Kids and Condoms

Chip labelled my pantry for me.

The Setting: On the way to Chip’s baseball game in the car, just the two of us. Chip is 12. It’s that moment every parent dreads, but knows will happen. I have to be honest, but not too graphic. I want him to have good info. But how much does he really need to know at 12?

Chip: “What’s a ‘condom’”
 
 Me: (slight pause to think “oh shit! This is it!” — deep calming breath, matter of fact voice. You can handle this, Cec.) “It’s this thing that you put over your penis before you have sex with a girl so that she doesn’t get pregnant, and you don’t give each other any sexually transmitted diseases.” (Simple, honest, not to technical. This may not be so bad.)
 
 Chip: (horrified look) “Ewww. You can get diseases from having sex???”

Me: “Yes.”

Chip: “Like what?”

Me: (Uh, oh. This could lead to bad places.) “Aids, Syphilis, Gonorrhea…”

Chip: (laughing) “Gonorrhea? Is that like diarrhea’s cousin?”

Me: “Umm, a bit less fun.”

Chip: “What kind of symptoms do you get?”

Me: (Not too gross now, Cec.) “Well, some make it so you can’t have babies, syphilis will make you go crazy…”
 
 Chip: “Ick, I’m NEVER having sex!”
 
 Me: (Backpedalling a little. You want grandkids someday. Just not too soon.) “You might not want to promise that. And if you use a condom, you’re pretty safe against a lot of this stuff. Not 100%, but then nothing is really sure, unless you marry someone who has never had sex with anyone else, and you have never had sex with anyone else, and then you both never have sex with anybody but each other. Like Daddy and me did.”
 
 Chip: “Oh.” (long pause) “Well, what are those things that you put on hamburgers? Cuz that’s what I was actually asking about.”
 
 Me: (stunned into silence for a moment.) “Condiments?!?”
 
 Chip: “Yeah! That’s it! It sounds like condoms.”
 
 Me: (Through my laughter) “You just forgot the ‘ents.’”

Moral of the story: Ask some leading questions before diving into The Talk, because it may not be what you think…..

Cecily is the single mom of five teenagers and soon-to-be-teenagers. She has now done The Talk so many times, that she has it pretty much memorized….and can’t remember who has or hasn’t heard.

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