I have two sons. My oldest is twelve. My youngest is ten. It is most definitely time to check back in and have the updated and age-appropriate SEX talk. Because we have boys and because Dave is the adult male of the family, I always hoped he would be the one who took the lead in all sex-related matters. However, knowing my lovely husband as I do, I also realize that I am the one who has to get the awkward-conversation-with-your-child ball rolling. I will be the one that says, “Hey Dave, it is time to talk to the boys about [insert uncomfortable topic here].” When I have asked him to talk to Kyle & Eli he always does. He sticks to the facts and I think the boys respond well to his line of reasoning. In contrast, even the mention of words like, “sex, girls, or babies,” makes them squirm, look away and say things like, “Are you done yet?” I must admit as Kyle is a little older her is less squirmy and seems more interested in what I have to say. I does not hurt that the school held the “maturation” class with Kyle’s grade last year. He seems more confident and less freaked out.
Today I did want to test the waters and see what my younger son knew. He has always asked my about kissing and girls and has always seemed aware of what’s up or so I thought. Even though I knew he might cringe (and he did) when I brought up the subject, I decided I would try to bring it up anyway.
I went downstairs. Eli was chilling and watching TV. Oddly, the TV room seems to be a place where we have had a lot of these “uncomfortable” conversations. I grabbed the remote, paused the television and casually asked Eli, “Hey, do kids talk about sex at school?” (Wait! Before I blurted out my question, I warned him that I wanted to talk to him about something important. I needed to ask him a big question and I was ok with his answers.)
E: Completely weirded out by my question he responded, “Mom. No. No they don’t.”
Me: “Do you remember when Dad and I talked to you about it?” (I said it because saying the word, SEX to my 10 year old was super strange for me too)
E: “Um. No. No I don’t.”
Me: “Do know (deep breath) what SEX is?”
E: “No. No I don’t.” Eli said as he hid his head under a pillow.
Me: “What do you know?”
E: “It is something a man and a woman does. Mom, Mom, I really don’t want to talk about this.”
Me: “Ok. I just want to make sure you know what’s up. Dad and I don’t want you or Kyle to get in a situation you are not ready for. And this is the time to start talking.”
E: “Ok. (Even though he was super uneasy I could see that Eli did understand.) I am just not comfortable talking about it now.”
Me: “I get it. Dad should be here too. Right?” Then I gave him a look like, “I get it too. I am not very comfortable talking about this either.”
A few minutes later I ask Eli to come upstairs. I have the apples and peanut butter ready that he requested. And no, no I was not going to make a SEX analogy using the Apples and Peanut Butter. Honestly, how would you tie apples and peanut butter into sex? Crazy.
As we walked up the stairs together I slipped in another question, ” So has your school counselor told you guys anything about sex?”
E: “No. No. She just tells us about weird drugs.”
Me: Now in the kitchen I said, “Ok, I have one more question.”
E: “Mom. I thought you were not going to talk about this.”
Me: “Hey so do you know how baies are made?”
E: He pointed at my stomach and said, “They get in there.”
Me: “Do you know how?”
E: “Something with a man and a woman.”
Me: “Do you remember when we told you how that happens?”
E: “No. No I don’t”
Me: “Any ideas”
E: “Dad shoved a seed down your throat [laughs]. No, I am just kidding. I do not know.” Then Eli put his hands over his ears and starts singing, “la la la la la.”
We were definitely done with this conversation. I also realized that I still am not sure I know how to talk to my kids about sex. I do not know if there is a right way. I have read books. I have read things on the internet. I know people say you should be real and that when your kids are old enough that you should talk to them candidly about sex. You should tell them about birth control and condoms. And because we have boys, we need to include a chapter on Masturbation and Pornography (that is all Dave).
I am open (or so I thought.) Years ago I thought it would be easy and that I would have no problem talking to my boys: “Hey, so Dad and I really don’t want you to have sex. For starters you could get someone pregnant. . . ” I thought I would say. It is not like that. Not at all. At least it is not like that in our home. This all being said, the conversation needs to be had. I think dialog needs to begin when they are young and it needs to continue. I hope my boys know that they can come to Dave and me and ask any question. If they are too uncomfortable asking, I hope Dave and I keep finding ways of checking in and making sure they both really know what is up. It is our job.
Sure, in theory I want my kids to wait until they are married or in love to have sex. I want them to be careful. I do not want them to get someone pregnant. I want them to understand boundaries and to know enough so that they can stop. STDs are a terrible thing and I want my boys to know better. I like what a friend of mine says to her teenage children, “If you are going to do something we don’t want you to do, then be smart about it.” This same friend said something along the lines of, “You can have sex like it is a pastime like going to the spa or playing a sport or you can wait make it something really special.” All good words of wisdom.
If you have any hints or things that have worked for you (and you probably do), PLEASE let me know. I am open and I hope I can teach my boys to be safe, respectful and appropriate. I want them to know that sex is a really cool and beautiful thing.
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By the way, as I picked Kyle up from school I decided to throw the SEX question his way. Contrary to the credit I previously gave him, like his brother, he was equally disgusted and freaked out. He put both hands in the air and said, “Mom, I know what sex is. The kids talk about it on the bus. They talk about it at school. They talk about it in the halls. They talk about it in class. They talk about it EVERYWHERE! Mom, they talk about SEX all the time!”
Me: “Ok, then why don’t you tell me.”
Kyle: “Mom, I really do not want to talk about this now.”
Me: “Ok. I just want to make sure you know what it is.”
Kyle: “I know and I am.”
Then I put my hand on Kyle’s shoulder and assured him that Dave and I will always check in with him and Eli. We want to keep the dialog open. We want them to always know they can talk to us and that we will not stop talking to them (even if they are uncomfortable).