Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of parents everywhere more than The Talk. You know the one I mean. In the top 10 of memorable parenting events, it ranks up there right after sleeping through the night and potty training, and right before sending them off to college.
What I didn't realize before I had a child this age, was that there wouldn't just be The Talk. There would be many talks. And that it wouldn't get easier, from my perspective at least.
When my oldest son was about 10 years old I brought up the topic in the car one day when we were alone. He had never asked any real questions about the process, but he is an avid reader and knowledgeable about all things animal and reptile. And based on things he had said, I had the impression that he had some idea about the mechanics. We'd had vague discussions in the past that seemed to satisfy his curiosity, but I felt like he needed more information than he had asked for. I certainly don't want him getting misinformation from other kids or thinking that it is a taboo subject.
I was thankful that I was driving and that it was dark in the car so he couldn't see my face when he called it "mating," and I was thankful that I was able to play off my laughing as a coughing attack when he exclaimed, "Wow, you mean you and Dad did that SEVEN times?" And then he shuddered.
"Why did you tell me this?" he asked, as we pulled into our driveway.
"Uh, I thought you might be curious and interested."
"No, not really. It's not like it's any big deal or anything."
Oh my son, soon enough it will be a big deal, I thought at the time, such a big deal in fact that your brain will seemingly stop working and you will think of little else.
I'll be the first to admit that I am at a loss. Having grown up as an only child with a single mother, I am clueless about anything Y-chromosome related. I want my husband to step forward and talk more with him, and his younger brothers, but it doesn't seem to come up naturally in conversation for them either.
I am talking about more than just the mechanics. You know, the feelings and emotions and fantasies and dreams... Now I am shuddering and resisting the urge to put my hands over my ears and shout, "La, la, la, I can't hear you."
I don't think I am ready for this. Two-year-olds are much easier in retrospect. Their needs are simple. And yet, I haven't found a way to make him stop growing up.
So, Internet, I ask you: How did you handle these "talks"? Are books the way to go? Any tips or tricks? If I send them away to military school, will they tell them there?
Chris is a writer, artist, wife and the mother of seven children. She lives in an historic old house in New England that is perpetually under renovations.