A few months ago, while getting ready for bed, my 10 year-old son, “A”, dropped this bomb on me. “Mom, I know that the mom has the egg and the dad gives her the seed to make a baby, but how does the seed get to the egg.” Gulp. Where is the husband when I need him!
I’ve always been open and matter-of-fact when answering questions about “A’s” body and how babies are made. I followed his lead on how much information he wanted, asked if my reply gave him the answer that he needed, and let him know that if he had any more questions, he could ask me…I’m always here…blah, blah, blah.
But in this case, I had to say the words, “man puts penis in the woman’s vagina” to my son, and I have to admit, it felt a little weird to say that to my 10 year-old kid.
His reply, “OH MY GOD! EWWWWWW!!” complete with shrieks, giggles, and head buried under the pillow. When he finally came up for air, his next question was, “Do you have to do that every time you want a baby?”
“A”: “Does it hurt?”
Me: “No, when two people love each other it feels very pleasurable.”
“A”: “Did you have to do it more than once?”
Me: “Yes. Is there anything else you’d like to know?”
At that point, I think he was sufficiently stunned and needed to think things over. I added the obligatory Santa clause, “Now, this is not something that we talk about with our friends, because their parents may have not discussed this with them yet. If you have any other questions, I’m here, ok?”
My own parents never really discussed sex with me – even when I approached the subject of my period, (which the girl down the street told me about one afternoon while we were on her backyard swing set), my mom gave me a book and told me to read it and let her know if I have questions. I think I learned about sex from (author) Judy Blume, who was probably more comfortable discussing it than my mom. But even though it’s a little unsettling, I believe it’s better for kids to get the facts from their parents than from kids on the playground who may, or may not, have the right information.
I realize that my conversation with “A” about sex was just the first of many. While the mechanics of sex are pretty straightforward (well, the basics, anyway), there are a lot more conversations to be had that will involve the more complicated aspects of sexuality – kids getting involved in sex at an early age, birth control, STD’s, respecting women, and attitudes towards homosexuality, among them. All of which I think I’ve laid (no pun intended) the foundation for by talking about self-respect and showing respect to, and for, other people, but, nonetheless, need to be reinforced in context to sex.
This topic has been on my mind all week. Last Saturday evening we attended a 4th of July party at a friend’s house who has adolescent and teenage kids, so there was quite a range of ages, “A” being among the youngest. During the evening hours they played volleyball and basketball outside, but at dusk the kids all tumbled inside and were hanging out in the basement, as teenagers tend to do. A little while later, “A” came upstairs and whispered to me that he was ready to go. He looked kind of concerned, so I asked him what happened, “Mom, they’re talking about sex and stuff, and I feel uncomfortable,” he said. We thanked our hostess and said our goodbyes and left. When we got to the car, I asked what they were saying that made him so uncomfortable, he told me that they were talking about, “some girl’s boobs” and he didn’t think it was right.
I’m glad that he felt self-aware enough to choose to leave, and comfortable enough with me to tell me about it. We talked about the fact that teenagers are going to talk about these things, but if something makes him feel uncomfortable, he can just try to change the subject, or just leave.
And with middle school just one year away, I have a feeling that this is just the beginning…