“My daughter rushes to the car as I’m picking her up from school “Mom. Is it true? Humans have sex not just to have babies but just because they want to? AND THEY ENJOY IT? GROSS!” I shouldn’t have laughed. Laughter is always wrong response to tween angst.”
My kids are officially tweens, and as such they’ve become sex fiends almost overnight. We used to watch movies together and at the slightest hint of a kiss—regular or ‘naked kissing’ as my son dubbed sex, they’d cover their eyes and yell “tell me when it’s over.
“We thought we’d been doing a fantastic job. We live in a forest on the edge of a campground with just Hulu and Netflix to keep us company and my IT husband has the Internet on kid lock down.
But anything you do to prevent the onslaught of puberty from entering your house is kind of like preparing for a hurricane by taping up your windows with off-brand Scotch tape.
We’re a nice atheist family whose kids believed in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, leprechauns till they were 10. They believed in everyone and everything but Jesus. My kids have lesbian grandmothers and aunts. If you are outside the mainstream, this is the family you want to be in. But we don’t talk about sex much.
My daughter learned about all issues surrounding sex when she accidentally went to church with a friend during a sleepover. In two hours she learned about damnation for premarital sex, abortion, and to hate LGBTQ. That afternoon, since I hadn’t vetted the family properly, I taught my daughter about the joys of stress eating while fielding difficult explanations regarding sex and zealous Christians.
“They are overly concerned with what other people do with their bodies,“ I offered by way of explanation.
“Mom, do you know anyone who has had an abortion?”
“Most of my friends who graduated on time, babe,” I said. “Just think of it this way. Your mom has no qualms with abortion and she knows what social conditioning is. Which means I CHOSE to have your ass.” Then we ate too much cheesecake together.
My son felt obligated to tell me he was straight one afternoon while we were driving to Quincy. He had a hunch I wanted a gay son.
“I’m not gay mom. I like girls. I’m straight. I mean, I’m not cowboy straight. But I’m straight.”
“In my day that was called ‘Metrosexual.’ Maybe you’re just geek straight.”
“Yeah, “ he agreed, “Geek straight.”
I pretend like I’m in control or something. We protect our kids from so many things. But there’s always that one kid on the playground. You know the one.
My daughter rushes to the car as I’m picking her up from school “Mom. Is it true? Humans have sex not just to have babies but just because they want to? AND THEY ENJOY IT? GROSS!” I shouldn’t have laughed. Laughter is always wrong response to tween angst.
“WHAT?” She gasped as she threw down her backpack. “Even you and Papa?”
“How do you think you got here?”“I just thought you guys did it those two times to have us and that was it.”
“Nope. A few times a week—your entire life—and even before that.”
“AAAAAAAARRRRGH.” She ran to her room.
I admit a perverse joy in freaking her out. She was never an easy child to discipline. Scoffed at idle threats and time outs. This embarrassment is all I have.
“Clean your room or I’ll tell you where it’s happened in this very house.”
“I’M CLEANING,” she yells and slams the door to her room. Later she comes out while I’m making dinner.
“At least gay people aren’t disgusting. They don’t need to do gross disgusting things like you people do.”
My mind drifts over to episodes of the L-Word. Melissa Ferrick playing “Drive” in the background. I think of my buddy Clark before he met Mr. Right. I started laughing again.“Oh no! Gay people too?! Is the whole world disgusting?!”
“Not me. I will never do those things.”
“Good for you.”
I adore the safety of her logic. Sixth grade and she’s not boy crazy like I was. Hallelujah.
My husband grew up with religion and silence on sexuality, so he hung out in libraries. He made sure our household had a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves, not me. He checks in with both kids and gives them the real deal. I admire and respect him for it.But he’s not the one picking them up after school.
Recently at pick up, I can tell my daughter has been disgusted by something yet again. Her face is scrunched up like she’s smelling skunks or dog poo.“Mom. You know that kid, David W.? You know what he said adults do? They lick each other, mom. Down there! Is that true?”
Now work with me here. I only had about 15 seconds to come up with a proper response.
“THAT’S THE WEIRDEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD. ARE YOU SURE HE WASN’T TALKING ABOUT DOGS SNIFFING BUTTS OR SOMETHING?
(When talking to tweens. The word ‘butt’ buys you time while they giggle).“So you and Papa have never done that?” She asks.“Absolutely not. Depraved animals! That’s disgusting. I’m sure someone does that somewhere but not anyone WE know.”
She let out a breath of relief. All was right with our world. My son sat in the backseat in grateful silence. The tween girl wants to know everything. The tween boy just wants to talk superheroes and Legos.
My husband wasn’t pleased with my lie. He told me that I’m setting her up for guilt and shame as a young adult—less than 7 years down the road.
I maintain I did the right thing. I’m not stupid. I can hear her now on the playground “Gross! My parents do that licking thing too!” I’m sure all the other kids’ parents who were asked that question vehemently denied sexual custom. I wasn’t about to be gawked at by middle-schoolers as ‘THAT’S THE LICKER MOM.’
The husband doesn’t understand that. When dealing with alien sex fiends, you gotta lie and keep your cool.
Margaret Elysia Garcia lives in exile from her southeastern Los Angeles roots in the far northeastern corner of California where she’s learning to live a survivalist existence without high speed Internet. She’s the author of the short story collection Sad Girls & Other Stories on Solstice Literary Press. Her play The Adventures of SadGirl: Superheroine premiered at the West End Theatre in Quincy, California, in September and will have a run in Reno, Nevada this fall. She’s a contributing editor for the blogs Girl Body Pride and Parenting Squad as well as her own two: Tales of a Sierra Madre and Throwing Chanclas. She works as a reporter for Feather River Publishing and hosts a radio show Milkshake & Honey on Plumas Community Radio (www.kqny919.org).