Friday, March 6, 2009

The Birds and the Bees - Part 1


The only thing my parents’ generation hated worse than sex education being taught in the schools was teaching it themselves at home.

My mother, who bore 7 children, was so uncomfortable with the topic that she outsourced it to my older sisters, who handled about as competently as most subcontractors. Any time I had a question they couldn’t answer, they just made something up.

This may be why, as a teenager, I loved to torture my mom by plopping down on her bed when she was trying to read, and announcing, “I have a question about sex.” One night, driven to the edge by my incessant curiosity, she wailed, “I let you read anything you want. Isn’t that enough?”

I actually, honest to God, first learned about the mechanics at Franklin Elementary when the pastor of a nearby church came to our school and played an LP that explained everything. I still recall sitting in a group of seventh and eighth graders (boys on the left side of the aisle, girls on the right) in the auditorium and listening to the measured voice on the record saying, “then the man’s penis, engorged with blood, becomes stiff, allowing him to insert….” And sitting there, face flaming inside a curtain of hair, thinking, “so that’s how it works.”

Long past the point of “ewwww,” I was just glad to finally understand what everyone else seemed already to know.

What worked out less well was my attempt, years later, to transmit that information to my daughter. She swears to this day that my fumbling conversation, complete with hand-drawn diagrams of ovaries and fallopian tubes, was the most traumatic event of her childhood. That may be partly because I hate the word “engorged,” so I substituted “filled up.” She insists she thought the man spurted blood during sex.

(If anyone out there is thinking, “Ah, so that’s why she grew up to be a lesbian,” just stop it. If mismanagement of The Talk caused homosexuality, there wouldn’t be a straight person on this planet.)

25 comments:

Jan said...

Cute story. I think I was pretty awkward in my explanation to my kids too. But isn't that the norm?

Steven G said...

My friend Bob was the kid who ran the projector at those secret meetings in grade school for girls only. I ran into him at a bar 30 years later and asked him what actually went on. He said he was still sworn to secrecy.

Thanks for opening up the breakfast buffet again!

ladyfi said...

You really captured the awkwardness and embarrassment of sex ed! LOL!

Michelle said...

My parents had "The Joy of Sex" on the book shelf when I was a kid. I used to sneak a look at it often.
Since I am relatively new here I had no idea your daughter is a lesbian. My sister is too.

Debbie said...

You are so funny!
My husband and I are freakishly comfortable talking about anything with our kids. That probably drives them crazy.

Coffee with Cathy said...

Great post. My daughters, too, claim that I scarred them for life with The Talk. But they say that about the way I handled bra shopping and pet deaths, too, so there you go.

buffalodick said...

My Dad's sex talk to me- "You know about that stuff? Good."
My talk to my son's "We all square with the sex thing? Good."
I think daughters get a little more in depth talk, still get drunk on prom night, and do what comes natural...

Belle said...

God I love you. Not in a lesbian way of course.

Chef E said...

Oh brazen me, I decided that my mom's story of you will get pregnant kissing a guy was going to the be the end of the uneducated country girl's family line, and just lay it all out for my kids...my daughter still did not get it, but my son wanted honesty about every little thing...now I just hope he will satisfy the women! ...because I heard a girl tell a guys mom one day in the hair salon that her son sucked in bed, and what did she tell him about sex...

CDB said...

I grew up in a strict CAtholic house, so there was ZERO mention of the "deeds" and such. It's a wonder I ever learned it at all.

I do have a son, though, so .. proof is in the toddler. (:

What A Card said...

Hee! I don't know, though, if I thought penises shot blood, I might have avoided all men myself! :)

Just teasing...that's pretty hilarious!

K said...

My parents bought me "Where Do I come from".

It answered a lot of questions. I think I better buy a copy for my son because I will totally screw up the story.

Dedene said...

When I asked, "where do I come from?" My mom answered, "We bought you at a hospital."

perigrin said...

My favorite response I think will always be my brother's. "You mean Dad did that ... Twice!?!"

Having had that talk already with the girl, we dealt with it fairly straight forward and clinically. She responded with "Nuh-uh, is that for real?" She was of course seven.

Sweet Repose said...

Back in the day when I was a sophomore in high school, all of us girls used to go to a lake for a swim, it was a public lake, where all the hot guys went, as we parked in the parking lot and got out of the car, I looked into the car parked next to us and there was an old man holding this most disgusting, GROSS thing in his hand...it was HUGE!!!I sware after looking at that I was celibate until I was a senior! GROSS!!!

Did ya get a visual...Ha!

rachael chatoor said...

LOL, SO well described, Nowadays there are lots of tools on the internet, so when the questions come I will be able to search for info that doesn't look to scary....

Lilly said...

You are right there. I recall sitting down with my daughter when she was quite small with a wonderful book I still have (strangely enough). She totally was not interested. So I waited a few more years and sat down with her with yet another book. She threw it at me and said she knew all about it and go away. Yes a big success. For all I know even though she is in her early 20s she may still think the stork brings babies, ha ha!! Oh thank God there was only one of her. I couldnt have handled the rejection. As for me I recall exactly the moment and location my mother sat me down to have 'the talk'. I have no bad memories of it. My daughter cannot say the same. We do laugh a lot about that and may of our other conversations though. Oh gosh!

Comedy Goddess said...

I once again salute you. The sex talk is happening around here at my house, I guess, soon?

That engorged word is horrid. And I totally agree with your last paragraph.

Frogs in my formula said...

Love, love, love the last line! Especially since my father's sex talk to me (my mom conveniently forgot to have one with me) went like this: "There's sex, drugs and rock and roll. Don't do drugs."

Thanks, Dad.

Smart A$$ Mom said...

"If mismanagement of The Talk caused homosexuality, there wouldn’t be a straight person on this planet."

Might be one of the best lines ever blogged.

So....can I send my kids over for 'the talk'? I am excellent with hiring out.

Lee said...

In defense of the subcontractors, her sisters are only 6 and 8 years older than she. Had the same mother (ergo, the same response to questions about sex with no older sisters) and were dealing with an imaginative smart mouthed younger sibling. If you check perigrin response you can see one sister got better with time.

Jeanne said...

I knew I'd get in trouble if you read this. Please recall that one sister is only 16 months older. Let's blame her!

Middle Aged Woman said...

My mom gave me "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret" to read. Husband's dad gave him a list of technical terms, and asked if he had any questions. No? Great. Let's go out to dinner.

Wendy said...

So far I have taken the cowardly way out. I bought a book I read to my oldest son. Of course, he's only 6 so the questions aren't that hard yet.

Chaka said...

Great topic to post on. I have yet to meet the person who's parents did a good job with "the talk". I'm sure I have continued the tradition with my kids. It shouldn't be so hard. I think everyone just psyches themself out when it comes to this.

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