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Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Talk

I have three kids with whom I had to have The Talk. Like countless parents nauseating their children before me, I had to talk to each one of them when they became curious enough to ask or when their changing bodies dictated it was time. Judging by their facial expressions, there’s nothing more excrutiating than having your mother describe, sometimes in great detail, what happens to a child’s body as they go through puberty ... or how to make a baby.

When my oldest daughter needed a bra, I decided it was time to talk to her about the changes her body would be undergoing shortly. I pulled her into my bedroom, locked the door, and sat beside her.

”I already know all this stuff, Mom,” my enlightened ten-year-old told me.

How, pray-tell, did she know "this stuff"?

”Oh, you do, do you?" 

”Yeah," she said, “Tiffany told me.” (Note: The names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

”Well, why don’t I go over it, just in case Tiffany left something important out.”

I had the talk with Jana a few years later. Tara, able to eat spaghetti while watching a show on intestinal surgery, is more matter of fact about bodily functions, and she took our talk about well as could be expected. Jana, on the other hand, looked like she might throw up! I must say, until that day, I had never actually seen anyone turn that particular shade of chartreuse! 

Before I knew it, it was Dave’s turn. I walked into the dining room, armed with my book on puberty and reproduction, with its caricature-like pictures, and sat down with Dave. Sweet, little Jannie sat at the other end of the table, innocently coloring.

”I’m going to talk to Davy about where babies come from,” I announced, the calm in my voice belying my nervousness.

Jana looked at me with the same fear I’d seen in countless horror movies growing up. You know the face ... the one right before the boogey-man hacks his victim to death.

And there was that pretty shade of chartreuse again!!

Visibly shaking, she anxiously gathered up her crayons and coloring book. ”I’ve already heard it once. I don’t want to hear it again.”

I watched her clean up her mess ... both amused at her distress and amazed that she could move so quickly!

Once Jana was as far away as she could possibly get from the dining room, I opened the book and began my well-rehearsed presentation, showing Davy the pictures of boys and girls bodies. I don’t really know that those pictures are very helpful. I know what the stuff looks like and what it does, and I have a hard time seeing it in those sketches! There is no way a kid could figure things out from those drawings!! I realize you couldn’t have actual photos or the books would be hidden under boys mattresses with Playboys or traded like currency on the playground, but they could do a little better job. The pictures even confuse me!

My sister had to have this talk with her three boys as they each came of age. One of them came upstairs a little after their talk and asked her, ”What’s that thing a ladies got? An iguana?”

My sister thought for a moment and said, ”Yeah, it’s an iguana.” 

Fortunately I never had to endure The Talk with my mother. I guess she figured we’d learn it in health class. She was wrong. Mr. Canterberry, my Sex Ed/Drivers Ed teacher (interesting combination, don’t you think?!), skipped those chapters altogether, opting instead to show us gory films of teenagers dying in car accidents. 

Given the squeamish look on Mr. Canterberry’s face when someone questioned why we skipped chapters fourtheen through twenty-one, I’m guessing Mr. Canterberry’s kids got their information the same way I did ... from a "Tiffany" more than willing to share her knowledge with those less fortunate!

Parenthood ... it’s truly not for the faint of heart!!

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