I’ve been thinking a lot about sex lately – sex education that is. My younger son is heading off to health class next week where they will hear, among other things, the “sex talk.” I just don’t know if he needs any advance prep. For all I know he’s quite knowledgeable about the whole topic – he does have an older brother after all — but I feel like I am shirking my duties as a parent if I don’t at least attempt to sit him down and discuss the birds and the bees.
Why, you may ask, would this job fall to me if I have a husband who lives with us? Well, as it just so happens, I am not the only adult in the house who sucks at being a parent. Maybe that’s not fair but, at the very least, my husband sucks at talking to our boys about sex, which means that that discussion falls to me.
That doesn’t seem fair either. I’m a girl and they are boys – a boy should be giving the boy sex talk. He’s already familiar with the parts and the stuff that boys do that, thank God, I’m not privy to. But, alas, he has failed.
Let me back up a bit. I had the discussion with our oldest son by accident, if that’s possible, when he was in 4th grade. I didn’t go buy a book and pick a time to have “the talk”; we were just sitting at the kitchen counter talking about nothing when he turned to me and said: “What does the “F” word mean?”
He explained that he wanted to know what it meant because if he wasn’t allowed to use it he should at least know why. I decided that if I was going to tell him what “filed under carnal knowledge” actually meant, in all it’s incarnations, then I should start with the most popular explanation. So, I launched into a discussion about eggs and sperm and all the technical stuff.
This was met with a fair amount of “icks” and “gross” and the uncomfortable question of “Have you done it?” But, all-in-all, I thought it went well. I just slid that discussion in and when he stopped asking questions I promptly stopped talking.
Fast forward three years.
My husband and our younger son were driving somewhere when our youngest (who was then 8 years old) asked my husband where babies come from. To his credit, he started out strong. He mentioned the egg but never really got past that. You see, at the mention of an egg, our son asked, “you mean like a chicken?” and like all cowardly dads faced with a long and embarrassing discussion about sperm and oral sex and wet dreams he answered, “yes! Just like a chicken.” And that was that.
So, here I am trying to figure out a way to start this discussion. I considered bribing our 15-year-old to do it (bad idea and a total cop-out); I considered buying a book and leaving it on the kitchen counter (“oh, where did that come from? Let’s talk about it…); but, finally, I’ve decided that the best way to handle this would be to let him hear about it first and correct it later. Bad idea, total cop-out? Maybe, but I won’t know until it’s too late. It could go something like this: “yes, there is an egg…yes, just like a chicken.”
Good thing he’s my last kid.
Connie Lissner is a writer, lawyer, wife and more importantly, the mother of two boys. She was once told that a child’s job is to constantly push a parent’s limits. She assures you that her boys do their job very well. She, in turn, is trying to do her job of not totally screwing them up. She navigates the slippery slope of motherhood one day at a time.