When I was in the hospital, looking down at my newborn son for the first time, the last thing on my mind was having to teach him about sex. Yet within hours I was confronted with the circumcision decision—a choice that would certainly affect his sex life at some point. So even back then, I was forced to face the issue head-on. Pun absolutely intended.
Fast-forward nine years, and now that same baby is the oldest of four, with a lot of questions as to how he and his siblings got into my belly. My husband and I had success with dodging the question for a while, using creative diversions like cupcakes. But after being harassed long enough, we decided to give our son the answer.
To prepare for this, we thought back to our own first conversations with our parents about the birds and the bees. My husband had been seventeen when his dad had given him the much-delayed sex talk, a talk that had ended with the statement: “I’m paying for you to go to college, not to make babies.”
I had learned about sex at a much earlier age. I’d been nine when a boy got mad at me over a game of four square and told me to suck his dick. Very confused by this, I’d asked my mom to elaborate as we ate lunch at McDonald’s. The expression on her face had been one of shock, and her coloring had turned as white as Ronald’s face. An ill-prepared impromptu sex talk followed, and I’ve had a reactionary aversion to McNuggets ever since.
Keeping these unfortunate experiences in mind, my husband and I put our heads together and thought about the best way to explain sex to our son. We decided to discuss the ins and outs with proper vernacular, but let’s be honest: sex is so much more than just penises and vaginas, or vaginas and vaginas, or penises and penises. And we wanted our son to know that.
These were a few points we felt were important for him to understand:
Bodies are not toys.
Toys can be replaced—bodies cannot. Bodies are much more valuable, and don’t exist just to be passed around at show and tell. Bodies shouldn’t be gawked at, or bragged about, or photographed to share with friends. And this goes for everyone’s body, not just your own.
Private parts are private.
Anything that is covered by a swimsuit is considered a private part, and nobody should see it or touch it except for you. And yes—that includes your butt.
Sex is good.
There is nothing bad about sex. Sex is good; sex is great, sex is awesome when you have the right mate! And a good mate is someone you should have a mutual trust and respect with. This person may take a long time to find, and that’s okay.
Kids are not sexy.
I wish that pop musicians would test out their new singles by having 8-year-olds sing the lyrics. The first time I heard my son singing, “I’m sexy and I know it,” I immediately turned off the radio and explained that kids are NOT sexy, ever. Their mothers may be, but kids are not.
No means no, not maybe.
You may get a green light at some point, but the light might suddenly turn red without warning. NEVER RUN THE RED LIGHT. Stop immediately. Don’t argue with the light, or try and convince the light to turn green again. It is red and you must respect that.
How did the talk turn out, you ask? Despite my son being mortified to learn that his parents actually had intercourse to conceive him, he seemed to be satisfied with our discussion. Hopefully he will be able to come to us in the future if he has questions, but at the same time, I’m hoping it won’t be too soon.