I am a daughter. I am a mother. I have a daughter. And we are mothers and daughers because of one thing. Sex.
Sex is the undercurrent that pulls us all through life no matter what attitude we have toward it. No matter how prudish and judgmental and hung-up you are about sex, you still have to accept that you are a consequence of it.
For most people, the idea of their parents having sex is enough to run for the Maxalon because the idea makes us feel nauseous. But it's a fact of life and one that we must come to terms with if we are going to survive. The tricky part comes when parents realize it's time to have 'the talk' with their children. What to say? How to say it? How much to tell? What to leave out?
Sex education is becoming more and more the domain of schools and the internet. The more liberal parental discussions of the seventies and eighties seem to have been swamped by early exposure and a new more uncomfortable realization that the simple 'birds and bees' account will no longer suffice. I illustrate the point by mentioning that my eight year old daughter asked me yesterday what a 'gang-bang' was because she'd heard someone say it in the playground at school.
As I am yet to sit down officially with an appropriate book (prop or crutch) to have that talk with her, I was at a loss as to what to say. I blubbered and stalled and made flabbergasted arm movements and simply said that it was an inappropriate term and that I would explain more fully one day but not today. I copped out. I still think it is better to learn to walk before you run. How to explain a gang bang before explaining about the act of intercourse is beyond me.
My parents sat me down and gave me 'the talk' when I was about nine or ten. That is far too late these days and it occurs to me that I have been tardy and should have knuckled down and done my parental duty earlier. In some ways I have been guilty of stalling in the hope that much of the hard work will already be done for me by peers, school and popular culture. But with expressions like 'gang-banging' penetrating the playground, I must strengthen my resolve and get down to the awkward business of sex education. I have three older sons and managed that situation well (I hope). This is my first daughter and I am nervous and mortified about how to tell her.
I was a wild teenager who targeted grown men for my early sexual experiences. I had my first orgasm at about thirteen and enjoyed plenty more, embracing my own sexuality like a hungry explorer. Perhaps I am afraid my daughter will follow suit. But would that be so bad? Yes. If my sex talk goes anything like the one I was given. My parents were stilted. Embarrassed. Guilty. Uncomfortable. All the things I am feeling now. I am the polar opposite of a prude and yet I find myself in such an awkward spot.
She'll know I have sex with Daddy. She'll suddenly realize what we were doing that day she walked in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Will I tell her about oral sex? STD's? Contraception? AIDS? Abortion? Anal sex? GANG-BANGING?????
You know what? I'm NOT going to go the academic root (if you'll pardon the pun) and point to the Fallopian tubes, the Vas deferens and make it a baby-making lesson, like I got. My parents told me about sex but never once mentioned passion or desire or the thrilling ecstasy of orgasm. Nor did they warn me about the dangers, preferring to share the idea that abstinence was the only way to avoid pregnancy. (Yes. Catholic).
I think I will take her out on a mother/daughter day and let it all unfold naturally. I'll ask her what she knows and ask her what she would like to know about sex and love and babies and all the rest of it. She has an inkling as all children from pre-school and even earlier, do. Mainstream media and those soft-porn music clips that seem unavoidable while channel-surfing on the weekend, go a long way to suggest what it is all about. To some level I will let my daughter guide the conversation. I will tell her what she feels she needs to know and explain that it is not a one-off lesson but the opening of an honest and sharing life-long conversation between mother and daughter about the tide that influences us all. Sex. I will encourage her to talk about any issues with her father as well. To get a male perspective. My parents sat me down together for the formal 'talk' but I want to begin this as a woman and a girl talking informally.
I just hope the 'gang-banging' thing doesn't crop up but I suspect it might. I'll cope. I am proud of being a woman and a sexual being and if I can hand on that legacy to my daughter, that's a wonderful thing. I'll teach her to own her own sexuality and make of it what she will. I'll teach her to be safe, not scared. Curious without being uncomfortable. And I will let her know that I will answer her questions as honestly as I can.
It's not easy but it's better coming from me now than some ignorant conversation from a ten year old boy or worse........