My parents and I never had the birds and bees talk. Maybe they were waiting, I don’t know. I ended up figuring things out on my own and not because I was curious about boys, but because boys became curious about me.
I remember the first time I heard the word “sex”. I was 9 or 10, in the third grade and in my best friend’s bedroom. I was sitting on a stool in front of her open closet doors listening to her and our other friend talking when I heard the word “sex” and immediately said, “Don’t you mean six?” She replied that No, she meant Sex to which I replied, “What’s sex?”
Both girls started laughing. I was immediately embarrassed. Apparently I was a dummy for not knowing, I wanted to disappear. My best friend then proceeded to explain to me that sex is when two people are naked in the same room together. I remember thinking to myself, “I didn’t know there was a name for that”. What I said to them though is that I had sex lots of times, like I had sex with my brother when we younger and we used to take baths together. At first the girls gave me a strange look but I asked them, “Didn’t you used to take baths with your siblings when you were little.” They agreed they had. And since you are naked when you bathe we all agreed that we had all had sex with our siblings. Thank goodness we did not go around saying this to people! Can you imagine?? For the record, I have never had sex with my brother. haha.
Needless to say a few years later when we reached the age in school for sex-ed we ALL realized we had never had sex with our brothers like we previously thought. It didn’t matter by that point though because we never talked about it again after that day. Not for any particular reason, there was just no interest. It’s like we had the conversation and then went right back to dancing and singing to Madonna tapes like we always did. Who cares about being naked with your brother when you were little anyway? Not us, that’s for sure.
Sex-ed really didn’t help further my understanding of the act of sex much. I did find out about periods though. That was an awkward couple of days following. Periods were all anyone wanted to talk about. Every time a girl would get up to use the bathroom everyone would start to whisper, “Oh so and so must be on her period”. I didn’t go pee at school for a week. It made for a very long week.
By middle school my Catholic upbringing had helped a little with my understanding of sex. I had a very rudimentary understanding of what happens, thought it was disgusting and knew that I didn’t have to worry about it until I wanted to get married anyway. Thank God, one less thing to worry about in middle school. Sex didn’t come up again until 8th grade when I was in the girls restroom before home-room one morning with my girlfriend that I rode to school with. Two other girls we knew walked in gossiping about how one of the boys we knew from class brought a “condom” to school in his backpack and was showing everyone. I made the mistake again of immediately admitting my nativity to this new word I had never heard before. And again I was met with laughter. Humiliated by sex once again, good grief. My friend explained what they were for and we all agreed that was gross and he was gross for carrying one around.
A few months later one of my best friend’s who had a boyfriend, a very big deal for my group of friends as none of us were really allowed to date, explained in detail about how when they went to the movies over the weekend they didn’t exactly watch the movie the whole time. Nothing too terrible happened, they made out and he tried to get to first base. I had no clue there were bases. (Big surprise- clearly I was the last to know anything about this sex stuff). This time I chose not to ask questions. Knowing that he tried to grab her boob made me uncomfortable enough, I didn’t want to hear what else is involved in these bases. I never did like baseball much anyway. At that time I still called my boobs my private parts. Growing up Catholic that’s how it was, these parts are private. They didn’t even really have names. Everything under my clothes were pretty much collectively “my private parts” and you were not supposed to let people see or touch your private parts. That was fine by me because it was a non-issue. At that time I thought there was Sex and there was Kissing and no in between. When I suddenly found out there was this gray area where boys would want to touch your boobs I was terrified.
Most things were like this for me growing up. What I mean is, I was naive and things were very black and white. At least that is how I understood them. Drinking is bad, this was very black and white. Drugs are bad AND they are all the same, Marijuana is equivalent to Cocaine. This was very black and white. Sex is for when you are married and no one is ever allowed to see or touch your private parts. This was very black and white.
I am not even necessarily saying this is what my parents told me or taught me directly. These are the lessons the church taught us growing up and my parents never contradicted it nor did we have conversations about any of it. I think this may partly be because I never asked. I think had I come to them they would have discussed any of these topics with me, we have always had a very open relationship. I also think it is because my parents have always played a very active role in my life so they felt they knew what was going on with me and if anything came up where they felt these talks were needed then they would have had them.
All I can think is they knew we, my brother and I, were good kids and they didn’t think the talks were needed yet. The thing is though it doesn’t matter how good your kid is. If you don’t tell them, someone else will and someone you don’t want telling them. Better to hear it from you than the pimply faced kid that has no clue what they are talking about and is suddenly going to introduce the element of peer pressure that your kid is not prepared for. Sure, it is an uncomfortable conversation but your kid is curious and maybe too embarrassed to ask, wouldn’t you rather they hear it from you?
Looking back at it I absolutely wish I had a better handle on a lot of things before I was in a situation where I was ill-equipped to deal with what was going on around me. Luckily things turned out alright for me, I made it out of my teens alive and in tact but that isn’t completely true for everyone. I am absolutely not saying it is the parent’s fault either when something goes awry. I am speaking strictly from my own experience when I say I just wish I had been better prepared. I love my parents, they did great. This is nothing on them but for me, when I have kids, I might do things slightly different.