This post is in response to the WordPress daily one-word prompt: Candid
Warning: This is a candid post that contains some sexual content!
I always say my kids lost their sweet innocence of childhood when they went to Middle School. By that, I mean that their naivety about certain subjects flew right out the window. When they started elementary school, one of my greatest joys was driving them to school. I have such sweet memories of dropping them off in the car rider’s lane and them turning around and blowing me kisses right before they turned and ran into the school. I remember the day another mother witnessed my oldest son who was a six-year-old first grader, blowing me a kiss. I had my car windows down and she happened to walk by my car as he blew that kiss. She smiled and said, “Enjoy that while you can mom, because in a few years, he’s going to act like he doesn’t know you!” Her comment made me laugh but also made me feel a tiny bit sad because I knew it was true.
I enjoyed driving my sons to school and picking them up. It was a time to hear about homework, their thoughts on school, their friends, and how their day had gone. Towards the end of elementary school, my boys decided they wanted to be school bus riders. Since I didn’t have too many fond memories of riding the school bus myself, I balked a little at first. But then I gave in. Why not? And from that point on, they were school bus riders until they got their driver’s licences and started driving themselves to school.
One afternoon I was preparing dinner and chopping onions. I heard the squeaky brakes of the school bus coming down the street and I knew my oldest son would be walking in soon from middle school. He had just started the 7th grade and Ms. Kathy, the school bus driver (who I liked a lot and who knew my kids well and watched out for them), ran the middle school and high school routes and then went back to pick up the elementary school kids. So my youngest, still in elementary school, wouldn’t be home for another hour.
My oldest son walked in the door, and as usual, went straight for the refrigerator while saying hello. I asked him how his day had gone. He managed to grunt out a “fine,” but looked like he was in deep contemplation about something. I continued chopping onions. Then my son out of the blue said, “Mom, what’s oral sex?” Well, let me tell you, my jaw dropped and I about chopped my finger clean off with the knife I was using to chop those onions. I tried not to show how stunned I was and replied, “Where did that come from?” My son then told me that he overheard some kids talking about it on the back of the school bus. Of course.
I had always been candid with my kids especially where the facts of life were concerned. I knew too many kids from my childhood whose mothers didn’t adequately prepare them for menstruation or ever have the talk with them about where babies come from. I didn’t want my kids hearing those things from anyone else but their parents. Because I remembered the things that kids talk about on playgrounds. We had had the talk about where babies come from. But in all honesty, this question totally caught me off guard and threw me for a loop and I found myself at a total loss for words. I knew I needed to think about my answer and choose my words carefully and so I said to my son, “I tell you what, why don’t we have a talk about that after dinner, because right now, your mom’s got to get this meatloaf finished and in the oven and get the rest of the food for dinner prepared. Okay?” He agreed and went on his merry way. I proceeded to break out in a cold sweat anticipating how I was going to answer this question. But I got through it.
Then a short time later, the question of masturbation came up. Again, he had heard about masturbation from someone at middle school. For some reason, telling him about sexual intercourse and how babies were born seemed like a piece of cake compared to this question. In all honesty, I really struggled with this one.
I decided I would do better reading to him out of a book. I didn’t want to stammer or stutter and I wanted my son to have the proper facts. I didn’t want to mess this up. I had this book on my book shelf.
I generally agree with most everything Dr. Ruth says and I usually like that she is so candid where sex is concerned. But the problem is, I had not read the book yet. I made a big mistake sitting my son down that night, and turning to the section on masturbation without having looked it over for myself first. In this book, Dr. Ruth writes as if she’s really talking to a kid. She started the masturbation section out by explaining what sexual arousal is, and what happens to our bodies during arousal– i.e., erections and vaginal lubrication. So far so good. Then she goes on to say that some boys and girls masturbate by touching their genitals to feel good. And that after puberty begins, the urge to masturbate will probably become stronger and more frequent. She goes into detail how masturbation is performed in each of the sexes. I’ll skip those details.
Here is where I started to have a problem with this book. Dr. Ruth explained that boys often like to look at sexy pictures in magazines when they masturbate (and that for some reason that sort of thing usually doesn’t interest girls that much). Then she goes on to say that if kids have such magazines, they need to make sure their parents understand that the magazines are their private, personal property. Okay, did Dr. Ruth just tell my son that it was okay to look at porn? Yes, I do believe she did! Then she goes on to explain that masturbation is normal and explains away some of the myths associated with masturbation. Like how masturbation won’t make you blind or retarded, it won’t make boys run out of semen, it won’t affect your sex life when you get older and it won’t make girls get pregnant and it won’t make you a bad person. She goes on to say that there’s nothing wrong with NOT masturbating. I was okay with her explaining all that, just not the looking at porn part.
I continued reading aloud and was sorry I did. Dr. Ruth went on to say that masturbation should always be done in private. It was this next part that I had a real problem with. Here’s exactly what she said:
Close your door if you do it in your room, and make it clear to your family that they’re not to walk into your room without knocking. If you’re afraid they’ll barge in, you can put a piece of heavy furniture in front of the door.
At that point, I quietly closed the book shut and quit reading. I took a deep breath. Not only had Dr. Ruth said porn was okay, she had just told my child that it was okay to push his dresser or other piece of heavy furniture in front of his bedroom door, to barricade himself into his bedroom as a way of keeping his family out while he masturbated. I had to clear a few things up with my son, who if I remember correctly, was laughing at this point. I grew up in a household where my sisters and I were not allowed to even lock our bedroom doors. My father was always strict about that. I think my parents were always concerned about fire and that was their reason for them not wanting us to lock our doors, but I also never really felt a need to lock my bedroom door.
So I had learned a valuable lesson. Always, always read these types of books before you decide to read them aloud to your kids! Because the advice they give may not coincide with the advice you would give them and the author’s values may differ from your values. Lesson learned.