It was Saturday. I was driving down the road with my, then three-year-old, son. We were in our typical groove of playing his favorite song. Replaying it. And then replaying it again. Every time we got to the last chorus, he’d stop staring out the window long enough to say, “I want to hear it again,” and I’d reassure him that we could, in fact, hear it again.

Then, about the third time through, the final chorus came and went with no request. As relief began to settle in, and I began to consider what other songs we could listen to, my son turned away from the window with a new question:

“Mama. How does a baby get into a mama’s belly?”

Wait. What? Rewind. “Don’t you want to hear your song AGAIN?” My mind immediately started searching for stall tactics. Maybe he wasn’t really asking what I thought he was asking. I mean he was THREE. I wasn’t planning for this talk . . . not yet . . . not now.

“What do you mean?” I asked, trying to play dumb. Hoping he was really seeking some kind of other information.

“A baby. How does it get into a mama’s belly?” He repeated his question.

I mean, really, could he have been any clearer? He was being about as specific as a kid can be.

I’m not going to tell you what I said next. Let’s be honest, you’re reading a parenting blog. I’m going to assume you’ve figured out that answer. But I can assure you, I felt very much on the spot as I navigated the tricky water between not outright lying to my son and not giving him more information than I felt he was ready for as a three-year-old.

As parents, sometimes there are things we don’t see coming:
conversations we weren’t prepared to have.
requests we didn’t plan to answer, yet.
situations we weren’t ready to navigate.

That’s why I’m excited about an exciting project we’re working on to help every parent anticipate and understand a few things about the stages of a kids life so they can leverage distinctive opportunities to impact their future. As part of that project, one of the things we’d like to know is this:

What is something that surprised you as a parent?

What are some of the things you didn’t feel prepared for simply because you didn’t see them coming? Here are a few ideas to get you started. Comment below to add your own, and as a thank you, we will send one of you a Starbucks gift card. Why Starbucks? I don’t know, I just like coffee.

I was caught off guard as a parent when my kid / teenager . . .

– outgrew the bath time, bedtime routine
– stopped believing in Santa
– asked to spend the night
– said they had a girlfriend
– said a bad word.
– introduced me to a friend I hadn’t known about.
– asked for their own phone
– went to their first school a dance.

Kristen IvyKristen is the Executive Director of Messaging at Orange and co-author of Playing For Keeps and Creating a Lead Small Culture. She combines her degree in secondary education with a Master of Divinity and lives out the full Orange spectrum as the wife of XP3 Students Orange Specialist, Matt Ivy, and the mother of two First-Look (preschool) children, Sawyer and Hensley. You can find Kristen on Twitter, @Kristen_Ivy.