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?