By Gregory Keer
I thought I’d be good at explaining the birds and the bees to my children. My own parents left the heavy lifting to a read-aloud of the book Where Do I Come From? when I was 11. So I planned to customize the lessons for each kid’s personality, giving the right information without overdoing it.
Based on the first three talks, I’ve been a disaster.
“Benjamin knows what the ‘s’ word is,” my wife told me four years ago on one fateful evening.
“You mean the bad word for ‘poopie’?” I said.
“No, I think they’ve been giggling about ‘sex’ at school,” she responded. “You have to talk to him now.”
“Why me?” I groaned. “He’s eight years old. Isn’t this too soon?”
“If you don’t do it, his friends will, and he’ll get the wrong information,” she reasoned.
So, I sat Benjamin at the kitchen table with every intention of being a wise teacher.
“Do you know what sex is?” I opened.
Benjamin fought a smile and shook his head.
“You know that boys have penises and girls…have…vag…”
Then I whinnied like a ticklish horse. Benjamin laughed so hard, he fell off his chair.
It took me a while to regain my composure, but I managed to frame sex as something that happens when people love each other and want to have a baby. I saved the more complicated details for years later.
For his part, Benjamin emitted a few “eewww’s” that assured me he was far from sexual activity. However, he did have one question.
“Why are you telling me all of this?”
“Because we heard you were using the ‘s’ word,” I said.
“You mean the bad word for ‘poopie’?” he giggled.
Later, I told my wife I would never trust her interpretation of anything ever again.
Flash forward to the 2009-2010 parenting season, which has been punctuated by two sex talks.
The first one involved talking to Benjamin (11 at the time) about his changing body and view of the opposite gender. Once again, Benjamin was tight-lipped. So, wouldn’t you know, I pulled out a copy of Where Do I Come From? and read it to him. I’ve never seen the kid so engrossed in illustrations in my life.
Overall, it was a good introduction for the shorter talks we’ve since had regarding girls and the emotions that accompany adolescence.
Then, there was the dialogue I had with Jacob (8) after dinner one night.
“Daddy, I know what sex is, it’s when a man puts his penis in a woman’s vagina and she gets pregnant and that’s where the baby comes out, out of her vagina.”
Yes, it was all one sentence.
“Wendy!” I yelled across the house. “Can you handle this one?”
When she came in, Jacob hit her with the information.
“Mommy, I know what sex is, it’s when a man puts his penis in a woman’s vagina and she gets pregnant and that’s where the baby comes out, out of her vagina.”
Wendy took one look at me and said, “He’s a boy. You’re a boy. Talk to him.”
And she scrammed.
Jacob beamed at me from the couch. I sat down with him.
“Do you have any questions?” I asked, hoping he wouldn’t.
“Does it have to happen in a bed, or can you do it standing up, or on a table?” he rattled off.
I wondered if it was wrong to offer him ice cream just to retract the question.
“Most people do it in a bed,” I said, praying he wouldn’t ask how his mother and I conceived him.
“When I want to do it, do I just bump into the girl and say ‘sorry,’ then she’s pregnant?” he said.
“It takes a little longer,” I muttered.
“Does it hurt?” he wondered.
“It’s nice, usually…where did all of these thoughts come from?” I countered.
“I heard some of it from Franklin, but also from Rain,” he admitted. “Rain said if that’s what happens, she just wants to adopt.”
The comment was good for a laugh, but I cautioned him that it’s best to have conversations about sex with Mommy or Daddy since we have the most facts.
“Can we talk some more about naked stuff,” he continued.
“Not tonight,” I said with a grin. “But make sure you ask Mommy all about it tomorrow.”
That was fair. It takes two to make a baby, so there might as well be two making a mess of explaining how it happens.