I distinctly remember getting “The Talk” from my mother. It was likely the most uncomfortable conversation I’ve ever had.
I was about 10 years old. She was baking bread, as she did regularly. The conversation began with me asking to go out for a walk (we lived in the sticks and I was craving a walk along our country road. The Talk began with my mother warning me about watching out for strange men who might want to take advantage of little girls and ended with where babies come from.
It was awkward, uncomfortable, and just plain icky. It was so awful that it guaranteed that I would never, ever, ask my mother any questions about sex — ever. It surprises me a little bit now, looking back. I was the last of five children, and so theoretically she should have had plenty of practice talking to her offspring about the birds and the bees. But unfortunately that simply wasn’t the case. Granted, she was raised in a different time, and I can only imagine the conversation that SHE got from her own mother, back in the middle ages. Add to this the fact that my mother is a giant prude, and well, this was just a recipe for maximum awkwardness.
When I had kids, I vowed that I would be different. I approached my parenting with this attitude: If they’re old enough to ask the question, then they’re old enough to hear the [age appropriate] answer.” This meant that my two year olds knew the words “penis” and “vagina”, and would use them as freely and easily as “ear” and “nose”. Over the years, whenever my girls had a question, I always answered it….as much as it caught me off guard or made me feel a little squirmy inside. The answers have changed over the years — as they’ve gotten older, the answers have gotten progressively more detailed and complex.
Kiddo is ten now and she’s full of lots of questions about sex and the changes that her body is going through. She discusses these with me without any trace of embarrassment. She asks questions — increasingly more detailed and complex questions, and soaks up the answers that I give to her. Sometimes I even wonder if just maybe she’s testing her dear old momma, just to find out how far she can go with these questions. But as tough as it is sometimes to wrap my head around the fact that these are things that my little girl wants to know, I know that it’s important for her to get the proper information and not share misinformation on the playground, as was the way things were done when I was growing up.
Earlier this week, Kiddo came to me, giggling. She said that there were several of her friends lately at school, laughing about how they’d gotten “The Talk” from their parents. They then asked her if she’d gotten “The Talk” yet.
Her response was priceless.
“I told them that I’ve been getting ‘The Talk’ since I was two years old! That we have ‘The Talk’ anytime I have a question!”
Score one for mom. Now if I can just get her to stop using the word “vag”, I’ll be all set.