My children are 11, 8 and 8. They know what sex is.
“How are babies made?” they wanted to know.
When I answered, I was honest.
I told them that God made a man and a woman fit together like puzzle pieces. When a man’s penis (or pee pee) is erect and hard, it fits inside a woman’s vagina (the middle hole of a girl’s private area.) I used my right index finger to demonstrate the erection of the male anatomy, and the fingers of my left hand to make an ‘o’ shape representative of the female. As I inserted the male into the female, astonished eyebrows raised amongst my silent but interested audience.
I told them that lots of tiny sperm that swim like tadpoles leave the tip of the man’s penis and travel to the woman’s egg. If one sperm sticks, the egg is fertilized and a baby will grow inside the woman’s belly. If two sperm stick to two eggs, two babies will grow. Or, in the special case of our identical twins, one egg can sometimes be fertilized by one sperm, but then split in half to form two babies. This intriguing fact also produced some contorted facial expressions.
When I was done I waited for the question that I knew would follow:
“Mommy, why would anyone want to do this?”
The following is the most honest answer I could offer to them in terms I knew they would relate to:
Sex is like driving a car to the best birthday party ever. In order to get there safely, you have to be old enough to respect the dangers of the trip.
If you are reckless or irresponsible with the car – you drive too fast, forget to wear your seat belt, or fail to consider the direction of the other cars on the road – accidents can happen. People can get very hurt. Lives can change forever.
But when you are a responsible driver – you take your time getting there, you wear your seatbelt, and treat other drivers on the road with respect – you will arrive safely. Then you’ll have so much fun at the party that the careful trip will have been worth the wait!
When two people treat sex and each other with respect, sex feels good. Actually – it feels like love. Like the biggest, best, smiliest hug you could ever imagine. That’s why people do it.
But if the serious nature of sex is not respected, it doesn’t always feel good. It can feel like a big mistake. A bad choice with permanent consequences.
Like a baby before you’re ready to be a parent. Before you’re even married. Perhaps with someone you don’t even really like. Because it only takes one tiny little sperm and one egg to make a baby forever.
It was a good talk.
We covered what we needed to cover. Since then, they have had many spontaneous questions.
“What are balls?” (They’re called testicles. They make the man’s sperm that fertilizes the woman’s egg.)
“Did you talk to your Mommy before you made sex?” (Oh of course I did, honey – I hope they’ll talk to me more.)
“What did she say?” (She helped me decide if I was ready or not – she definitely steered me towards ‘or not.’)
“How old were you when you made sex?” (Old enough to make a safe decision – This may have been stretching the truth, but they’re 8. We’ll get to that.)
“Who did you make sex with?” (We’ll talk about that when you’re older – I made a quick exit. I’m sure I had something important to do.)
My hope is that the kids will continue to feel comfortable asking me questions.
So that even if they don’t tell me exactly when they’re going to have sex for the first time, I will have already prepared them to make an informed decision.
I hope all our little talks along the way will remind each one of them to slow down, and – at the very least – buckle up for safety. Because that’s a party that is worth the wait.