Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Talking About Sex - Let 'em Be Little
When I was in fifth grade, my friends were talking about sex. One friend was curious about oral sex and spoke about it in pretty vulgar terms on the school bus regularly. Another friend wanted to practice sex positions on a pillow at sleepovers. Remembering this, I started to get nervous as my son's first sleepover outside our home approached. I began to think that maybe it was time for him to have "the talk." I talked to my husband who adamantly insisted that our son was too young, and tried to convince him that kids these days were talking to their parents about these things from an early age nowadays. All I could do was get his blessing to continue on my mission to educate our son myself. Slightly overwhelmed, I started asking for advice. I started with my sister who laughed with me as we remembered how our own mother had attempted this Herculean task by being as straightforward as she could; even though her own mother hadn't spoken to her at all on the subject. Next I turned to my friends online who offered a host of advice ranging from "make it a part of frequent, every day conversations" to "Cover the basics of intercourse, aka how babies are made, buy him a book that tells him all the rest." The best advice I got was to,"tell him as much as you think he needs to know at this time; this should get as far as the part about safe and protected sex. Indicate that he can ask questions any time and then call it a time for ice cream." One friend pointed me toward a video online from the eighties. That seemed like an option, if my son seemed uncomfortable talking directly with me. Armed with the proper vocabulary, with my video waiting on cue on my iPad and my speech all scripted out in my head, I called my son upstairs to talk to me. I started out just like I had been advised... "So, I wanted to talk to you about sex and I thought maybe we could start by you telling me what you know about it." "Nothing" he grunted. "Are you embarrassed?" I asked, noticing he had already shut down. "No." "Do you want me to tell you what sex is?" "No. I am not worried about it right now." Not ready for this, I stumble a little bit. "Because you don't have to talk to me about it. If you want I have a video you can watch in private." "It's okay mom." "Alright. You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. But I would prefer if you don't learn from your friends or the internet, so when you are ready please come to me or your daddy. If you want, you can talk to your granddad. Do you understand?" "Yeah. My friends aren't talking about it." "If they were, you wouldn't be in trouble. I just want you to have the facts. Would you be more comfortable if I got a book and you could just look at it when you were ready?" "Yes." "Ok, then that's what we'll do. Go play." And that was it. It was over almost as fast as it had begun and I never had to say the word penis. My son had led the way. He wasn't ready. It was as simple as that. I had pushed my own experiences on him and refused to see what my husband had seen all along, that my son was not me. His friends were not my friends. His experiences are not mine. Just because the kids I grew up with were shockingly advanced for their age, doesn't mean that my kid is growing up in that same world. And thank goodness for that. My son is eleven and he is still worried about video games and basketball. Oh be still my beating heart. My eyes well with tears as I am filled with gratitude and I am reminded of another piece of good advice I have been given. My dad told me long ago to let my children be little. They are only that way for a little while. You blink and suddenly they are grown. Yes, it is important to educate our children. It's important to give them the right words and the facts. It's important to give them the morals that go with those facts that will keep them well in life. But it's okay to let them be little too. It's okay to follow their lead and let them tell you when they aren't ready. There's no rush here. They have plenty of time to figure these things out without the adults in their lives hurrying things along. Let them be little for as long as they'll let you, because one day you'll be wishing that all your kid was worried about was video games and basketball.