Let Me Tell Ya ‘Bout the Birds and the Bees and … Porn

Let Me Tell Ya ‘Bout the Birds and the Bees and … Porn

porn_pinAbout a year ago, I had to have an on-the-fly discussion about how babies are made with my 7-year-old after he’d heard about Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s labor experience described during an NPR profile. (He wanted to make sure boys didn’t have babies because it all sounded too painful to him, and, well … having done it, I do see his point.)

But in quickly going over the mechanics of the sperm joining the egg and then growing into a baby as we drove to school, I was able to lightly skip over the part about how exactly sperm get the opportunity to make the egg’s acquaintance.

Of course, I absolutely meant to tell him. When I’m not writing about parenting, I often write about sex, an occupation that requires a certain immunity to embarrassment and a resistance to easy blushing. So it wasn’t that I was feeling squeamish. My husband and I are casual about nudity in the house. We’ve always used real words, not cutsey euphemisms, for body parts — which has led to many discussions about why Mommy doesn’t have a penis but the Kiddo does. And when the Kiddo discovered his, we pointed him to his room where he could explore it in private.

Still, in that totally-caught-off-guard moment prompted by the Morning Edition profile of New York’s junior senator, I had about five minutes to cover the baby-making basics before we pulled into car line at school. I figured the Tab A-Into-Slot-B discussion would keep for another day. That day just came sooner than expected when I stumbled onto my son’s iPad browser history a few weeks ago. And by “stumbled onto …” I mean after my son came to me, nervously asking how to erase his history, and I grabbed the iPad to get a look at what he wanted to hide.

One guess what I discovered? Nope, not an App Store buying spree with my password and credit card. Or the stealthy purchase of one of those Lego sets that come with 10,000+ pieces and cost about the same as a Ford Focus. Though in hindsight, those might have been preferable.

If you guessed PORN, congratulations! You are our grand prize winner! Oh yes! My 7-year-old, who still sleeps with a collection of stuffed animals, securely sandwiched between his daddy and me, had Googled, found and watched the kind of sexual fun-and-games I’d hoped he wouldn’t be privy to until an adventurous girlfriend whipped out a copy of The Kama Sutra. Like in college.

And yes, before the Hyperventilating Chorus of “But Where Were Your Parental Controls?” gets into full-throated swing … yes, we did enable the controls. They worked fine … until an update of the iPad’s operating system restored it to factory settings. You know that Oh fuuuudge! moment in the original Jurassic Park when the paleontologists realize the electrified fence corralling the T-Rex and velociraptors is no longer electrified? Yeah. That’s about how I felt when I discovered that the protective barrier separating my oh-so-curious third-grader from the hardcore sexual imagery of the the wild, wild Internet had been disabled during reset. And fudge was not quite the word rolling through my limbic cortex.

As incredibly comfortable as I am with any aspect of sexual discussion, I had still rather expected that my very first sex talk with my 7-year-old would be more along the lines of “When a mommy and a daddy love each other and want to make a baby …” and less “This is why you need Backdoor Glide and a safe word.”

But as they say in poker: “You play the cards you’re dealt.”

So, this being breakfast time — why these things must always come up right before school, I would truly love to know — I pulled up a toaster-waffle and dug into the conversation.

“Can you talk to Mommy about what you saw on the iPad?”

The Kiddo lowered his eyes. Silent chewing was the only response.

“Mommy’s not mad. And you’re not in trouble. But we need to talk about what you saw.”

More chewing. Followed by a silent swig of chocolate milk.

I felt like the district attorney on Law & Order. Permission to lead the witness, Your Honor?  Oh, this so wasn’t the way I wanted our birds-n-bees convo to go. But it was the way it was going, so I took a breath and started with the easy stuff.

“Did you see people kissing?”

Cautious nod.

“Did you see people naked?”

Another cautious nod.

“Did you see people touching other people’s private parts?”

More nodding.

“Did you see a penis going into a vagina?”

Still more nodding.

“Did you see a penis going into a mouth? Into a tushie?”

And more nodding again.

Gradually (and somewhat one-sidedly, with me doing most of the talking and him doing most of the nodding), we worked our way through explanations of garden-variety sex and its spicier variations. No, fellatio and anal sex weren’t words I particularly wanted my son to have in his vocabulary at this stage of life, but it was better that he heard the explanations from me than tried to puzzle out what was going on on the playground with his pals.

I told him that the videos he watched were called pornography … that they were inappropriate for children … that sex was something for adults only.

“Like vodka, Mommy?”

“Exactly.”

I told him that sex wasn’t something adults ever did with children (and if anyone tried, he should run and tell me immediately) … or something he should try out with his friends … or, for that matter, share about during Morning Meeting Time at school.

And then I figured I’d done all a mom could do. I couldn’t make him un-see the videos, so I did my best to explain what he’d seen and give it some context. From other things the Kiddo’s told me, I know that sex is being avidly discussed on the playground. And even in an open “ask me anything” household, kids pick up that there’s a lot of taboo around this subject, so they share what they think they know amongst themselves. And more often than not they get it wrong — evidenced by this explanation the Kiddo gave when I asked what he thought sex was: “That’s when you stand in front of someone with your clothes off.” Even Clinton wouldn’t try that one.

So, no, this wasn’t at all how I wanted our first sex talk to go. Not by a long shot. But I take some small comfort in this: When the kids take a break from jabbering about Minecraft to share what they think they know about sex, at least my Kiddo has the real facts.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten a real education in resetting those parental controls.

 

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