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Julia Sweeney has "The Talk" February 1, 2010

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Julia Sweeney tells the story of when her eight year old daughter started asking about reproduction.


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I have a daughter, Mulan. And when she was eight, last year, she was doing a report for school, or she had some homework about frogs. And we were at this restaurant. And she said, "So, basically, frogs lay eggs and the eggs turn into tadpoles, and tadpoles turn into frogs."

And I said, "Yeah. You know, I'm not really up on my frog reproduction that much. It's the females, I think, that lay the eggs. And then the males fertilize them. And then they become tadpoles and frogs."

And she says, "What? Only the females have eggs?"

And I said, "Yeah."

And she goes, "And what's this fertilizing?"

So I kind of said, "Oh, it's this extra ingredient, you know, that you need to create a new frog from the mom and dad frog."

And she said, "Oh, so is that true for humans too?"

And I thought, "Okay, here we go." I didn't know it would happen so quick, at eight. I was trying to remember all the guidebooks, and all I could remember was, "Only answer the question they're asking. Don't give any more information." So I said, "Yes."

And she said, "And where do, where do human women, where do women lay their eggs?"

And I said, "Well, funny you should ask. We have evolved to have our own pond. We have our very own pond inside our bodies. And we lay our eggs there. We don't have to worry about other eggs or anything like that. It's our own pond. And that's how it happens."

And she goes, "Then how do they get fertilized?"

And I said, "Well, Men, through their penis, they fertilize the eggs by the sperm coming out. And you go through the woman's vagina."

And so we're just eating, and her jaw just drops, and she goes, "Mom! Like where you go to the bathroom?"

And I said, "I know. I know." (Laughter) That's how we evolved. It does seem odd. It is a little bit like having a waste treatment plant right next to an amusement park. Bad zoning. But ...

She's like, "What?" And she goes, "But Mom, but men and women can't ever see each other naked, Mom. So how could that ever happen?"

And then I put my Margaret Mead hat on. "Human males and females develop a special bond, and when they're much older, much, much older than you, and they have a very special feeling, then they can be naked together."

And she said, "Mom, have you done this before?"

And I said, "Yes."

And she said, "But Mom, you can't have kids." Because she knows that I adopted her and that I can't have kids.

And I said, "Yes."

And she said, "Well, you don't have to do that again."

And then I said, "..."

And then she said, "But how does it happen when a man and woman are together? Like, how do they know that's the time? Mom, does the man just say, 'Is now the time to take off my pants?'" (Laughter)

And I said, "Yes." (Laughter) "That is exactly right. That's exactly how it happens."

So then we're driving home, and she's looking out the window, and she goes, "Mom, what if two people just saw each other on the street, like a man and a woman, and they just started doing it. Would that ever happen?"

And I said, "Oh, no. Humans are so private. Oh no."

And then she goes, "What if there was like a party. And there was just like a whole bunch of girls and a whole bunch of boys. And there was a bunch of men and women and they just started doing it, Mom? Would that ever happen?"

And I said, "Oh, no, no. That's not how we do it."

Then we got home and we see the cat. And she goes, "Mom, how do cats do it?"

And I go, "Oh, it's the same. It's basically the same."

And then she got all caught up in the legs. "But how would the legs go, Mom. I don't understand the legs." She goes, "Mom, everyone can't do the splits."

And I go, "I know, but the legs ..." I'm like, "The legs get worked out."

And she goes, "But I just can't understand it."

So I go, "You know, why do we go on the Internet, and maybe we can see ..." like on Wikipedia.

So we go online, and we put in cats mating. And, unfortunately, on Youtube, there's many cats mating videos. And we watched them, and I'm so thankful, because she's just like, "Wow! This is so amazing." She goes, "What about dogs?" So we put in dogs mating, and, you know, we're watching it, and she's totally absorbed.

And then she goes, "Mom, do you think they would have on the Internet, any humans mating?" (Laughter) And then I realized that I had taken my little eight year-old's hand, and taken her right into Internet porn.

And I looked into this trusting, loving face, and I said, "Oh, no. That would never happen."

Thank you.


Thank you.


Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.

Courtesy of TED

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