So, this summer I realized in a conversation with my 9-year-old that perhaps she was hearing things about S-E-X. And then I realized, "SHE'S 9!!" Seriously, how do they grow up so fast?
In my mind I had planned to talk to my kids about sex between the ages of 6 and 8. There was a time that I could have spouted off more research backing up my decision, but right now....I can't remember the details. I just have been clear that I didn't want the talk to be a ONE TIME, really awkward, out-of-no-where thing; I didn't want them hearing about it from someone else first; and if an adult is ever inappropriate with them I want them to be able to have clear words to put around it.
I want this subject to feel a lot more approachable than it did with my parents. This is not a very high standard considering the extent of "the talk" for me was throwing a book on the subject in my direction and my mom - with a Cheshire grin and a high-pitched tone- saying, "What did YOU learn today?!" at the dinner table after that intensely uncomfortable 5th grade class.
"I don't know. Nothing." EW. I was NOT answering that question. And that was that.
I've been talking to my kids about periods, uterus-es, tampons, boobies, and pubic hair since before they were in Kindergarten. My 4-year-olds could tell you that "Once a month mommy has to wear a diaper in her vagina because a fluffy pillow inside her body comes out as blood when a baby doesn't land on it."
One day in the car last year my daughter said, "How come all the BAD stuff happens to GIRLS when they get older?" So true, sister....so true. And then in an un-thought-out effort to help her feel better I said, "Well, when Kyan gets older his penis will get bigger when he kisses someone he likes and it will be hard to hide....that's kind of awkward."
The two of them erupted in laughter and disbelief....AND THEN my 3rd grader told all her friends at school the next day. I, apparently, hadn't been clear that this was information only to be talked about with parents.
MOM-FAIL. I picked myself up, and dusted myself off.
The day after I realized my daughter MIGHT be hearing things about S-E-X I sat down with both my 9 and 7-year-old (HOLY CRAP, he's SEVEN!!) and gave them the scoop.
I think most of the screaming happened when I told them that men's penises get hard and go INSIDE the vagina.
They screamed so loud the neighbor outside asked my husband who was "doing yard work", aka HIDING, what was going on.
It's like the discomfort had to come out somehow. And so they screamed. And we laughed. And they yelled, "MOM!!!! WHY ARE YOU TELLING US THIS!!!!?" And we watched videos of the sperm uniting with the egg. And they were in awe. And then my daughter said, "So you and Dad DO THIS?!" And they screamed at the response. And they asked questions. And we talked about how it can feel really good. And we talked about how it can feel really bad. And we talked about how, like most things in life, it's complicated. And they screamed some more.
And I thought about how I wished I had a place to scream when learning the nitty-gritty details of the birds and the bees, and I was glad that they felt comfortable enough to vacillate between letting it all out and re-engaging in the discussion.
And now, every once in a while I'll check in to see if they have any questions to which my daughter booms a clear, "NO."
And, MAYBE a couple of times, I have used the threat of talking about sex to get them to stop fighting with each other. "SO, THE COUPLE START KISSING, AND THE MAN'S PENIS GETS HARD, AND...."
"MOM!!" What are you doing?"
"Oh, just talking about sex until you stop fighting."
And, like magic, they're a united front. Sibling rivalry be gone.
I know...I'll probably be paying for their therapy some day ;-)
And then I'm editing the picture below today for my online course for couples as my kids walked in the door from school (there is an exclusive $700 coupon code available for those who've signed up for my newsletter until FRIDAY):
And my kids come up behind me and my daughter says, "Ewwwwww, that picture's GROSS, Mom." I stared at the picture trying to figure out what she didn't like...I LOVE the colors...I think it's pretty...I'm confused.
And then my son pipes in, "MOM! I can READ!!!" and I get it. S-E-X.
But hey, no screaming...so I guess that's improvement?
Talking about S-E-X with your partner is HARD ENOUGH. Have you thought about how you'll handle the talk with your kids? What's your plan? If you've already done it, what worked and what didn't?
P.S. If you're interested in the online course for couples, don't panic. I don't expect the course to sell out immediately. However, the first 10 couples who sign up will get free tickets to my March 4th Date Night Workshop Series (the January event has already SOLD OUT). Sign up for the newsletter to be sent your $700 discount code later today. Registration ends this Friday, 11/25.