I confess that one of my favorite subjects to talk to my kids about is sexuality. I have been looking forward to each stage of their understanding about bodies, puberty, and sex since they were little.
I guess that seems creepy. But as my kids grow, I am reminded - in the form of uncomfortable memories, mostly - that my own upbringing was lacking in accurate sexual education.
My mom gave me a book to read about sex when I asked her how she got pregnant with my brother when I was seven, but I don't remember much about it. I kind of knew that she and my dad were up to something completely gross while we slept, but my young mind did not entertain the details for long.
We got the talk about puberty and Your Changing Body in the 6th grade at school. I remember being so horrified about the idea of blood flowing from vaginas once a month that I failed to learn why this would happen. I didn't even know that vagina was a word that adults used - I thought it was a punchline to a joke that we girls would write on a slip of paper and pass around the classroom. As in "Knock, knock. Who's there? My vagina." I thought it was extremely embarrassing to be taught about sex and puberty in a dark, quiet library, in a group of 30 girls, where no one would dare ask a question or even make eye contact.
I remember whispering to my friends at slumber parties about who got their period in class, and how she had to go to the nurse and was sent home that very day.
I remember being afraid of My Changing Body and wishing that some parts of it would change faster and that others would change more slowly.
I was such a sex novice that I remember being convinced I would be pregnant soon or that everyone would know just by looking at me that I kissed someone for the first time during the summer before 7th grade.
And I remember being afraid to assert myself about sex, because I was so ignorant about it that I didn't understand when to say no, or how to say yes, or even what I felt about it at all.
So when I had kids, I remembered that much of my sex education was learned not at school, really, but from the kids at school and - yikes - the boys on the bus. So I vowed that my kids would be the ones setting their friends straight when they started talking about sexuality.
My husband and I read books about how to talk with our kids about sex and Their Changing Bodies, and we laugh and stammer and turn red trying not to laugh when we talk about body hair, body odor, balls, boobs, butts, and pimples, periods and penises, and yes, even vaginas. But most times we laugh. Because sex can be embarrassing to talk about with your kids, and it is better to laugh than to cry and run out of the room. Or to not say anything at all.
My goal is to have my daughter understand that it is okay if she doesn't have sex with her boyfriend, and that no one should touch her if she doesn't want to be touched. And to have my son know that when his girlfriend says no, it means NO. I want my kids to learn that puberty is normal, and sex is not a contest or a rite of passage to be attained at a specific age.
So if you drive by my house and you hear us laughing uncontrollably, you know what we're talking about.