We watched the sun set behind the horses. A girl brought out some carrots, and we helped feed them a treat. Light filtered through their manes. My son and the girl giggled. The horses munched. It was perfect.
"Are they male or female?" my son asked.
"The horses? I'm not going to check. You check," I told him.
"How do you check?"
"How do you think?"
He got down on the ground, and gave us a report.
"This one has a penis. This one too. Man, some are bigger than others! This one doesn't. Does that mean it has a vagina? What do those look like?"
How did we get from a pastoral, rosy-hued Perfect Moment to horse penises? I wondered in dismay.
He re-emerged, fed a few more carrot pieces to each horse, and we were on our way.
Except the conversation continued.
"So do horse penises and vaginas ..." he trailed off.
"It works the same as with other mammals."
"Oh. Like people?"
"Yes. Horses use a different position, but basically it's like people."
"OK. Hey, I've been wondering. What does sex feel like?"
"It, well ... If you're an adult, and the other person is an adult, and you both are committed to each other and consent ... then, for adults, it can feel very good."
[Long conversation detailing consent for a 9-year-old audience.]
"So ... what if the people are kids?" he asked.
"That's not for kids."
"Ew! You're right. I think it's gross."
"Well, that's fine. You're kind of supposed to. It's not something that you even have to think about for a long time."
"What if one person is a kid, and the other person is an adult?"
I didn't think it was possible to yearn so badly for a return to the innocent topic of horse penises.
Isn't there a giant bubble I can keep him in?