On her third birthday I told my daughter the story of her birth: how my water breaking echoed in my head like a popped juicebox; how people outside the hospital had given dad and me thumbs up; how I’d barely had to push before she slid right out.
She looked up from her breakfast cake. “What, Mom?”
Dang. I thought I’d told her that part already. I am trying to raise my children between the zero awareness of my own West Indian childhood and the over-parented Brooklyn model. I grew up in a house of euphemisms; the childhood word I recall for penis is so ridiculous (surely it wasn’t kilily?) I recently called my older sister to fact-check its truth (it was). At my daughter’s three-year check-up I asked her pediatrician if I’d spoiled her innocence. “Not at all,” he assured. “Children need appropriate vocabulary. No ridiculous code words like cabinet or flower. You gave her little information. When she gets older, give her a little more.”