Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Talking about the S Word
My coping mechanism for this is to not have "the talk." And by that I mean that I never, ever, ever intend to sit down with my daughters on the edge of the bed and have a full-on heart-to-heart where we cover every bird and bee issue under the sun, like they always seem to do on TV. Instead I have "talkettes."
It started for both of them when they were about two. Two rules for two year olds:
1. No one touches you where your bathing suit covers except mommy or daddy and the doctor in mommy or daddy's presence; and
2. You are boss of your body.
That's pretty much the basics. Since the first talkette, Brynna has asked questions that launched a new talkette, like, "Mommy, what's a period?" and I have done my best to not choke on my Coca-Cola and answer in a complete and truthful manner without telling her more than she actually wants to know.* (And you know, make sure she's talking about that period and not the one that comes at the end of a sentence.)
As far as spit-take inducing and immense discomfort goes, it's all been pretty cool so far. Until last week. While we were watching TV, Brynna casually said, "I know what you're supposed to use your girlfriend for - sex." Other than the massive heart attack I suffered right there in my mom's living room, I survived. I chose to answer the more worrying part of that statement - i.e. not sex.
"Well, Brynna, a boyfriend and a girlfriend are in a relationship," I said. "They shouldn't be using each other for anything. A relationship is about equal parties treating each other with love and respect. Not about one person using the other person for anything."
Later, in the car, Brynna asked what sex was anyway. Brynna asks me stuff in the car a lot because she doesn't have to look at me or have me look at her. This is a good thing when I am pretending not to have an aneurysm. It is a bad thing in that Maren is typically in the car with us and I have to think doubly hard about age-level appropriateness.
I survived, but just barely. I answered as honestly as I could, without giving any scary details and made sure to emphasize the part where - for the love of pants - only grown-ups. I mean, I kept the car on the road and that seems to be a major accomplishment here.
So when does sex ed start these days? I mean obviously, the playground talk has already started. Isn't that when other adults should step in and save me from myself? I feel certain that talking to your kids about sex is the ultimate punishment for having it yourself. Pregnancy, childbirth, sleepless nights - cake walk. This is the real test.
*In my opinion, this is another big deal. A three year old asking what sex is wants a completely different answer than a fourteen year old. You have to know your kids and also, you have to ask them, "How much do you want to know," or give them permission to stop you, "it's okay to tell me that I'm talking too much." Just remember where you left off for next time.