Back in 2008, my darling son hands me a paper after school. It’s about the school’s Fifth Grade Puberty Education Program. So, that’s what I say, “Oh, it’s about puberty.”
To which the boy says, “I can already feel the fuzz coming! My winky’s going to have an afro!”
Ah, the joy of open communication!
But seriously, I am happy to have this kind of openness with my children, because big changes really are ahead for our little family, and I want them to continue to be comfortable in their own skins as they too — as much as I want to deny it — enter into that crazy world we call sex and our fellow human beans.
And these are the things I want them to know:
1. Sex is a choice. Always. They should not feel the need to conform to the influence of peers to engage in sexual activity because “everybody’s doing it”. Because not “everybody” is. They should not feel pressured because their partner du jour insists that, if they loved them, they would do this. Real love doesn’t ask that. Real love respects boundaries and waits until both partners are ready.
2. Protection is not optional. If you’re going to engage in sex, then there must be preventive measures taken. For him and her. Pills and condoms. Every single time. No pray and pull. No lemme just put it in for a second. No I’m allergic to latex, baby. It’s a gamble that’s not worth taking. Pregnancy aside, one of the biggest things being ‘shared’ among teenagers these days is STDs.
3. Take responsibility. With sex comes a boatload of responsibility beyond just wrapping that rascal and popping that pill. It’s the mature decision to not take advantage of a girl because she’s drunk off her ass. It’s providing for a baby, should you create one (and I don’t condone just getting married because of it, but that’s another blog somewhere). It’s respecting women as more than somewhere warm and wet to stick your dick. And being honest enough with yourself, ladies, to have brains to back up the T&A. It’s not talking shit about a girl in the locker room or a boy in our bitchy little girl chat sessions just because we think it makes us look better, cooler, and somehow more adult.
4. Consent is never implied. On either end. Because there are enough pressures in the teenage world to assume that the guy you straddle at some party or the girl who lets you stroke a breast outside her sweater really want what you’re offering. Always ask, before the clothes start coming off. And ensure that your partner is sober, because if they are altered in any way — drugs or alcohol — then they cannot give consent.
Which leads to the whole ‘don’t cry wolf’. Rape is a serious crime. Just because some boy pisses you off, or treats you in a way that makes Daddy wanna sharpen his swords because his parents didn’t teach him any better, is no reason to suddenly say that he took advantage of you. It makes it harder for the women who actually are raped, and they really have enough shit to go through.
5. Pick your partners well. I don’t want either of them to do what I did and learn what bad sex is. I want them to love themselves enough to not settle for people who don’t treat them with respect. I want them to know that, even divorced, their dad and I have their backs, and there’s no need to try to fill any parental void with empty sex, because if we do our jobs right, there won’t be a hole to fill.
But a good partner doesn’t pressure you to have sex, alienate you from your family and friends, abuse or neglect you, or emotionally manipulate you. A good partner respects and loves you for who you are, supports your dreams and is conscience of your needs, wants and desires.
6. Sexual orientation is a personal, private thing. If either of my children turn out to be homosexuals, I want them to understand and believe that there’s nothing wrong with that. But, due to the rampant stupidity of others, this is not something they should necessarily divulge during high school. Not out of shame, but because it’s nobody’s frickin’ business if my son likes boys, my daughter girls. And should it come out, should they decide to make it known, then (again) we will be there to back them up, keep them as safe as possible and make enough noise that messing with them is not an option.
7. Masturbation is normal and allowed. With the obvious addendum that too much of a good thing can be bad, we have always told them that there’s a place and time for such activities, and this is something that should not be shared or displayed in public. For boys, it seems to be the running joke, him staying in his room (or the bathroom) too long, icky socks and sticky skin mags. For girls, it seems to be that hush hush thing. We don’t talk about it (no one sure as hell talked to me about it, and I’ve been doing it since I was twelve!), because ‘good girls’ don’t do things like that. *rolls eyes* Whatever.
8. Communication, communication, communication. Never be afraid to ask questions. Take any advice you get from your friends about sex with a giant bag of salt, because, see, they’re still trying to figure it all out, too!! If you can’t talk to me, then talk to another (safe) adult. We don’t have to have douche commercial moments, but there’s very little I don’t know about sex and everything related to sex. And if you manage — as I imagine my kids will — to think of something I haven’t, I have a host of like-minded friends who can help you out, too!
9. Sex is an equal partnership. A girl should never expect a boy to do all the work, and neither should a boy expect a girl to sing his praises just because he found the right hole. It should be a mutual pleasure, not a chore one does to keep your partner around, because heaven forbid some ‘whore’ walks in and ‘steals’ him/her away. Be wary of a man who expects head, but won’t return the favor. Or a woman who asks you if you love her in the middle of it. Sex should come with no expectations, a few giggles and lots of body relaxing, endorphin-induced fun. Which leads me to my last point for tonight…
10. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving sex, as long as you are engaging in sex sincerely and without the abovementioned need to fill some dark hole in your soul. Not that I’m encouraging either of them to be nymphos, but sex is important. And the ability to enjoy coitus as a connection to another soul, not just another hash mark on a bedpost (or in a journal), is something that will make their lives better, richer, fuller, because they are in touch with themselves (literally and figuratively) and able to make better decisions about that part of their lives and not settle for less.
But here’s hoping that my ex-husband and I have cultivated enough of a relationship with our two kids to help them navigate this new adventure and avoid many of the pitfalls that can hinder them.