Jan 302013


*originally posted a million years ago

Once when Chase was three, he was looking through my wedding album and said “Mommy, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but you look kind of BIGGER in these pictures. Like… not skinny.”

I cleared my throat and said. “Oh, right honey. Well there is a lot of food at weddings. I was REALLY FULL. And also, in case you’re wondering, grandpa was holding that shotgun because the ceremony was deep in bear country.”

Chase bought my fertilization fables for several years. But since he was five when I got pregnant with Amanda, his baby questions started to get more specific. “Mommy, how did she GET IN THERE? How is she going to GET OUT?” At first, I held tight to my routine of lies and distraction. “Oh, honey only doctors know the answers to those questions! And I didn’t go to medical school. Sorry. LOOK, AN EAGLE!!!”

But he wouldn’t let it go, and I thought maybe it was time for some professional help. So we bought a children’s book about what happens to a woman’s body during pregnancy. In the section about labor, the book discussed how the baby travels through the birth canal and then out through the vagina, which it described and illustrated as a “tunnel.”

This book was a really fun bedtime read for my husband. My favorite pastime became watching Craig try to read that book to Chase without skipping the words vagina, sperm, and ovum. Every night when Chase was choosing his bedtime story I’d yell up the stairs…”HEY GUYS, HOW ABOUT THE BABY BOOK?” And Craig would silently curse me while I giggled and felt a bit better about my heartburn and swollen ankles.

One afternoon, late in my pregnancy, I was in my family room with two moms I’d just met from Chase’s preschool. All the kids were downstairs playing with Chase and Tish’s new playhouse, which had a big tent and passageways to crawl through. Just as I began preparing a delicious snack of God knows what, we heard Chase scream,


My new friends and I froze and stared at each other for a moment. I decided immediately that this little problem was okay, really. I had a lot of friends. I didn’t NEED these two ladies.

And then I politely excused myself to check on the children.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I saw Chase squatting and lunging into his new play tunnel, or birth canal if you will, trying to pull Tish out by her head while she kicked and screamed. I calmly suggested he use some forceps.

And since I don’t have a walk-out basement from which to escape, I had no other choice but to hike back upstairs and try to explain myself and my child. I don’t remember much about the excuse I offered, but I can’t imagine it went smoothly. Which is to say, that there haven’t been any more playdates with those particular ladies or their traumatized children.

And so it goes.



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  88 Responses to “Tunnel Of Love”

  1. Loved this post and laughed — I have three children and the oldest one, after a discussion about how babies are made, looked at me with a small amount of amazement on his face and said “Daddy put his penis in you three times???”

  2. I love the sprinkling of levity between the deeper posts :)

  3. My daughter at three played soccer (that’s being very generous) with all boys… Well at that stage in potty training…. The boys would all run to ‘THE tree’ and my daughter would keep asking when she was going to grow a hose so she could water the tree too….

  4. Convo with my now-adult daughter, when she was almost 3 and sitting on her little potty, being potty-trained:
    She: Mom? I have this hole in the front where the pee-pee comes out.
    Me: (thinking, “oh, goodie; time for this!”) Yes.
    She: And I have this hole in the back where the poo-poo comes out.
    Me. Yes.
    She: And I have this hole in the middle. What’s that?
    Me: That’s your vagina. And all women and girls have one?
    She: My ber-jiii-ner?
    Me: Yes.
    She: And you have one?
    Me: Yes.
    She: And Miss Karen (her teacher) and Alyssa (a little friend)?
    Me: Yes.
    She: And Grandma (my mom — VERY strait-laced)?
    Me: Yes, but we don’t need to discuss it with her.
    She: OK, Mom.

  5. Best story ever!!! :)

  6. My son called all tails penises for the longest time. The best part of this is that he only had about 15 words in his vocabulary too. I about died when we were playing with friends and he picked up the little people pig and said penis because it had a tail. How do you explain that your child knows the word penis but not pig? I guess penis was more important to him (probably still is).

  7. My girls started asking lots of questions. So I read them the book called “The Science of Boys and Girls”. All about girl parts,boy parts, how babies are made, and how they ‘get out’;) My 7yr old asks all these seriously science questions. My 5 year old daughter leans back, thrust her chin up ” WHY can’t the boys have the babies?!?!?” I laughed…good question I said. But boys are whims, and there would be no babies!haha! LOVE the tunnel… Would too have been instantly your friend! Love you G

  8. Holy balls, G….THAT’S hilarious!! Seriously, I am laughing so hard my abs (or lack there of 😉 are hurting!


  9. OHMYGOSH right after I posted my previous comment, that same son came walking into the room INSIDE ONE OF THOSE TUNNELS! I just love the way the universe is so in sync and God sends us humor when we need it. Hilarious. And he hasn’t played with that thing in who knows how long.

  10. I am not just saying this. I’m rofl

  11. Fabulous! Quick story – I got the call that my 6-year-old was talking with his kindergarten classmates on the playground, explaining how a baby was made (which he learned from his older brother). They told me who was in the crew, I took a deep breath, and called the parents to apologize for whatever part might be offensive to them. Because we live in Cambridge, MA, the most frequent response was, “Was he factually correct?”

    • Only in the Rebublic of Cambridge!

    • You’d have gotten the same response in our local Republic of Berkeley (CA).

      • This cracked me up.. and reminded me of many, many years ago when I took my son’s cub scout den to a soup kitchen. In the middle of lunch a homeless woman picked up a chair, started swearing at a homeless man and hit him with the chair. I called all the parents the next day to apologize for their kids witnessing the language and the angry confrontation. Turns out the only 2 kids that were upset by it were my son (I was a single parent) and the other kid in the troop who lived with his single parent mom. When I talked to the last mother on my list, I mentioned that it’s odd that it only upset the 2 kids who were from single parent homes. The mother replied, “That’s because the kids from 2 parent homes see something similar every night at dinner” and hung up the phone.

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  13. When my daughter was 7 she wasn’t letting me dance around the subject anymore, and I came to the part of saying that the daddy has to do something special with his penis and she immediately interrupted to say, “So did Daddy pee on you?” Speechless.

  14. […] one made me lol! The Tunnel of Love by Glennon Melton at […]

  15. Just found you via The Revelation Project and boy am I glad! Absolutely love your voice!

  16. This made me laugh so hard and drag my now 14 year old son over to read it too. When he was in first grade, he came to tattle on his little sister. The conversation went something like this…
    “Mom, Zoe is playing with her penis again.”
    As I got up to go track down her and the apparently missing diaper, I reminded him, “she doesn’t actually have a penis.”
    He thought about it for a minute, following me down the hall. “Oh yeah, she has a china right?”
    Figuring I didn’t really need to correct his mispronunciation, after all, he was only six, and it wasn’t like he was going to have a test the next day I said, “Close enough.”
    The next day, he came home from school all excited.
    “Hey mom! Guess what! There is a girl in my class and she is from China!”
    My first thought after the spit take was, well technically I suppose most babies come into this world via China…

  17. Oh my goodness hahahahaha! I saw melodyjoy1983 post about how your post was so funny and I knew I had to check it out! What a sweet little dear but oh you might have your hands full. LOL! I’ll be back to visit your space for SURE!

  18. this has always been one of my favorites! I loved reading it again.

  19. My first time on your blog, but not the last! Lil man is only 18 months; looking forward to similar experiences in the not-so-distant future.

  20. So funny! I have had that happen before where you are talking to some parents and you hear your kids say something and think, “Oh no! Did they hear that?!”

  21. So. Flipping. Funny. I *may* have even snorted!

  22. A friend of mine’s son (age4) asked her where babies come from. Not being prepared, she stumbled over a version of ” we’ll, when a man and woman love each other…” About 5 minutes in, he stopped her and said, “Mom, do they start in heaven or what?” Yes, yes they do. Lesson learned.

  23. HA! I love these stories.

    Last Saturday, as my two year old son and I were about to enter his “gym” class, amongst a throng of snobby moms, he loudly remarked out of nowhere, “Mama, you don’t have a penis!” Talk about a non sequitur! Yes, you are correct. I do not.

    I was actually torn between embarrassment and pride at his complex sentence, complete with correct grammar! But I stopped short of explaining what I DO have (I don’t want him getting the impression that women are somehow LACKING, afterall) and decided to table that for another time…

  24. When my daughter was four, we knew a couple who were living together and pregnant, but not legally married. Common-law couples are very ‘common’ here. My daughter asked who the mom was marrying since she was having a baby. I kept on saying that she was living with the dad and not marrying anyone. My daughter said that you had to be married to have a baby, to which I replied,
    Me: “No, sometimes when two people live together and love each other, they can have a baby.”
    Daughter: ” Mom, we live together and we love each other, it’s not working.”

  25. Ohmygarsh. Not sure I read this one before! This was hilarious. Thanks for the laugh today! I needed it. I cannot look at those tunnel things ever again without thinking of what Chase said. Classic.

  26. My kids know the proper names of their parts, but my youngest daughter who was around 5 at the time would call her vagina her china. One day after a trip to mc donald’s she asked, “Mom, what does the bottom of my toy say?” I respond with made in China. She gets a horrified look on her face, and with utter disgust says, “IT WAS MADE IN CHINA??!!!???” I said a calm, “Yes” then she pointed down to herself and said, “You mean china, like my china?” and I laughed and told her no honey, not your vagina, China, the country. There is a country named CHina.” one of our favorite family stories.

  27. Hilarious, I totally would have laughed and stuck around as well!
    …I had my first embarrassing mommy moment a couple months ago at my 2 year old’s mommy and me swim class. We were in the locker room getting ready to go to the pool and some of the elderly women who do water aerobics right before our class were very naked and proceeding to get dressed. My back was turned to them, but my daughter in the stroller facing one of the women full on said “Wook mommy, boobies! Big ones! How come your don’t have big ones yike dat!”

    • And more recently when I told her we were having lasagna for dinner she started crying “I don’t want to eat girl parts”. I guess when I said “lasagna” she heard vagina!

  28. Haha! I had a friend who bought a nice book explaining sex on a couple’s wedding night from a Christian bookstore for her husband to read with their 9 year old son who was asking questions. She hid around the corner while they read it together and all of a sudden her son started shouting indignantly, “you put your penis in mom’s vagina?!?! Really? You put your penis in mom’s vagina!”

    Later he came to her while she was making dinner and asked, “mom, did you really let dad put his penis in your vagina?” The kid was just incredulous. And his parents hope that one day he has a kid just like him.

  29. Hilarious!!

    My friend tells the story of when her much younger brother was about three. The entire family was on vacation and getting ready to go out for dinner. The mom was taking a nice bath at the hotel, when her younger brother inquired loudly, “Is Vagina coming too?”

    I don’t know why these things are so funny, but they are.

  30. Our third daughter was 2.5 when her sister was born. She spent the weekend at my parents’ home after Kathryn was born and was able to be with her cousins as well. Being from a house of girls, she had no memories of bathing with boys and had a lot of questions regarding their parts. My sister answered her questions honestly.

    Hannah showered with me shortly after her trip to her grandparents’. She kept telling me, “Mom, you have a giant in your bottom.” I was very confused and began to get upset when she was telling me that Grandma and Auntie were telling her that I have a giant bottom…I just had my fourth baby, for God’s sake! She was very adamant and kept repeating herself and then in frustration finally said, “YOU KNOW! BOYS HAVE A PENIS AND GIRLS HAVE A GIANT!”

    Totally made sense.

  31. I would have never stopped laughing. And good for you teaching your child the proper words and how it all works. One less guy to be scared witless about female anatomy!

  32. Properly weeded out! Ladies without a good sense of humor can’t be in the circle. I would have LOVED to witness that:).

  33. Hilarious.

  34. My daughter is 6. she knows that boys and girls have different genitals, that babies grow in mommy’s bellies and doctors know how and when to take them out. We haven’t taught her the details or correct names just yet. Why rush it? She will learn it all eventually. She knows her body is private and how to keep it safe. She lets me know if there is a problem with her ‘front butt’ and I am completely ok with that :)

  35. This is a conversation I overheard between my 8 year old daughter and my 7 year old son…they are teenagers now.
    8 Year Old “I have a special hole in my bottom. It’s called a vagina. It’s how babies get in and out.”
    7 Year Old “No you don’t”
    8 Year Old “Yes, I do, Mom said.”
    7 Year Old “Show me.”
    8 Year Old “I can’t show you. It’s part of my privates.”
    7 Year Old “Then how are you going to prove it?”
    8 Year Old “I know, let’s get Annie (4 year old).”

    UMMM…no. that’s when I interrupted.

  36. My son and daughter were close in age and always took baths together (ahem, until a certain ‘developmental’ age!) and at an early age she began noticing their differences. I also used anatomically correct terms with them. My daughter’s pleas for a penis were met with, “God made you a girl, and girls don’t have those parts; girls have vagina’s”. In the store one day, she very loudly asked if I could buy her a penis like brother has. Thank God not many overheard!

    • love this – and good to know my daughter is not the only one……….just a few weeks ago my 2.5 yr old daughter went to use the toilet and said “mom, can you ask dadda to go to store and get me a penis?” (my son is almost 4 and she would like to stand and pee like he does)

  37. That was hilarious!! I could potentially have a challenging day and will keep this in mind for some light random laughter.

  38. I’ve been working to teach my 6 year old daughter the proper names of things. She slept over once at her cousin’s house, and the cousin wanted my daughter to watch a kid’s video with her about the knights of Arabia or something. My daughter looked at her aunt with indignant surprise and said, ” THAT is inappropriate.” Her aunt eventually figured out that my daughter thought she was going to show the little girls a video about Labia.

  39. So glad to read this and giggle. My daughter, when I tried to explain to her how her brother came to be in my tummy, asked if she used to be in there at one time. I explained to her that of course she had her turn, to which she turned to me very accusatory, and said, “You mean you ate me”? She was 4 then and it was so funny because she was completely serious in her question. I pray to never forget times like those.

  40. Hilarious

  41. If I was one of those moms, that was the moment that I would have known that I’d found my new best friend. That is frigging hilarious!

  42. Okay, I rarely laugh out loud, but I just did several times. Hilarious!!!!

  43. That’s fabulous. And I am glad you taught your kids all of the actual words. I wish I was at that playdate – it would have made us fast friends, for sure 😉 I get such a kick out of having these conversations with my kids – it makes me feel like I am on a gameshow, trying to keep my cool, and on the clock to get the answers right so that I win the right to be asked another question. I like the conversations because I am really hoping if I keep my cool and appear to have good answers, they might actually keep talking to me…even when they are teenagers…

  44. Glennon, that would have solidified my desire to be your best friend! If those ladies didn’t get it, they didn’t deserve you. :) LOVE this story!

  45. My son used to say that about a particularly hilly country road we used to go down when he was little. “This tickles my penis!” … I guess “butterflies in my stomach” made NO sense to him!

  46. Baaaahahahahahahaaha! This is great… my 5 year old is very curious about how the baby in my tummy is going to get out. This just solidified my desire to NOT tell him the details 😉

    • My son (7) kept asking me how the doctor got him and his little sister (4) out of my tummy. I replied “very carefully”.

  47. G, if I had been there, I would have thought that was HILARIOUS!!

  48. When my brother was about three, he returned from Sunday school and showed my parents a drawing he had made. “That’s Sis, that’s Daddy…and that’s me and my big penis!” Shouted it, really, in a crowded church service. My mom turned to my dad and said, “That’s it. We’re out of here,” and we beat a hasty retreat.

  49. OMG! That is hysterical!! People are going to come in my office and ask me what wrong!! Promise not to tell my husband I told you this story?? OK: Once when we were at the playground I was chatting with a dad while we were both pushing our children on the swings. It was just nice friendly parental chatter until my son yelled, “Mommy! This swing tickles my penis!!” Then it got a little awkward.

    • The first time we took our then 5 year old on the pirate ship swing, he started yelling, “My penis tickles!” Over and over and over….couldn’t persuade him to say his tummy tickled, until he was 8.

  50. So yesterday I was at the Y. My saving grace. Free childcare – oh yeah!! Anyway – my son (3.5) had three “classes” back to back so between two of them I give him a snack in the lobby and make him try to go to the bathroom. He kept saying, louder and louder, “I don’t have any pee pee in my bum!!!” I quietly said, “Well, that’s a good thing since pee pee doesn’t belong in your bum.” Then he started repeating, louder and louder of course, “I don’t have any pee pee in my PENIS!!!”

    I decided long ago that we would use real terms for body parts. In that moment, I was REALLY wishing I hadn’t. 😉

  51. Thanks for the giggle this morning! I must admit I know that shocked look of other mothers well. When I was a new mom, I was all about teaching my child the correct names for things. No crass, playground vocabulary for my boys. Then one day we (my 3 year old son and I) were at the Children’s Museum playing at the pretend hospital with the dolls. My 3 year old son proudly was dressing and undressing the dolls, when he loudly announced, “Look, Mom! this baby has a penis……and a SCROTUM too!” All the other mothers and children quickly turned and left the area!

  52. That is FLIPPING hilarious! If I had been one of those moms, I would have busted out laughing and we’d still be best friends.

  53. haha — that’s awesome! and maybe I’m naive, as my boys are 1 and 4…but why does ‘the talk’ have to be ‘THE talk’, anyways??? like a one time, awkward, uncomfortable talk…i’m hoping its not. love your stories and your writing! thanks!

    • Kristi, it’s totally not a one-time talk. I promise! :)

    • You are absolutely right! You can respond to questions when they are asked. And talk about body parts at appropriate times and places, where the child’s natural curiosity is raised – like Bath Time! Trust me – I raised 5 and have 13 Grands! Grandma Susan

    • Agreed, my girls are 1 & 3 and as questions arise we try our best to be honest and to use correct vocabulary. We definitely try to keep as much as age appropriate as we can and don’t elaborate unless further questions arise.

  54. Laughing out loud for real. Your children are great.x

  55. Oh, I needed that laugh this morning. XO

  56. Glennon, I just love you!

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