On the way to youth group this week Jessica says, Someone got their period at school today.
And ok, I know this isn’t what you’ve come to expect here. It’s just, the things they say! Also, parenting.
I let her talk and Oliver got more and more curious. “What’s that?” I let him know it’s something called puberty and it happens to boys and girls, at different ages and in different ways. That was enough for him until he asked for more. “What’s a period, exactly, Mom?”
“When a girl releases an egg. It happens once a month.” (Keeping the nitty gritty out of it, because, 7 year old.) Which automatically led to: GIRLS LAY EGGS?
And you guys, there was no stopping it.
We had the sex talk.
I said things like, you know how you have those two balls under your penis? Girls have two sacks inside their bodies that hold all the eggs! And the boy has to give the girl a “seed”.
He is staring blankly at me at this point. And I’m running with the garden theory because my mouth keeps opening and words keep falling out of it.
He stops me and says, I don’t really understand what you’re telling me. How does a boy give a girl a seed for a garden?
AND OH MY GOSH I TOLD HIM BOYS HAVE TO PUT THEIR PENIS INSIDE THE GIRL TO LET THE SEED OUT.
I have undone all coherent parenting up until this point.
I keep digging the hole, trying to explain my way around this conversation without Aaron. Somehow the explanation came to a conclusion and he just looked at me and said … “ok.”
Complete silence follows.
I am freaking out. I said things like, this is probably weird to think about now but some day you’ll enjoy this thing called Sex and it’s not just for making babies or “gardens” to grow … it’s for fun! And it’s beautiful. And and and……
He scrunched his face up and looked at me, “I didn’t understand anything you told me” and “That’s just really awkward to think about.” He was mortified. I talked about God’s plan and how our bodies were made. I did all the things while still trying to interject that our bodies are so cool! And someday you’ll understand! Also, sex is neat!
But currently I think he’s internalizing how to get over the fact that if he wants to be a dad someday (and he very much does) that he’ll have to use his penis and those magic little balls to build a garden out of invisible seed and somehow he’ll have to transplant that garden to a floating, microscopic egg that just happens to be inside a girl.
And can we really get on board with that?
No. No we cannot.
Clearly I’m done here. #dropsmic
(PS. Hey buddy. Someday when you read this you will be embarrassed that I wrote this and then published it on the Internet. I apologize. You are a class act. I just remember how different this conversation was with Jessica. How prepared dad and I were to sit down and talk about this. We practiced saying words like vagina and penis and sperm and then vagina some more so it would be natural, like we were talking about arms and legs. Just a piece of our bodies! Nothing shameful or weird to see here. We still don’t know what we’re doing as parents. This situation is proof positive that we’re trying our hardest to give you the information you not only need and want; but also to arm you with the correct information for you (and Jessica) to be able to make important decisions about your bodies and love and relationships. And mainly, about respecting yourself while also respecting other people at the same time. Clearly you’re both too young for such decisions, but you also live in a world where you, especially, are bombarded with images and expectations of what love should look like, act like, feel like. The horror of it all (for me) is that mostly you’re being told that love and sex and our bodies are commodities that we can freely exchange for empty feelings with no consequences.
When you were 3 you stuffed a sticker in your ear and it got stuck (sticky side in) to your ear drum. We had to take you in to the ENT and we had one last try to get it out before they were going to have to put you under. Dad and I were with you, you were afraid. We held your hands and I put my face right next to yours so I could hear what you were trying to say. There were these huge crocodile tears sitting in your eyes that you wouldn’t let go of and when I bent down to listen you were saying, over and over again, But I’m not brave! I’m not brave!
You were terrified and in pain and your mom and dad were there to protect you and keep you safe and in all of that, you refused to cry because somewhere along the line you picked up that you needed to be strong (and not cry or be afraid) in order to be brave. You were three. I was already crying but I started sobbing then, right there with the ENT, as he pulled the sticker out of your ear. As your dad held your little hand and cried too. And I wasn’t crying because I was afraid. I was crying because my beautiful son, who was nothing but brave in my eyes, who was vibrant and such an open little soul, who was strong and surprisingly intelligent, thought he had something to prove as a three-year old laying on an out-patient operating table with lights beaming down on him and all kinds of scary and new things going on.
I wanted to take you away from this world where you weren’t allowed to be honest with your feelings or curious about how they worked. I wanted to protect you from ever feeling less than brave and strong and mighty. I wanted to give you the confidence I saw in you and I wanted to keep you little so I would always be there to help you feel brave when you didn’t know how.
Every night when I put you to bed I started telling you, “I love your brave heart, your kind hands, and your beautiful mind”, like a lullaby of wishes to wash over you. If I believed it and whispered it in your ear enough, maybe when the time came you would believe it, too.
Sex is brave. Respecting sex is brave. Someday, you’re going to have to be brave like this. You’re going to have to make counter-intuitive decisions and more than anything I know you’re this brand of brave.
I want you to have the logistical facts but I also want you to be informed about the choices you have. This is touchy for me because of how I approached sex and my body, with amazing fear and complete condemnation. There are certain risks involved, and it is better to wait for a committed relationship (I’ll go ahead and say it: marriage) but you know what? Our bodies are human too. So here’s the facts … no matter what I love your brave heart, your kind hands, and your beautiful mind.