The Birds and the Bees
A Tale of the First Sex Talk
The year was 1995.
Oprah was on during her normal after-school slot discussing conjugal visits in prison. Obviously, this is a very appropriate topic for a 9 year old. However, my mother missed the “mature audiences only” warning as she sat enraptured by her Daytime TV Goddess.
The audience was horrified by the goings-on during prison visits. There was video of inmates getting a little too much out of their visits with other prisoners’ children and family in the same rooms.
“Should prisoners be allowed to have sex?” Oprah asked a man with a Groucho Marx mustache.
“What’s sex?” I nonchalantly asked while munching a Cheeto and trying to figure out what was happening behind the blurred out rendezvous on TV.
My mom quickly snapped back to reality. She jumped ten feet in the air and clicked the TV off with a flourish. She then froze there next to our enormous console TV and stared at me for what seemed like days.
I began to sweat.
What have I done?
“Okay,” she said. “Come sit at the table.”
I sweated more feverishly since I knew the dining room table was reserved for laundry and serious family discussion.
What in the hell had I gotten myself into? Could I perform a convincing faint? Am I going to die?
After I resigned myself to my imminent demise and curled myself into the tiniest ball on the chair, my gorgeous saint of a mother started describing the fruit of nightmares. There was no censoring. No holds barred. She went for it guns blazing. She let me know what went where, why, and for how long. Her arms gesticulated. Her hands made motions that made me feverish. I am very glad the internet wasn’t a household item then, because I am certain there would have been photos, videos and an online therapist to wrap things up.
My blue eyes bulged. My stomach heaved. My senses were overloaded. I needed some Girl Scout cookies and a nap to deal with all that took place that afternoon. My little mind was on fire. Thanks a lot, Oprah.
Since that day in 1995, I decided I would start the sex talk a little earlier but in baby steps. I wouldn’t use words like “hoo-ha” or “biscuit.” I would just keep things a little more PG and increase detail as they got older and asked more questions. Like a true Millennial parent, I was an open book. Ask away, my sweet babies, ask away.
As in most things parenting, this was all so wonderful-sounding before actually having to do it. The internet advised me that the sex questions usually didn’t start until age six or seven, so I had nothing to worry about.
Until last week.
My four year old son was staring at his baby twin sisters and said, “How did you get those babies in your belly?”
After making a sound like I had been punched in the gut, I quickly recovered and started with the “Sex Ed for Four Year Olds” script I found on Pinterest. “Well, you see, a daddy has a seed, a mommy has an egg and the seed makes the egg grow. The end!”
I started discussing Spider-Man, my go-to change-the-subject subject and mentioned my secret stash of ice cream to really get the distraction rolling.
“But, wait,” he started again.
I wanted to throw up. Where the hell is my husband?
“Where does the seed come from?” he asked, his big brown eyes staring into my soul.
“Well,” I coughed. “It comes from inside a dad’s body.”
Please, God, let that be enough for now.
He then scampered away and I let out an elephant-sized breath.
But was that enough? Will he know enough? When do kids start talking about sex at school? You know what, don’t answer that. I don’t want to know. I will continue to ramp up the detail as the years go on, but 1995 wasn’t yesterday. I am no dummy and am quite aware that the advent of the World Wide Web has made our children grow up at Back to the Future speed. Hell, he probably already knows more than me.
When it comes to sex, I don’t think there’s a wrong way to talk about it. You just need to talk about it. Kids need to know you’re there and open to the discussion. My only words of advice are, be ready. Know what you’re going to say. Don’t think any age is too young. Otherwise, when they’re older, they won’t think they can talk to you about the real, important questions.
But what do I know? I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and cross my fingers and toes that I’m not his escort to the Maury Povich show in 2027.
Until next year, my friends.
Need a little help prepping for the “sex talks” in your home? Visit the Advocates for Youth Parent Sex-Ed Center, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), or get resources from American Sexual Health Association.
Want to have some books on hand to help explain how the body works or to help facilitate sex talks? Check out these picks.