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I am beginning to dread the dulcet tones of the school secretaries as they seem to be harbingers, if not quite of doom then at least, of discomfort. Our presence has been requested at the school again. This time it was necessary to deal with a somewhat embarrassed member of teaching staff. It seems that other children in reception were not quite as ‘au fait’ with the mechanics of baby making as my darling daughter who, in the spirit of one moved to speak the truth, was discovered standing on a table proclaiming her new found knowledge to a rapt classroom of horrified 5 year olds. For this I entirely blame David Attenborough.

It has always been my principle to answer questions of a biological nature truthfully, but only when they come up, and I have never attempted to join the dots. None the less, the wonder that is natural history programming on the BBC did that job for me.

Whilst watching ‘en famille’ some mongooses (mongeese?) ‘getting it on’ our youngest daughter put forward a perfectly reasonable enquiry as to what was happening.  We all answered in unison but not unfortunately as one voice. The combined explanation of “mating”, “fighting” and “making a baby mongoose” must have been anything but reassuring. It was at this moment that the events all clicked into place and my rather too sharp youngest piped up with ” urrgh, did you really have to do that to get me?” To which the only sensible answer seemed to be “Not up a tree darling”. Attempts to leave it at that were foiled by the dratted BBC cameraman’s clear fascination with this particularly frolicsome pair of lovers. More questions were inevitable and sure enough they came –  ” the lady mongoose doesn’t seem to like it much. Did you like it Mummy?”

'Not up a tree, darling'

‘Not up a tree, darling’

A snort of quickly smothered laughter and a slight raising of The Times reminded me of the presence of an actual doctor in the house. With all the speed of a cornered mongoose I turned tail and headed for the sanctuary of the downstairs loo to recover my equilibrium leaving Doctor Daddy in charge of Sex Ed. This – it turns out - was a mistake. He was evidently much too clear on the mechanics and rather too positive about the benefits, as I discovered at bath time when required to explain why Ben and Harriet should not instigate their seemingly marvellous plan of hatching an egg right there and then. Some discussion of genetic abnormalities caused by consanguinity later a large G&T seemed to be called for:   I had survived the dread ‘chat’.

Had this been the end of our exploration of the world of birds and bees I would have been very grateful but our darling daughter had other ideas. With this new found and interesting knowledge burning a hole in her brain she needed to share – hence the table top declaration. Correct as her anatomical knowledge and language had been apparently other parents do not share our relaxed attitude to ‘errhm - mating’ and Harriet’s vivid description with attendant requirements for tree climbing had been enough to give nightmares to even the hardiest souls particularly as she had added as an extra titbit of news that ‘when you die my daddy comes and cuts you into slices and then you are ham’!

I am persona non grata in the playground again.  My children sure know how to sort the friends from the foes but I do wish they wouldn’t.