However...that carefree era was also the "we don't talk about that" era. As such, most of what I learned about sex came from my Dad's purloined Mickey Spillane novels and the schoolyard rumor mill. If I hadn't read Are you There God, It's Me Margaret I might have been convinced I was dying of some horrible, nameless "down there" disease when I began menstruating. But, thus informed, and armed with an "It's GREAT to be a Woman" starter kit that I got in the fifth grade, I ventured forth into womanhood with very little fanfare or acknowledgement other than the mysterious appearance of a box of Kotex in the bathroom cabinet.
When I began having sex at 17, I took myself down to Planned Parenthood and endured my first pelvic exam alone, scared to death my Mom would find out. Taboo subject that it was, I don't know how or why I had the presence of mind to procure some birth control, but I thank heaven that I did. I never told her, though part of me hoped desperately that she would somehow discover my secret, and we could talk about it at last. She never did.
When I had children of my own I vowed it would be different. I resolved to be open, honest and matter of fact with my kids about sex, and I resolved that they would always know they could talk to me about anything and everything.
That has proven to be easier said than done.
I tend to overthink things a bit, and the whole sex issue is no exception. From the time my oldest was an infant, I started planning what I would say and how. I ran through endless scenarios in my head. I practiced dialogue and feigning nonchalance. I was as prepared as I could be, and I was confident that when the time came, I would pull it off with aplomb. I would not choke. I would be as cool as a cucumber. I would.
Unfortunately, no amount of preparation can innoculate you against the shock of your piercingly innocent 7 year old child asking out of a clear blue sky..."So Mom...what IS sex anyway?" Everything I had rehearsed fled from my brain in a torrent of panic and denial, and I said something like...."Yurg."
Mercifully, I was able to gather my wits about me and make a pretty convincing show of being perfectly at ease while we discussed the basics of intercourse and insemination. Yurg indeed.
Fast forward a couple years, and I've got this down pat. I've covered just about everything there is to cover, except for nocturnal emissions, which I'm leaving to the parent who has actually experienced this phenomenon. I figure we've got a little time yet anyway, though I'm sure it will sneak up on us the way that first winsome inquiry did. I expect to be sniffing sheets before too long. So, thinking myself quite progressive and experienced, I relaxed a bit and did not worry quite so much about the inevitable moment when my younger child seeks enlightenment.
And still I was caught completely off gaurd.
In the van on the way home from a baseball game last evening, the talk was all about batting averages, RBIs and optically challenged umpires. Suddenly, with no warning whatsoever, my sweet blue eyed diminutive one decided the time was right to start laying the groundwork for some intercourse discourse.
"Hey Mom, I heard some ladies get their stomach cut open to get the baby out."
"Ummmm...(don't say Yurg, don't say Yurg)...yes, that's true. It's called a C-section."
"Does it hurt?"
"Yes, I imagine it does."
"You don't know?"
"No, I didn't have a C-section, honey."
"Well then how did I get out?"
"You came out my vagina."
Stunned silence ensued. I bit my lips to keep from filling the chasm with gory details he might not yet want or need. Many moments passed. My husband and I looked at one other, blinking and bemused, while the pre-pubescent one snickered at the word "vagina". Finally he spoke.
"I sure wish I didn't ask that."
Me to buddy, me too. More silence, and then...
"I'm glad I'm not a girl."
Me too buddy. Meeeeeeeeeeee too.