Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Talk

We have already had The Talk with our girls. Actually, several versions of the The Talk have gone under the bridge, and I imagine there are at least a dozen more (each) in front of us.
My parents weren’t big on explaining the facts of life to my sister and me. Truth be told, they weren’t big on explaining anything and subscribed to the “be seen and not heard” school of raising children. My sister was given a book explaining all the details which she later passed down to me. That meant that I got my period before I quite understood how babies were made. That doesn’t seem right. And there was no internet back then!

Lizzie got her first talk when I was pregnant with Rosie. We looked at the pictures in my pregnancy book which showed the baby’s progress inside the mother’s womb starting from the egg and the sperm all the way through the stages of birth (neither one of us like looking at that page). Lizzie and Rosie both like to look through that book even today. And as they have grown their questions have evolved. We try to answer them all. They know that the egg is in Mommy and the sperm is in Daddy. They know that babies are part Mommy and Daddy and that the egg carries Mommy’s part and the sperm is a kind of a seed that carries Daddy’s part. They know how and where the baby grows and that when no seed is planted, the protection for the baby isn’t needed and comes out (menstruation). They haven’t yet asked for the details of how the seed gets to the egg, but they know that it is called sex. They know that people have sex to make babies and even when they don’t want to have a baby because they love each other and it feels nice.

That’s the story we have reached to this point. I think it is good enough and quite sufficient for their age. They know that they are going to get breasts. Rosie has her fingers crossed for big ones. I don’t know why - I often extoll the virtues of smaller breasts. They know that they will menstruate. We talked briefly about the decision to become a mother (so we weren’t really talking about sex), and they know that becoming a mother is an option in the future but not a necessity if that is not what they wish.

So far the girls come to us when they want to know something. We’ve even had a small accident with internet pornography. Lizzie was playing a computer game at her friend’s house something like old school Pac Man but the character is a school boy who has to go to the bathroom at school. There are all kinds of obstacles such as the teacher, bookshelves, other kids, and one annoying girl. If you run into that girl, the boy in the game pees on her. Such fun, right? I was cooking dinner and Lizzie was at the computer searching Google for that game. Some pretty interesting stuff comes up when you put “boy pees on girl” into your search engine, even when you use a filter. I quickly switched it off, but took the opportunity to discuss with Lizzie was we saw. She asked, “Do people like to do that?”. I said that apparently some people do. Lizzie replied that she didn’t think that would be nice. I agreed. End of story. We never did find that game, but we did find a really stupid game called “Kick the Principal” which involves kicking the school principal in his desk chair and sending him spinning into outer space.
Last year, my friend told me that her son had asked her about oral sex. Actually he asked her about the euphemism for a blow job in Polish which is translated to “making ice cream”. (You scream! I scream! We all scream for ice cream!) He was about 11 years old at the time and was aware that it had something to do with sex – and he asked his mother. I gave her a big bravo because at that age, my parents are the last people I would have asked about sex.
“What did you tell him?” I asked.
“Nothing,” she replied. “He’s too young and what if he asked if I do that with his father?”
“You tell him that it is private business between Mom and Dad. Don’t you think you should tell him what it is? He came to you first,” I argued.
“I know, he was checking it on the computer.”
“So tell him. Do you not ever want him to have ice cream in the future?”
And after that the conversation went all to hell. Because as it seems, some people think “making ice cream” is a perversion and some parents do not want their children to have healthy sex lives in the future. My girls are far, far away from sex but step by step, year by year, my goal for them is to have a healthy adult life which will, gasp, include sex.
It’s important to me that my children go out in the world able to make their own decisions armed with information and support from their parents. Maybe an 11-year-old is kind of young to talk about oral sex, but if your kid is asking maybe it isn’t too young at all. I try to use the real words for things and adjust my explanation as they get older. I ask them to explain it back to me to check how much they got. I don’t want them to be teenagers and not understand how their bodies work. I remember back to my days as a high school teacher in the States when I had to explain how babies were made to a 16-year-old student. That’s not part of the history curriculum, but I could see she was worried about something. She hadn’t got her period for a couple of months and was worried that she might die. Yes, die – that’s what she said. When she confirmed that she was sexually active, I told her that she might be pregnant, not dying. She knew nothing about sperm or eggs and thought love was the key element to making babies. The fact that she loved her boyfriend but “he don’t love me” was for her enough to protect her from pregnancy. I did my best to explain how it really works. “But my grandmother said that when two people love each other…”
Did you get The Talk from your parents? How different was your talk from the one you’re planning to have with your own kids?
Oh, and how to explain the whole bj situation to an 11-year-old if he is asking?


Iwona A. said...

I never ever ever had any talk with my mum. I got my first period on a sport camp abroad. Came home, told my mum, she only said: "Period? Good, so you know what to do..."
My children never asked about details, but they knew how the babies are made and where they come from. In my opinion simple honest answer is enough to satisfy kid's curiosity, no answer is much worse as they start looking for it elsewhere.

Stardust said...

Of course my parents never talked about, but for heaven sake I'm 60, I thought things changed since then. On the other hand how can things change if even adults don't know how to talk about sex.
I always laugh when I hear about "making love" or "kochaniu" when someone means having sex.
Love and kochanie are emotions, you can't MAKE an emotion is not material.
And then you expect these people to be able to talk to their children?
Chris get real:))

czarownica said...

Knew from my parents very early (4-5?)about the egg and the seed business, without detalis how the two get together though, so was pretty shocked when a schoolmate told me at the age of 7-8 maybe?
Then there was "Sztuka kochania" on the shelf in our bookcase (not hidden between bed sheets as in some other homes), so could expand my knowledge easily.
My sister had a nice childrens book on THESE topics in the early 80's, which I kept for my children as it was a really great aid to The Talks. Always answered all their questions in a way they could understand at their age. And living in the UK they had lots of it at school, inlcuding how to put a condom on, etc.

Re "icecream making" - would say sth similar to yours, that people have sex in different ways, using different parts of their bodies, so for a change penis may go into other holes than traditional vagina, and as long as both parties agree and accept, it's OK. May trigger the next question, about what happens to the sperm then, so be prepared!

ds said...

same as czarownica, and we too had at home "sztuka kochania" and "seks partnerski" Lwa-Starowicza (not many more books were available in Poland then). I was 4 when my aunt tried to tell me something about stork bringing babies. I looked at her and said "auntie, a man and a woman are needed to make a baby..."

Chris said...

Iwona - My mother said the same exact thing when I got my period. The same exact words!

Star - I agree with you and that is why I support sex ed at school because not all parents are willing or able to talk to their children about sex. And the children have the right to be informed about their own bodies and about sex. They have nutrition lessons at school, is sex any less important in our lives?

czar - I plan to buy a nice set of books I saw at empik now that the girls can read. I am going to buy the girls book and the boys book. I don't even know why there are 2 books. All that info should be in one.

ds - Or the cabbage patch? My parents tried that one although I had never seen a stork or a cabbage patch in my life back then.

Chris said...

czar - If/when my kids ask about the "ice cream making" I am going to tell them exactly what you wrote. It's an excellent explanation. About the sperm, I saw some funny cartoons about that when I was searching for a picture. Sperm, looking at tonsils, says, "Hey, this looks different from the picture."

czarownica said...

Old medics' joke you reminded me about:

Young spermatozoids awaiting ejaculation. The old one teaches them: When you're released, you speed as fast as you can, and when you see the big sphere , you approach, you greet it "Hi, we are the spermatozoids" and when it answers "Hi, I'm the egg" the leader simply gets into it, and your job is done.

After ejaculation spermatozoids rush and eventually see 2 really big spheres. The leader greets as taught "Hi, we're spermatozoids" and when the spheres answer "Hi, we're the tonsils" he can only shriek with terror "Gentlemen, we're betrayed! We're in deep shit!"

Chris said...


Wojtek said...

I didnt have talk with parents about it. I didnt ask parents because i always wanted to find answer of my question. I ask only if i can't find answer or it is too hard to find. you perfectly explained it . Problem is how to explain homosexual sex :) . can you imagine this situation ?

daugher after school comes to mum to ask one question

daughter > mum , i have 1 question
mum > i listen to you
daugher > how it "works" when one boy came inside other boy ?

if you will have problem like this, show it :D

this pictures meybe are little pervent but worth to show

Chris said...

Wojtek - I explained homosexual sex, sort of. Our girls know that couples do not have to be male/female. It's a start.

Anonymous said...

I remember I had a book about pregnancy - even a few of them i think, several of them were really likeable.

Than, I guess, I never had. I mean I asked questions about details of periods and such a things as I was growing up, but the bigger picture was kind of known. From where? I don't remember. I only remember that I all children already knew everything when "family education" lassons started. So I don't know. I really can't tell how I got to understand what is homosexual sex (certainly that was not included in school education, we had films that were 20 years old) - just grasped it out of thin air I guess.

I know that they should definitely change a bit the way "nauczanie prorodzinne" as they call it i thaught. We had some mostly biology lessons abou "how it works". But about feelings? We had old movies made to teach us! They were riddiculous even for 5th graders.


Chris said...

Nina - Our Sex Ed lessons at school were part of Health class so we didn't get any talk about feelings either 😒 It was all ver medical/technical.

alicetheladybird said...

I suppose children get known about these things very early. I think I was about 6 when my 2 years older neighbour told me how the babies are made.
It's a pity that we have just 1 hour sexuality education per week (in the last half of the school year in the third grade of jr high school).
+ sorry for all the mistakes :)

Zofiusznik said...

Chris, thanks for this post. I've got two girls at home (one is 4,5 and the other almost 2) and a boy on the way, sooo... gee, that's normal for me that parents talk to/with their kids, that kids ask questions and need an honest answer. My girls (I'm refering more to the older one, but obviously, the younger listens as well, even if she doesn't do it consciously...) know the difference between male/female organs (gee, they see us naked.kind of regularly, I mean -nobody leaves the shower wearing a baggy wooly jumper, right?:)), their proper names AND the variations, they know how come there is a kiddo inside me (no "mummy, so you ate hiiiiim?!" part ;)). Kids ain't stupid, you can't (and.shouldn't) fool them, really. We talk about different situations, listen to news on the radio, watch films -hey, that's just life. Biedron here, Concita Wurst there, friends who have various preferences (if you can call it this way) - life generates the best opportunities for The Talk. The Talks, actually, as you've noticed.

I never had The Talk with my parents when I was.a kiddo, because there was no need for it -they explained things'on the go', there were sanitary pads in the bathroom, I askedmy mum what's that, when am I to use it, I saw here using them - and I was like four or five at that time. Dad was the cool guy, never feeling ashamed of talking about love, sex, puberty, doctors. I see now that it really was something. I remember I got a book with pictures of how babies are made and how they develop inside the womb (i still have it, my kids go through it sometimes) when I was six or seven, and that we had two copies of Graham Masterton's book about sex... both were the 'for women' editions, one highly useful hihihi... Discovered them when I was ten or eleven, my ears still get a bit red when I think about it ;) The earliest thing I can remember is my mum telling my older sister (she was like fifteen at that time): well, it's enough to scrub the floor on your knees when you have no pants on, and the man is instantly right behind you... lol. My hubby says it depends on the butt, well.... ;)) or when my mum wrote the message to my dad that my sis was supposed to deliver him upstairs. The message was: breakfast is ready, sausages are hot, not going to reheat them. He replied: my sausage's hot, too. And I ain't gonna reheat either. :-) (I hope this won't go round the internet... ;))

I think my parents were the funny type of people. Plus, I was the youngest out of four, so... . But my grandma? oh dear... I feel sorry for her kids;)

Chris said...

alicetheladybird - You are welcome here, mistakes or no mistakes. I am curious about those Sex Ed classes in Poland. I mean, who teaches them, what's the content. I just have in mind when we were talking about Ethics in the parent/teacher meeting and found out the katechetka would also teach Ethics. I wouldn't want my kids' heads full of sexual nonsense.

Zofiusznik - Your house sounds as interesting as ours ;) My parents were funny innaczej so I guess that's why I didn't get much of a talk. My father's mother had 8 kids and I don't think she ever talked to them about sex. My mother's mother had 2 hell-raising sons and my mother so I'm not sure how the talk went in their house.

I think we can polish up your parents breakfast routine, maybe make it rhyme?

Breakfast is ready,
The sausages are hot,
Not going to reheat them,
Although I love you a lot.

My sausage is hot, too.
That's nothing new.
And I ain't gonna reheat it,
So don't make me repeat it.

Zofiusznik said...

OMG!! looooove this piece of rhyme! Why haven't I thought myself about turning it into my favourite limeric?!

....and I've just noticed that, well.... that the sausage is something more meaningful here.... :)))

ds said...

Chris, is this you?!

Chris said...

ds- Nope, it's not me, but jeez it does sound like something I would write, doesn't it?

czarownica said...

Chris, I'm impressed with your rhyming skills! :)

Zofiusznik - my parents were kinda same. Bit stiffer maybe, didn't see my dad naked ever (or was too young to remember maybe), but they've done it similar, answering questions when they arose.

Chris said...

:) My mad poetry skills :)

Chris said...

ds - I read that whole post again. It's written by a man who obviously isn't the only American in Poland ;) He's pretty funny. How did you find that? Were you abducted by aliens? Is that a French thing?

alicetheladybird said...

Well, at my school katechetka teaches Sex Ed also. But she's ok and doesn't make it churchous (I love making new words, haha!). But If my katechetka from primary school taught Sex Ed we wouldn't hear anything else than Church's opinion about sex and having babies before wedding.
At my school we don't have ethics- you have to chose what do you want to have- religious education or ethics. One boy is Jehova's witness and he should have ethics, but school (idk about hiring people at schools) won't hire ethics teacher untill there are five ethics pupils/students. So, this boy, when his class has RE, goes on PE.
I don't know how does it work in the bigger cities, I live in really small village ;)

Chris said...

Hi alice - Here in the big city ;) it's not much different. Ethics is supposed to be arranged for even one student but that doesn't mean it has to be arranged at the convenience of the student. Ethics could be at 7 a.m. or 3 hours after your last class or even in another school. During religia our kids go to the day room and do their homework or play with the rest of the kids who don't go either.

My friend has just come back from her church pre-marital lessons. They went for a weekend retreat. The information the church tries to pass off as fact is shocking and more like science fiction. My friend finally couldn't hold her tongue any longer and almost didn't receive the "diploma" which allows them to get married in church. I have to say that in that case I would not want to get married in a church that supports such views, but that's just me. If that is even close to what my children could be taught in Sex Ed, I am afraid.