My 7-year-old, all grin but no front teeth, had an important question. “Mama, did you do sex?”
Where’d that come from? Well, we “did” sex often and our little ones are close in age: 7, 8, and recently turned 10. Whatever the oldest learns the youngins do, too. For fourth-grade Health Day he was asked to watch “Always Changing and Growing Up: Boys Puberty Education Video,” sponsored in part by…Tampax? The video tells boys they’re going to smell, get pimples, and grow ball hair. It also describes how loins vary in size and suggests they blame Dad if they feel penis inadequate.
Even before Health Day, they had a surprising awareness about their bodies. They called testicles “pee-balls” and claimed that urine is held by a “pee stone.” I don’t know, I haven’t raised girls, maybe it’s different with boys? My guess is that they see their schlongs hanging, inflating and deflating for reasons unknown, and they start relating everything to their privates. As my youngest recently told me, “My penis is hard and my nose is stuffy.”
Since Health Day they’ve been looking forward to puberty. Statements that used to begin with “When I’m a grown up…” have become “When I get my Adam’s apple…” Also, the stork is a thing of the long ago past. As my 8-year-old explained: “We were swimming in your pee-balls. We’re lucky we made it. I just swam to the egg.” That’s deep. Made me think, “Man, maybe he really does remember being conceived.”
Still, I’m unsure my 10-year-old has a need for sex ed at such a young age. He sleeps with stuffed animals. He has an imaginary friend named Rick. He ran away from home (we found him two streets over) because he’s a superhero and wanted “to go to the city and fight bad guys.” He ain’t thinkin’ about no sex!
When I was a tween, a time when the teen pregnancy rate was double what it is now, my sex education came from HBO and Skinemax, among other avenues. My older brother once found a VHS tape mislabeled “When Harry Met Sally.” I don’t know who penciled in that title (Hi, Dad!), but it wasn’t a romantic comedy starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan. There was some serious bonin’ going on. I was intrigued but also freaked out. Outside of being shy, or possibly “scared of the pu**y!” as friends teased, it may be why I remained a virgin until college.
But these days, no matter how much oversight, the little ones can access nudie films and the like on demand. So early intervention makes sense. Even it’s just more about understanding changing bodies. So we got the boys some books: Guy Stuff: The Body Books for Boys, The Human Body, and The Boy’s Body Book. Yeah, overkill. That’s how it goes when Mom’s a teacher.
They got something from the books, lots of laughs and an understanding that everyone develops at their own pace. Most importantly, their question was answered: Yep, Mama and Dada did “do sex.”
As for what the details of what that means? We’ll save that for later.