At 6:45 am during my morning commute, I am awake, but not like, REALLY awake. You see, I’m a crockpot, not a microwave. I heat up sloooowly, getting warmer by the hour. Therefore, I was not prepared for the bomb of a conversation my child wanted to have with me this very morning at 6:45 am in the car.
“Do you know what the word ‘climax’ means–like, the climax in a story?” she suddenly asked me.
“Yes,” I said, (insert thoughtful pause) “Are you studying that in school?”
“Yeah, and I was, like, looking it up on Merriam Webster’s Dictionary online for the definition. Well, the first two definitions were normal. Like they were talking about stories…”
I was starting to get anxious at that moment. I’m not even Catholic, but I wanted to say Hail Marys. I prayed in my mind, “Please, please, do not let my child go there. I’m so not ready to talk about this topic before 7:00 am. Please make her stop!”
But my child did not stop talking. Her eight year old brain was, in fact, churning.
“But the third definition,” she said, “was like, talking about sex.”
“Oh my. Oh my goodness. Oh dear…Did you show your teacher?”
“No! I just wrote down the first definition and got out of there fast.”
“Okay, well… I can see why that would have been shocking. You just, um….” (holy crap, I’m totally struggling for words here), “you just sometimes have to be careful with the internet.”
That response did not appease her.
“So, like…what IS sex? I mean I know it’s a private word, but what it is it?” she inquired.
“I am not exactly prepared to have this conversation at 6:45 in the morning on the way to school. Can we talk about it later?” I asked, feeling like I needed time to plan out what I was going to say.
“Okay,” she said.
But then, some weird voice intruded in my head. It was the voice that told my fears to shut up. It’s like, my authentic voice–the one that actually doesn’t respond in fear, but approaches situations from a place of love. And I was like, “Seriously, voice? After you just avoided that conversation, now you want me to be courageous? You are SO stupid, voice!”
And that internal voice said this: “Emily, there is no perfect time to have this conversation. It is a gift that she’s asking YOU, her mom, instead of someone else. GO there. Be grateful for this moment. Answer the hard questions the best you can.”
“Actually, Aliana, that’s a good question you asked, and we should talk about it now,” I suddenly said.
“Okay?” she said, now starting to get confused by my change of heart.
“So sex is something that a woman and man do that creates babies… or I mean, that can create babies,” I stuttered.
“So, I am sex?” she asked.
“NO! I didn’t explain that right… um, sex is like something a man and a woman who love each other can do together to make a baby,” I said, through my not fully awake brain.
“Okay,” she said. “Oh, did I tell you about the trip my friend went on?”
And just like that, she changed the subject. And I kind of, like, thought about going back to the sex thing, but then I remembered that when we went to the child psychologist, she told me to follow my child’s lead in discussions of this nature, and just answer the questions they ask.
And that was it. Apparently I CAN have awkward and hard conversations at 6:45 am. And if I can, we all can. AND, I know I’m going to have to talk about this again with her, which literally makes me want to crawl out of my skin, but I think what this means is that I SIMPLY HAVEN’T FIGURED OUT YET what it is that I want her to know and understand about sex–what it means and what it doesn’t mean. What intimacy is, and what it isn’t.
And maybe that’s because I’m still figuring this all out FOR MYSELF. Sex is a topic that people have VERY strong opinions about, and I’m even nervous as I’m sitting here typing this out to you. 😳🙄😳 When I was growing up, I found out through the grapevine that sex was when a penis went in a vagina, and OMG that was just so BIZARRE to wrap my brain around, and THEN I was told just to “never do it until my wedding,” and wasn’t really told why.
I am starting to see that I sort of learned things in reverse. Like, I got married and had a child, and THEN I learned about sex. And that’s all I’m going to perhaps say about it now, as the rest of my thoughts on that will be in my future memoir (hehehe), but WOW, you guys. Just wow. I actually got through that conversation!! Like I tell my students, “We can do hard things.” ❤️ I can. You can. We can.