Is sex dirty? Only if you do it right.” ~ Woody Allen
Have you had the big sex talk with your kids yet?
I’m not talking the kind of clinical talk (man puts penis in woman’s vagina, an egg is fertilized by a sperm, baby comes out, yadda yadda), since the kids get that info way early on at school.
I’m talking about the rest of it — what all those hormones do to a person, when it starts happening (hint: even a little younger than you think or remember), and what makes sense when. And truthfully, that schoolbook explanation doesn’t cover the half of it and may not ever apply to them.
I am going to be totally honest here and say I haven’t had the full-on talk just yet. I have a 12 year-old girl and a 13-year old boy, so I don’t think I’ve dropped the ball (pun intended). We have, however, done the “where do babies come from” bit several times over the years, and I even put in the kid’s bathroom my old dog-eared copy of the Peter Mayle/Arthur Robins classic, Where Did I Come From, where adorable and yet anatomically correct people illustrate the facts of life, with neither a bird nor a bee in sight. (And if ANYONE could explain what a bird or a bee has to do with sex, I’d appreciate it. I can visualize dogs doing it, but not so much winged creatures. Although maybe a hummingbird is a good example of what sex is like when you’re trying to squeeze it in between the cracks of our busy, modern, adult life. Not for me, of course — but maybe for you?)
But just as the sexy time drum beats are quickening in my world, one of my Best Bitches Forever (BBF) who is just a pinch ahead of me with a couple of gorgeous teenage daughters just recently got shoved into the sex talk swamp and found it wasn’t so simple to keep her head above water. When hit with the personal questions — When did you lose your virginity? When did you have your first drink? (Coincidentally these things usually come in pairs) — she did what any other parent would do.
Not about the important, emotional core stuff, and not by a lot, but she instinctively pushed her age of discovery up by a couple of years. And later at lunch with her BBFs, she shared her war story and found her friends were all in the same place. Together they commiserated, nervously laughing as they ordered more drinks to ease their underlying fears.
That she used the word “fears” was very telling. Parents are hardwired to see every situation from all angles — especially how our children can possibly be hurt engaging in a particular activity.
Does sex hurt? Only if you do it right… which includes throwing some deeply heartfelt emotional states into the mix, like love, self-esteem, innocence, etc.
As I read my friend’s email describing the scene, I could totally relate. I had actually felt that same thunderbolt of fear when I dropped my son off at a recent high school orientation and took a good look the beautiful, sexy girls in the shortest shorts ever that were greeting him and escorting him off to not just a campus tour, but also to a place middleschoolers only dream of.
Seeing your child as a sexual being is tough. Maybe even a little tougher than looking at your parents as sexual beings.
There is a lot of pressure in today’s world for moms and pops to be hip, cool, and enormously approachable. So this is one more thing that we think we have to field like a pro. Part of this comes from the idea that our parents’ generation was more proper, but also more repressed.
As my BBF so aptly put it, “Just when you think ‘phew glad that is over with,’ you’re also telling yourself, I’m a current mom, I can handle this, I’m going to be open and honest with my kids, cause Lord knows my mother could not have skimmed over this crap any faster and any more superficial than she did.”
But then again, I wonder this: If my mom or dad — your mom or dad — could’ve gone into great detail and tried to hammer over and over all the graphic physical aspects of sex, would I — you — have wanted to hear it from either of them?
If you just mentally said to yourself, “Of course!” then you are lying like a rug.
Everything I ever wanted to know about sex (and wasn’t afraid to ask), I learned from my friends. Actually, I learned them specifically at camp. One half hour sail in a sunfish, and I knew exactly how to give the perfect blow job (as illustrated on a lollipop — get your mind out of the gutter, people!) The first eight minute and three second “Stairway to Heaven” slow dance with a cute boy from our brother camp, and I suddenly realized that funny feeling in my stomach wasn’t butterflies, but something much more powerful. And then there was my first kiss. My first grope….
OK, I gotta stop there because my mother reads this blog. And despite evidence to the contrary (two kids and more than two decades of being fully legal to do pretty much anything I want), she still believes I am her sweet, innocent baby. I don’t want to crush the lady…
And neither do your kids!
So while we’re all thinking that we want to be able to discuss everything with our children, we also have to realize that we don’t want them knowing our gory and personal details, and frankly, we don’t want to know theirs. Or shouldn’t at least.
Sex itself isn’t hard (not if you do it right), but all the pieces that go with it are. So what’s worth being truthful and clear about are things like birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, having self-esteem, honoring your body and your feelings, and all the rest of the bits that make not just our kids, but all of us truly vulnerable.
I’m not saying there won’t be nervous giggling (yours mainly), but be the parent. You don’t have to share your personal history, and moreover, your kids don’t necessarily want you to (even if they ask). They do want to know that like any other situation, you help set the boundaries, but if they get into trouble they can come to you.
That’s the sex talk you want to have, my bitches.
And afterwards, if you want to blow off a little steam, come and find me after lights out, and I’ll be happy to read you the dirty parts of our favorite sex bible, Judy Blume’s Forever. Just don’t forget to tell your kids that your Bitch’in Suburbia and her old pal Woody Allen says sex without love is an empty experience, but as far as empty experiences go, it’s one of the best.