We are born, naked, toothless, most of us bald - I was until I was 2, my mom used Elmer's glue to pop bows on my bald noggin so as not to be confused with a boy - and totally dependent upon others for our complete and total care.
Along the journey of life, teeth come in, we graduate from liquids to solids, we learn to walk, talk, identify colors, read, and a plethora of other day to day basics and foundational building blocks. As we mature, our level of learning advances and delves deeper into this realm we call "life". We learn about family, money, neighborhoods, government, continents, social hierarchy, mathematical equations, conjugating verbs, and ... it goes on and on.
This is all expected. This is how life is supposed to be, right?
As mother to two kids, this process is HARD. I celebrate my children overcoming milestones and learning new things. I do...But there is one thing I was not so excited to face.
That would be my kids learning about sex...
There I said "it".
(the above word will lead to all kinds of interesting traffic on my blog, eh? If you're a creeper you can leave now OK?)
The three letter word that my very conservative mother would never say and if she even heard it would mutter, "Oh Jesus!" after hearing such profanity.
In fact, the idea of explaining the birds and the bees was such a tough concept that I was 17 before she mustered up enough courage to say.... "There comes a time when every girl becomes a woman..."
This, of course, went over SO well with me at that point of life. There may have been some eye rolling, foot stomping and serious teen sassiness pointed in her general direction. Yup, true story.
The fact was... She was late. WAY too late. She lost the window of opportunity to talk to me about the "birds and the bees" or any other topic of importance really.
I can't blame her entirely though, my mother came from an era of silence.
Sexualized scenarios weren't broadcast all over national television for all to see. "Sex and the City" and it's cast of characters wouldn't have been shown in neighborhood theaters, actually, it might not have even made it to a slummy brothel. If a man committed adultery, he would have been ostracized from his community and his name spread through the mud. A woman with loose morals would have a hard time finding employment, friends, let alone an environment of opportunity. Innuendos would be shunned from mainstream society and sex wasn't spoken openly. Most TV shows from my mothers era would show a husband and wife sleeping in separate beds in order not to imply sexuality, not the partial nudity that you can get on prime-time television nowadays. Of course people had sex, but they didn't talk about it.
Fast forward 60+ some-odd years and sex is everywhere. The coined phrase "Sex sells" is demonstrated in full swing in our society and is unfortunately rubbing off on the youngest of generations.
As moms in today's mainstream over-sexed world, we have our hands full.
It makes me laugh (in a "that's not really funny or fair" kind of way) - as if we moms didn't already have ENOUGH to do - laundry, dishes, shaving our legs, managing chores and household tasks, grocery lists, healthy food researching, working out, dealing with kids, husbands, dogs, neighbors, family re-unions, summer vacations, math homework, science fair projects....
Moms (and Dads) are required to carry the load AND create a safe environment where our kids can come talk to us about their life's questions. Slowing down enough to really listen to the heart behind the chatter and truly see our kids when they come to us.
Me? Well, when confronted with a tough question in the midst of my busy day, I tend to sermonize for 20 minutes without slowing down, taking a breath and listening to what was really asked or said. This can be especially damaging when our kids want to talk to us about serious topics. Topics I don't really feel like they should have to deal with, talk about, know about, think about... Like sex, drugs, masturbation, porn, abuse, bullying, homosexuality...
But they do. They know. They talk. They deal. They think. Everyday. You might not think they do, oh, but they do.
It seems that sooner and sooner the "innocence" is taken from the kids of today. It's life. Sad, but true. There's no stopping it. No keeping kids from it. No moving to a commune to live off the grid like the Ingalls family, miles from town and bad influences like Nelly Olsen, sewing your own clothes, milking your own cow, butchering your own grass fed beef... What?? Ok, so I've contemplated it. Sue me.
We have to teach our kids how to have the right eyes to view these topics with, give them the tools to understand, process and hopefully navigate through this mucky area. Parents need to get their game faces on, snap the crotch-cups in place and get ready to go down swinging.
I remember the day that we realized that we needed to get our heads out of the sand and into the game.
It started out on a typical Sunday...
On our way home from church, music playing softly on the radio, Nate and I perched in the front seat, wearing our Sunday best, waving "goodbye" to friends in the church parking lot. (Oh yes, the picture of a perfect Christian family.)
T (who was almost 7) was in a full animated conversation with his little sister.
"So, there is a really bad "F" word..."
Overhearing and being curious as to what he was referring to - I really was hoping it was referencing the phrase "Oh Fudgescicles! Oh Freakazoids! Oh Fart!" - I hesitantly asked him what he meant.
Then the bomb dropped... a kick to the crotch (and we weren't ready - our cups weren't on).
The big, nasty, loathesome "F" bomb came out of that sweet, little mouth seemingly in slow motion.
That sickly consonant resonated in the interior of our car and I fought against a near panic attack while white knuckling the door handle. Nate looked like he swallowed his tie and I'm sure I was a shade of chartreuse green.
There was total silence in the car, even the radio seemed to know something big had just happened and was appropriately playing a soft melody that sounded like a funeral dirge. Appropriate, for our ignorant picturesque parenting facade had just died. Killed. Shot through the heart.
No going back.
Slowly, very slowly, as to avoid any sign of over reaction, and trying not to hyperventilate, we sat in silence for a few seconds. We took deep breaths and started the conversation about this taboo word. After much talk about using words that we don't know the meaning to, how society creates cuss words and how we represent ourselves when we use cuss words in everyday conversations, my son seemed to catch the point.
That is, until the next Sunday during children's ministry, when T raised his hands during prayer time and said "We need to pray that no one in our class says "F*#^(;"!! - it's not pleasing to God..." - Yes, I am the mother to that little boy that just dropped the mother-of-all curse words in Sunday school circle time... Parent's of the children in that class, I beg your forgiveness... Ya'll don't even know the conversations we had to have to clean that mess up. When a bunch of 6 and 7 year olds go home telling their parents the F word and who they learned it from... Fun times I tell you.
As time has progressed, I realize how that little conversation sparked something in my family and since that conversation, we've had many moments like that one.... F-Bombs. Where life comes rushing in, stealing innocence and sucks all the air out of the room for a minute. The F-bomb came into our car and with it came the realization that we can't hide from life and its influences - good or bad.
Each of us starts out the same way. Little babies. Dependent and innocent little sinners (what an appropriate oxy-moron). And, at some point, each of us learns about sex.
All of us...
Look around, every man, woman, teen, grandpa and grandma learned about sex at some point or another in their life. The question is, HOW did they learn about it? From whom did they learn about it? Was it unjustly learned through the vicious act of sexual abuse? From an acquaintance on the playground? A movie? Book? Pornography? Older brother? Sister?
Was sex something explained by a parent? In love and open ongoing conversation?
It's all in taking a breath and responding with our cups on to the F-bombs our kids and society drop on us.
What about you? How do you want your kids to learn about the S-word? Have you started the conversation? Who taught you about sex?
(Part 2 will talk more about how to talk to your kids about S--E--X and list some great resources).