Life Jacket

A few days ago Luke found the book I bought to explain the birds and the bees to the kids.  I walked into the bedroom and he was reading it.  “Well,” I thought, “I wasn’t planning to bust that out this week (the week we are preparing to move), but I guess today’s the day.”  So, after teeth were brushed and jammies were on, we settled in to a read a good book.  About sex.

The particular book I bought is called It’s Not the Stork, by Robbie H. Harris.  Lily wasn’t much interested after a few minutes, but Luke was enthralled.  Though he said it was gross a LOT, and made funny faces when I had him repeat key words (scrotum, vulva, anus), he truly wanted to know how babies are made.  And when we got to the part about actual sex (handled wonderfully in the book), he said “Yeah, what IS sex?” He’s heard the word a lot, but hasn’t had a clue of it’s meaning.  He walks around singing “I’m sixteen and I know it,” feeling super cool –  a misunderstanding we haven’t corrected.  Now the curtain has been lifted, which is good, but it makes me a little nervous.

For Lily, it was just another lesson in bodily systems, like learning about how humans breathe or the digestive tract.  And it seems that that’s the better way to start.  Before it carries the weight of misinformation, or feelings about the opposite sex, either attraction or disgust.  It’s just normal, how God made it all to work, how we come into the world, why boys’ and girls’ parts are different.  Just information.  But Luke is past that.  He’s on to wondering if he would ever want to do that himself.  He stated emphatically that he never will.  Awesome.  He can just stay in that mindset for a long, long time as far as I’m concerned.  But he won’t.  He’s always liked girls – his best friends are girls – and he’s wanted to marry a steady succession of them since he was in kindergarten, with his bestest friend as the backup through it all.  I love that he loves his friends, that he appreciates girls, that he’s sensitive to their attractive qualities.  But oy.  We’re in trouble when he gets older.  When he doesn’t cringe when someone is kissing on tv.  When his body responds to girls as much as his heart does now.  I’m terrified of puberty.

But the book was a good start.  I learned that I should introduce it early with Mae.  Just get it out there as part of her understanding of the world.  We’ve always used the correct names for the main parts, but we don’t much discuss all the intricacies of their privates.  I guess we will.  “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes.  And anus.”  That isn’t quite as cute.  Maybe I won’t put it to music.  I’m interested, and a little nervous, to see how Luke’s view of the world changes now.  What he notices that he didn’t before, what he picks up in songs and tv and the sex-crazed culture that surrounds him.  If only I could keep him in a bubble.  But I can’t.  And ultimately that wouldn’t help him in life.  So we’re jumping in, head first, hoping he can navigate the waters.  At least now he has a life jacket.  He knows the big secret.  Watch out, world, here he comes.

One Reply to “Life Jacket”

  1. Oh boy. I remember those conversations and how much I wanted to make it all palatable for both my children and myself and what a razor-sharp line that was to walk! I feel your sudden intake of breath and your jump onto the hope-this-all-works-out ride… My heart is with you, mommy!

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