I never, ever, ever remember having the sex talk with my mother. EVER. The closest we came to having one was her telling me, “Just don’t do it.” Clearly, she was never going to work for Nike. However, not having these discussions with my mother did not bother me. The topic always seemed too taboo to discuss with an adult anyway. Instead, the bulk of my knowledge came from reading, watching health videos in school (a whopping two) and the privilege of having an older sibling whose conversations with his not so mature friends regularly highlighted the subject.
My son on the other hand is a different kid. Since he was small, he has been a bundle of curiosity wrapped in stubbornness. And as these two characteristics have grown, so has his questions about sex. They have moved from “Where do babies really come from” to “What is a condom?” As he throws out question after question, I feel my discomfort growing. I find myself wondering how can I answer this question and that question without giving way more detail then what is required, or necessary, for his age. I have started to figure out that the discomfort, or rather; anxiety that fills me when my son brings up the topic is linked more to me never having a quality conversation about sex then it has to do with him being curios. Growing up, my friends and I knew what it involved but not many of us (if any) were having active conversations with our parents or caregivers. It was just meant to stay a mystery.
The mystery surrounding the topic is what pushes me through these conversations with my son. I know if he doesn’t get the information from my husband and I that he will learn about it in other ways. One being what I have dubbed the “playground version.” The version that outlines bits and pieces of his classmates’ opinions but rarely any facts. As nervous as I sometimes find myself answering his questions, I marvel at his ability, and level of comfort, to approach me when he has questions. I like that he doesn’t concern himself with the idea of feeling embarrassed or keeping his thoughts to himself. Moreover, he would rather seek answers then to stay in the dark. In all his unfiltered innocence, he makes it okay to acknowledge what is not known and for me to awkwardly walk through conversations with him. Judgement free. If he can be mature enough to look me in my eyes and attempt to make sense out of what I have to say then the least I can do is listen and provide clarity. Even if that means he is the calmer of us two.
Latanya Muhammad is an educator, group facilitator and freelance writer. To learn more about her, and her work, visit www.shetanagain.com