Friday, March 10, 2017

Let's Talk About Sex

What began as innocuous joking about sex has reached a crescendo.

Our first funny moment came a couple of weeks ago.  Eric was rubbing my shoulders and neck at dinner (my parents were over), and Asher asked what he was doing. I told him that my neck and shoulders were sore, and Daddy was massaging them to help them feel better. Asher asked, "do you want me to go upstairs and get that massager you keep in your nightstand?!?"

Cue long silence as my mom looks away, and Eric and I look at each other, wondering, "what could he possibly have found...?" We don't have any incriminating evidence, and Eric then awkwardly explained, "No, it's really a massager, with little plastic feet!"  The moment passed with no further comment.

Last week, I was talking to Charlotte in the car about what she would like for me to share with her class next week when she is "Child of the Week." I told her, "The other parents have come in to talk about something they know a lot about, or their hobbies."  She didn't say a word, but from the 3rd row of the van, Benjamin piped up, "You could tell them about sex!" While it is true that it is my job to educate people about sex, I told him that it wouldn't be appropriate for me to talk to Charlotte's class about sex, and that I would leave the job of sex education to their parents.

And, as we climb to our peak, yesterday I was cooking in the kitchen and Asher was in the family room. He asked, out of nowhere, "Mommy, do you kiss Daddy's penis when you make sex?"  Ummm, what? I answered him factually (when you use your mouth it's called oral sex), and asked where this had come up. Silence. Then, from Benjamin in the living room, "We read about it in a book we found in your night stand!" Apparently, while searching for the iPad (which I'd hidden on top of the refrigerator), they found a little book entitled "Sex Secrets" in my nightstand, and had used their improved reading skills to learn all about sex and the variety of activities one might engage in.

I proceeded to have a factual conversation about sex, and told Asher he didn't need to hide reading about sex, and that he could always ask me questions. I then emphasized that while I was happy to talk about sex in our house, he shouldn't discuss it with his friends or show the book to other people.  I then patted myself on the back for handling the situation with aplomb, and for normalizing sex and not making Asher feel ashamed for being curious.

I continued to feel good about myself all morning.  "Ha!" I thought. "Finally, an aspect of parenting where I have actual education!"

And then, the climax.  I left work around 12:30 and checked my email at a red light. I had one titled "Book" from his teacher.  "Wow," I thought, "she is really prompt about getting me reading suggestions for Asher!" (I had asked for some at our parent-teacher conference the day before.)

The text of the email had nothing to do with reading suggestions, though.  Asher had brought "Sex Secrets" to school, and proceeded to show his classmates page 71 (oral sex), and enlighten them as to the differences between oral sex and regular sex.  His teacher wanted to let me know, and asked that I not send him with the book again.

Total panic.  What kind of parent am I? Who did he tell? How much did he say?  I dashed off a reply to his teacher and let her know we could talk on the phone if she preferred.

Luckily for me, she was available to meet that afternoon, because the kids were at home after a half day.  My dear son had thrown me under the bus, told his teacher I GAVE him the book, and then told him he could bring it to school to read at dismissal time.  Also lucky for me, she seemed to have a good attitude about the situation, and laughed about it as she told me.  It seems as though the dissemination of information was fairly contained- the one classmate he was talking the most to seemed to be ignoring him altogether.  Asher's teacher said she had never seen him so excited or enthusiastic about anything.

He really is my son. I remember 30 years ago when I used to read the one line in my book about babies being born where it said, "your father put his penis in your mother's vagina." I remember being excited to tell everyone the big secret.  It was one of my great motivations for becoming a sex therapist.

Tonight we told Asher that there were consequences- he took that book to school even after I had explicitly told him the book and conversations about sex were private. And then he lied to his teacher and said I had given the book to him!  His consequence was no dessert tonight, and he has to give us $5 from his piggy bank for us to send on to Planned Parenthood so that other people can be educated about sex, too. And after he asked me tonight, "does Daddy stand up while you bend over to have sex?" I am pretty sure we are burning that book.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Recent adventures

Since my return from Paris, we have had some new adventures.  Although my working more means fewer hours at home, it also means we have some more income to go on adventures.  All 3 kids are getting so independent and easy that things don't require too much advance planning, and I know they will be adaptable even if things don't go smoothly when we get somewhere.

The weekend I returned- President's Weekend- Eric and I, with my dad, took the kids to Morris Arboretum.  The kids had been, but Eric and I never had. We brought a picnic lunch, and after we ate, Eric and I lay on the blanket in the sun while the kids ran around like little loons and my dad watched them.
Happily ignoring our children
 On Sunday, Charlotte had a birthday party, and I took the boys into Chinatown to go out for dim sum.  I sold them on dumplings, but they pretty willingly tried a number of new foods, and even liked them.  Asher liked steamed buns filled with an egg custard, and Benjamin liked a ground pork mixture steamed in a soy wrapper.  We brought home leftovers for Eric and the kids and I ate them before Eric could get to them.
Looking cool in Chinatown
On the way into town, we had a conversation about people of different colors and ethnicities, and how the color of a person's skin doesn't mean anything about what is on the inside.  We got into Chinatown, and Asher immediately said, "Why are there so many Chinese people here?!?"

The next day, Monday, I took the kids to the circus.  We've never been, and in my memory, I don't even like the circus, but knowing that it was our last chance to go, I felt it was mandatory to take my children.  I packed us all lunch (no $10 hot dogs for me, thank you), and we went to 5 Below to stock up on candy so that the kids wouldn't ask me to buy cotton candy at the arena.  We got a great parking spot, the kids were in happy moods, and we loved the whole thing.  Benjamin sat on my left and narrated the circus to me, Charlotte sat on my lap, and Asher sat on my right at the edge of his seat the whole time. The circus was significantly better than I remembered- in large part because they seem to have minimized the clowns and maximized things like aerial gymnastics.

Last weekend was fairly quiet- the weather on Saturday was spring-like and then Sunday we were back to winter.  Charlotte got a donation of "accessories" from our friends, and dressed beautifully.
Once she put my shoes on she was "ready for work." She told me she was "going to talk to my clients."
 This weekend, I went with my parents and all 3 kids up to New York City. On the recommendation of a friend, we went to see an exhibit on the Rolling Stones.  It was on W. 12th St in the Village, and as we pulled up, a car pulled out and we got a parking space right in front! It was just like in the movies, where they never seem to spend 30 minutes driving in circles looking for a parking spot.
The exhibit was a little crowded, and the kids weren't overwhelmingly patient, but it was fun. Asher's interest got piqued, and he has been asking Alexa to play Rolling Stones music ever since.

Asher watching the introductory videos 
Charlotte loved sticking out her tongue
After we had lunch, my friend Amanda came down to visit us, and we happened upon Magnolia Bakery. With no line (maybe the "feels like 19 degrees" windchill kept them away?).  I got the kids cupcakes as a treat!
A handsome young man inside a store I haven't visited since I was a young woman
 Then we rushed home because we were freezing! Today, after Hebrew school, we went to a carnival that was thrown to celebrate my co-worker's daughter finishing treatment for leukemia. Prior to our departure for the party, Benjamin walked in the kitchen and told me, "my life couldn't get any worse!"  First of all- this is karma biting me in the ass because I was always a melodramatic child. Second of all- I took him aside to look him in the eye and say this to him- we were about to go to a party for someone who had cancer. There might be other kids there who also have cancer, and might be really sick. Trust me, Benjamin, your life could get MUCH worse. Time to be thankful for everything that he has, including his health.  I also told him that if he has a need that I am not meeting, I'm happy to hear about it and hopefully make things better. But get some perspective.

At the carnival, my co-worker had gone all out, and the kids indulged in every piece of sugary sweet there. There was face-painting, carnival games, and inflatables. Certain almost-37-year-old parents may or may not have raced up the inflatable, almost trampling their daughter in the process. Not naming any names.
Benjamin with a cotton candy cone nose
This evening, we had a quiet evening at home, but Charlotte was shockingly kind and cooperative.  She stayed in with me while the boys went to the playground with Papa Nick and she peeled the carrots for dinner (plus a bonus carrot for snack), and then stirred the risotto. I have found the solution to the problem of risotto needing to be stirred- have your 4 year-old do it!
She has a beautiful unicorn on her forehead from the carnival
As we were cooking together, and talking, I was thinking about how it was a moment I would have dreamed about- at home, in the kitchen, with my own daughter keeping me company (I also want to say that I would be just as happy with a son in the kitchen, and I have had those moments, but Charlotte has been particularly prickly and disagreeable lately, so the contrast is striking). She then said, "Mommy, I am SO HAPPY to be cooking in the kitchen with you! I really like it when we do this together!"  All of these adventures have helped me to appreciate what good company my children are. I see the people they are becoming, and I'd choose them as a friend.