So I'm on the phone in the car on the way to the grocery store catching up with a college friend while the kids are in the back seat. (Oh Shut up. Don't look at me like that. You do it too.) She lives in California and I'm in North Carolina so the 3 hour time difference makes it kind of difficult to connect on any sort of regular basis. I'm trying to make the most of our phone call, but I've got one ear on her and one ear on the conversation the boys are having in the back seat because they're busy making fun of each other's imaginary girlfriend, and you never know where that might lead.
"Oh yeah?" I hear Landis say. "Well YOUR imaginary girlfriend has a VAGINA!" (Because I think it's clear at this point that this kid loves any excuse to toss out the V word.)
I pause in my own conversation to say "Landis.....I would certainly hope so. All girls have vaginas. That's what makes them girls." Gibson snorts with glee because he loves any opportunity to prove his brother wrong. Plus, you know, we all just said "vagina".
They return to their bantering and I return to my friend on the phone. But then I hear Gibson say "Oh yeah? Well you SEX your imaginary girlfriend!"
Two things run immediately through my mind.
#1 - He feels pretty comfortable just throwing that "sex" word out there - like he's discussing pancakes or the blue sky, or something else fairly inconsequential.
#2 - It's clear from the way he used it that despite our very frank discussion about they way babies are made (and our little - ahem - slide show about how they get out of there), he still hasn't put two and two together. He doesn't get it. Or he certainly wouldn't be throwing it around in front of his mother.
I suppose this needs to be addressed. And I guess there's probably no time like the present.
"Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh....Cheryl?" I say. "I have to go." And then I practically hang up on her as I adjust the rear view mirror so I can look directly at him.
"Gibson? Do you know what "sex" is?" I ask.
"Yes" he replies.
"What is it?"
"Well...." he squirms "It's when a boy doesn't have any pants on.... And a girl doesn't have any pants on.... And they are on top of each other....."
"OK......" I reply. (Thanks 5th-grader-on-the-bus-who-thinks-he-knows-what-he's-talking-about. I don't know who you are, but I'm going to find you because I'm not the one who gave him this description and you're the next logical choice as the purveyor of this sort of information, no?)
Still, I'm pretty sure that he doesn't have the whole picture - or certainly not an accurate one, being that he's so casual about accusing his brother of "sexing" his imaginary girlfriend - so I probe a little more.
"What else, Gibson?"
"Ummmmmmmmm............... Nothing? I don't know. They're just on top of each other?" He squirms some more. "I don't know what else."
Sigh.... Here we go. Head long into another sex talk. I don't know why it surprises me. I guess I thought maybe we'd just have that one, and then -- I don't know -- be done? Or maybe I thought that they'd have these sort of talks with their FATHER? Why don't they talk about vaginas and sexing imaginary girlfriends in front of him?! Why is it always me?
"Well... remember when we had that long talk about babies?" I ask him. He says he does. "Do you remember how all of that worked?"
"Kind of..." he tells me.
"Do you remember where the egg comes from?"
"And do you remember what it takes to fertilize the egg?"
Maybe not so much...
"Well do you remember what you have in your testicles?" I ask.
"BALLS!!!" yells Landis. Because I'm pretty sure he likes an excuse to use the word "balls" as much as he likes an excuse to use the word vagina.
"Landis... Your balls ARE your testicles." I remind him. "And I'm not really talking to you, OK? I'm talking to Gibson so I want him to answer."
He can't remember.
"It's sperm." I tell him. Oh yeah... He'd forgotten.
"And do you remember how we talked about how it takes both of those things to make a baby? And how we're designed so that the man's penis fits into the woman's vagina?"
Yes, he remembers all of that.
"Well that's what's going on when men and women have no pants on and are on top of each other.... That's the "sex" that you're talking about."
And all of a sudden it clicks. His eyes get huge as he bolts straight up in the back seat.
"OH MY GOD, YOU'RE NAKED?!?!?!?" he yells. "THAT'S SEX?!?!?!?" He writhes around. "That is SO GROSS. THAT IS SO GROSS!!!!!!! Oh My God, that's DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I hide my smile because I definitely don't want him to think I'm laughing at him and his reaction -- which, of course I am because It's so hilarious. So I fix my face and say "Well, frankly I'm glad you feel that way right now. That's totally appropriate. But you know, when you get older and you're married and you're thinking about having a family, you may feel differently."
(Because here's the deal........ Honestly, I want them to have a healthy attitude about sex, but I'm so far in to uncharted territory I'm not sure what to say or how to convey that. Or even if it's appropriate at this point in time. I mean, Jeezus, he's 8. 8!! But I just keep talking because that's what I do when I have no idea what I'm doing.....Which, let's be honest, is MOST OF THE TIME.)
"NO, I WON'T!" He shouts.
"Well, you might. But that won't be for a long time. So I'm glad you think it's gross for the time-being. You should think it's gross...."
And then. THEN all of a sudden he has this realization..... and he stops writhing around and looks directly at me.
"Do you and DAD do it? Do you guys have SEX?" he asks.
I look over my shoulder at him and reply as casually as possible, "Well sure...... I mean, you're here, aren't you?"
He starts convulsing all over the back seat again but this time it's so hard I think he might actually be having a seizure. He whips his head back and forth with a fury, like he's trying to dislodge a mental picture that is too hideous to imagine.
"DIS.GUS.TING!!!!!! DISGUSTING!DISGUSTING!DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OH MY GOD THAT IS SO DISGUSTING!!!!!" he shouts. "I am NEVER having sex. Never, never, NEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Look Gibson." I say. "I'm glad you feel that way. I'm just saying that there may come a time when you change your mind about that. It's a normal part of a committed and loving relationship -- you know -- when you're an ADULT and you're ready to have babies."
"Well I'm NEVER having sex!" he shouts again. "If I have a wife, she can just go and have sex with SOME OTHER DUDE because I AM NEVER HAVING SEX!"
OK then. If my purpose here was to mentally scar my child beyond any chance of recovery - and I think it's clear that was my objective from the beginning - then I think I can say with certainty: Mission ACCOMPLISHED.
Surprising no one
2 years ago