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.

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