Yesterday my oldest son (11) and his best friend tagged along with me on a few errands. We were out and about for probably about an hour. Within that hour, I learned a new hand gesture for oral sex, that a classmate asked one of their substitutes to do said hand gesture and asked him if he was a virgin. I also learned that some of their friends are dating (like kiss and actually go out on dates to the movies and whatnot). And at some point my son arranged my avocados to look like a penis and we all laughed. Then he laughed uncontrollably when I grabbed them because they were wrinkly.
Before you ask me what kind of mother I am… I want you to look back at my first sentence. My son is 11 years old. My mind and heart are in a really sad places right now. I wish that these instances did not exist. I wish that he was still naive and playing with legos or giggly because someone said doodie. Okay so maybe he does still do those things, but he’s not naive and these are not the first conversations we’ve had.
My son was nine, he was in second or third grade when we had our first conversation about sex. I told him only what I thought his little boy brain could handle and we both survived. A few days later he asked me another question about sex. We continually have these conversations. I have never made a big deal out of them. I take a deep breath and I answer his questions as best I can.
The only question he might regret asking me is the one that caused me to yell VAGINA in the car until it wasn’t such a scary word anymore. I didn’t yell it to embarrass him, or to scare him. I only did it so he wouldn’t be afraid to say it. It’s not a bad word. It’s not a swear, it’s not gross. It is what it is.
I screw up a lot as a mom. I really have no idea what I am doing most of the time but I know this, I know that if I didn’t bring this up with him, if I didn’t answer his questions, if I just avoided these conversations altogether my son would be relying on his 11 year old friends for information. I don’t think he would confide in me either. I’d like to think that if we can talk about periods, boners and sex that he can talk to me about anything.
This morning I woke up and reached for my phone. One of the first things I saw on my facebook feed was a video that one of my favorite authors had posted issuing an apology to her readers. Essentially a scene in one of her books got removed in a round of editing that made a later scene look as though the female character said no and the male character continued anyway. It was not intended to be a consent issue but because the earlier scene was removed it was.
The whole thing got me thinking that it was about the right time to have my son watch the tea for consent video. So today we went grocery shopping just him and I and we talked about a lot of stuff. We talked about school and his friends, we laughed about wrinkly avocados and some crazy hats. But eventually he brought up how he’s glad I said that my youngest son couldn’t watch Smallville with him because it had gotten pretty graphic.
Graphic like blood? Or Graphic like sex?
Like sex, it doesn’t show anything but it implies it.
… and here’s the thing, maybe it’s a silly thing to be happy about or maybe I’m just crazy, but out of this entire conversation the thing that stood out to me the most was that he said sex. He didn’t whisper it. He didn’t do a sideways glance at me. He just said it. He said it as easily and as normally as he would have said apple.
Then I had him watch the tea video while we shopped in Walmart.
Because the only wrong time to talk to your kids about sex is not talking to your kids about sex.