his stinger!” But the gifted little bounder had obviously been taking an assiduous interest in his biology class was not easily fobbed off with his old boy’s explanation. Pancho: “But I thought the bees lose their lives when they sting.” Surchepp’s: “Oh they do son, they do. That’s why bees should remember to use protection!”

As much as we like to think we are our children’s best teachers, it’s the time they spend with friends that provide them with the most education in this ‘unmentionable’ sphere.

Some time ago my spinster aunt Rhonda was reading to my niece and nephew in the garden. As the three of them were enjoying the outdoors little Lynette pointing to a tree says: “Oh look at those two birds over there, Aunty Rhonda.” They were clearly mating. Smart woman that she is, Rhonda said nothing. Gripping the book she was reading a little tighter, she was about to point out that the birds were in fact warblers and that they were fighting. Friendly fighting, that is.

But before she could break the awkward silence, Lynette did. “And the one on the top,” said the eight-year-old, “is giving the one on the bottom CPR.”

Apparently at her grade school, life-saving skills are taught before sex education. She heard her nephew Michael repeat in a high, sceptical voice: “CPR?”

“Yes,” said Lynette, “CPR is an emergency procedure for a person whose heart has stopped or is no longer breathing. That’s why he’s just peck, peck, pecking away.” Attempting to steer the discussion away from the two flapping birds, Rhonda asked Michael when his next martial arts class was. He didn’t answer. We think he was too busy trying to figure out how warblers learned CPR. And for the record, that’s what Colombo kids in our family call it — CPR!.

Another case in point when a former neighbour’s eight-year-old elder son named Bunty, spent time at an outdoor camping stint where the counsellors teach them swimming, climbing and survival methods. Their charges learn to survive their own rowdy games such as scratching, punching and singing bawdy songs. Back at home Bunty initiates his five-year-old kid brother Guy in to the rude songs. Not satisfied with his efforts he inveigles his sibling into playing a naughty word play game.

Hey, Guy,” he whispers to him with a sly smile, “say ‘X’ really fast, over and over.” Guy, pleased to be enlisted in his brother’s game, says: “X X X X X X X.” Bunty giggles uncontrollably. “You said, ‘Sex sex sex sex sex sex sex!”


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