Salt N Pepa aside...I knew this day was coming, I just didn’t know when. So when last week my precocious official fourth grade daughter piped up from the back seat, “Mom, have you heard about 50 shades of gray? Sandy says it has lots of SEX in it. What IS sex, anyway?,” I clutched my steering wheel a little harder, took a deep breath and dove right in.
It went something like this:
Me: Yeah, honey, there’s definitely a lot of sex in that book! Where’d you hear about 50 shades of grey?
DD1: Sandy. She saw it on t.v. or something. So what’s sex anyway?
Me: Well, it’s something adults do, and it’s really special, a way to share your love for someone. It’s also how babies are made.
DD1: So it has to do with private parts?
Me: Yep, it definitely involves private parts.
DD1: But does it feel good?
Me: It can, when you know what you’re doing. That’s why it’s best to be sure you love someone and that person loves you, and why it’s good to be an adult before you do it.
DD1: But HOW does it work?
Me (deep breath, and after all she’s been talking penises and vaginas since preschool): well…you know how boys have penises and girls have vaginas? The penis goes into the vagina. And that’s how babies are made.
DD1: EWWWWWWW. That’s GROSSSSS.
Me: I guess it does sound gross. (trying not to laugh), but it’s a really good thing when you’re an adult and you love someone and that person loves you. And it’s best when you’re an adult, and you’re with someone who LISTENS to you, because then you learn together how to do it.
DD1: Yeah, that just doesn’t sound good at ALL.
Ewww mom, does that mean you have sex with A?
(Awkk!! Should have seen that one coming, lol): Yep, but don’t
worry honey, we never do that when you’re around, does that make you feel
: Well, like I said, it’s for when you love
someone, and someone who really loves you and listens to you, because you learn
together. And—that your person listens to you—that’s
how you know they really love you because they LISTEN. And that’s why it’s good
to wait until you’re an adult.
And by the way, don’t waste your time on high school boys when you get there, because they’re stupid and don’t know how to do it. (Sorry high school boys—but it’s true! Trying to set some boundaries for my DD1!)
is sex good or bad?
Me (oh my god I love my daughter with her great questions!!): Well, that’s a really good question honey. And sex isn’t good or bad all by itself. People make it good or bad. (pausing while I reach wildly for an analogy) You know how the earth is a pretty beautiful place, right?
DD1: uh huh…?
Me: Well, some people don’t take care of it, they make pollution and trash it, and that’s making the earth bad. And other people, like you and me, we take care of the earth, and we try to make it good. So it’s like that. Sex is good if we make it good, and it’s bad when people don’t take care and listen to each other.
DD1: Uh, okay…
Me: Because you know, when you’re an adult and you really love someone, then sex is a really good thing, plus you can make babies.
DD1: Oh gross, so that means you had sex with dad? Ewww!!!
Me: Well, yeah, but that’s why it’s important that when you and dd2 ask me if daddy and I still love each other, well the important thing is we really, really loved each other when you guys were made.
DD1: But, you can get sick from sex, too right?
Me (Holy shit, who has she been talking to?): Yep, you’re right, honey. It’s true, you can get sick, and that’s why you have to be careful, and why it’s good to wait until you’re an adult, and even as an adult, there are ways to protect our bodies.
And also, your body is YOUR body, DD1. It’s not okay for anyone to touch your body without your permission.
DD1: I know, mom.
Me: Well, you know what I said about people making sex ‘bad’? There are some boys in the world who think it’s okay to touch girls’ bodies without their permission and that is NOT OKAY. And the sad thing about those stories is—that the girls think it’s THEIR fault. And it’s NOT THEIR FAULT, okay? So if you have any questions about your body, you can always talk to mommy about it.
DD1: Okay, mom, I will.
Me (by this time, about halfway home, wondering if it's all sinking in, still holding onto the steering wheel, taking a deep breath): So what did you learn about sex honey?
DD1: Someday, be sure someone listens to me. And talk to mommy if I have any questions…
Me: And wait until you’re an adult…
DD1 (feel her rolling her eyes): I KNOW mommy, of course I’d be an adult. That’s gross!
Me (phew!): Okay honey, and anything else?
DD1: My body is my body…
can we turn on the radio now?
Finis—at least for now.
The next day I went to a bbq with Sandy’s mom and another BFF mom. Over wine I let them in on the whole story—especially because Sandy was the one who brought up 50 shades, so I’m sure DD1 would be talking all about it with Sandy, and likely the other BFFs. They cackled at my “earth” analogy, but hey! I was on the spot!! So I guess the SEX talk has begun.
Wish us luck! I didn’t want to lecture too hard, and at the same time, since she came to me, I wanted to be honest and open and still sink in a few pearls of wisdom into the conversation. I hope she knows she can always come to me for more questions in the future. I guess I should feel happy that she felt safe to ask me about it in the first place.
So…I hope this will be the first of many conversations… that DD1 will always feel safe to talk to me about this stuff, and if one day she doesn’t, I hope I have the opportunities now and in the near future to give her enough information to navigate the complicated world of sex. Awk!!!