I guess now would be as good a time as any to write about having “the talk” with my kids….
As I was raising my son and daughter, I tried very hard to be open and honest with them. It wasn’t always easy to do—your first instinct is to go to the “Because I’m the parent and I said so” option. The hardest things for me were to admit when I had handled something with them in the wrong way and to apologize when I’d lose my temper.
But answering their questions about sex and the like wasn’t that difficult. I was, after all, a child of the 60s—we were the free love generation, right? And, in spite of my Catholic school background (where sex-ed consisted of Sister saying “If God is willing, a man and a woman will conceive a child.”), I was relatively comfortable discussing things with them. Their dad was very hurt when he realized they were always coming to me with their questions—until I told him some of the things they were asking…. “Oh, … um, …. Yeah—you can handle that.”
First thing I did was tell them the proper names of their body parts when they were about 3 and 4—cause, ya know, all the child rearing books say that’s what you should do.
Clearly, the authors of these books don’t have any on-the-job experience. I am in the store one day, browsing, when I realize that my adorable offspring are not standing obediently at my feet. I immediately whip around scanning the store for them. Quickly I spot my son (the 3-yr-old) peeking up the skirt of a mannequin. Before I can make a move, he proclaims at the top of his lungs “M, I can see the lady’s ‘gina.”
Now, this was in 1979. Things were still pretty uptight. I am all of 26 years old and all of these little old ladies are looking at him appalled. I have to admit that I was tempted to just take his hand and say “Let’s go find your mother little boy.”
Alright, now we jump ahead about 2 or 3 years and the questions start…..
My tactic whenever they asked “What is such-and-such?” was to respond with “Well, what do you think it is?” That way I could suss out exactly where their little brains were on a given topic. It worked very well. I can still remember my 6-yr-old daughter’s response to “What do you think gay means?”
“Guys who like other guys.”
Yeah, that about sums it up, I replied. (I didn’t know about any of this stuff til I was 16 or so!)
When my son was about 12, he was on a car ride with his dad and he was telling him about a girl he liked in school. My husband later relayed the conversation to me:
Dad: Is she cute, bud?
Son: Yeah! Only problem is G likes her too—and he’s my best friend.
Dad: Yeah—that’s a tough one….. But girls come and go; your friends are important. Don’t mess up a great friendship over a girl….
Son: Yeah…. But I think she likes me more—I’ve gotten more off of her than G.
(Dad almost crashes car, cause he knows what he meant when he said that about a girl….)
Dad: (gulping, but trying to sound calm) What do you mean, bud?
Son: She gave G a granola bar, but she gave me a granola bar AND a pack of gum.
(Dad’s heart starts beating again.)
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