During a slow day at work, I took my usual time out to surf for the latest news on the internet. I ran across this article about a mother talking to her teen about sex. The link is to the full article, and people’s varied comments, which is titled Teaching Teenagers About the Joy of Sex. A copy of the article is below. My two cents: I applaud the mother for having a very real discussion with her daughter. It’s interesting how every other topics can be discussed in detail but sex is considered distasteful if you say too much besides the birds and the bees basics. What’s your thoughts?
SEX, DEATH AND BIRTH CONTROL
By Kathleen Volk Miller
Allison and I are at the Crystal Lake Diner, her favorite place for lunch with me alone since she was about 5 years old. She is now 17. And we have to order what we have always ordered: a cheeseburger with fries and a Greek salad.
I take turns, rotating through Saturdays, taking each of my three children to lunch. We started this practice after a short stint at family therapy to help 9-year-old Chris with sleeping issues. After a few sessions with the therapist, which always included lunch afterwards, I realized I was getting more “done” at the lunches. I learned more about them and they got to ask me questions, talk about things, that didn’t have space to come up in our normal lives.
Allison had been dating Andy for about three months. She had started out lukewarm, didn’t know how to respond to his “I miss you” text messages. But now, she saw him every day, and on the days she didn’t, we all went through high drama, depths of despair.
I really don’t know how the topic first came up, but we got on the issue of sex before our meal came. A few weeks prior, Allison’s best friend had had a pregnancy scare. She had done the E.P.T. at our house. Allison had let me know, and had used that opportunity to ask me if I would take her to the gynecologist and get her on birth control when she was ready, so that she’d never have to go through the anxiety her friend was going through. I had told her I would.
And now she was asking me to make the appointment. I hadn’t expected her to be ready so soon. She emphasized how good she felt about how she was handling things. She and Andy were each other’s first everything: neither of them had even French-kissed until they were with each other.
She let me know that every step had been slow, at least a week advanced before they went a step further. She told me that even when he put his hand on her breast, on top of her shirt, he looked her in the eyes, and asked if it was O.K.
I told her that was sweet and respectful and hid how hard it had become for me to accept. She repeated again and again that she “was doing this the right way,” that I had “no idea how many kids have sex first, then date,” and that she and Andy both felt good about developing their relationship first.
We talked about another girl at school, rumored to have become drunk at a party, who had intercourse with one boy, oral sex with another. We laughed at how Hayley, my younger daughter, vowed she would never have oral sex, even when she was married, and her future husband would have to understand, “or too bad.” Somehow, we stayed on the subject of oral sex, and there was just something about the way she wouldn’t meet my eye that I found myself saying, “Alli, have you done that?” She kept her eyes on her cheeseburger but nodded, “Yes.”
I was glad her eyes were on her plate, so that she couldn’t see the look that crossed mine. I managed to say, “So, what do you think?”
She said: “It’s O.K. It’s not as gross as I thought it would be. I mean, I guess I’m not getting that much out of it, but I like making him happy that way.”
I asked if he had ever reciprocated and she said: “No. It’s just so much grosser.”
I did my best to correct that thought, and wondered where I had failed her.
And she said: “Well, I don’t even know what he’s supposed to do. He doesn’t even know what he’s supposed to do.”
And over a Greek salad and fries, I told her. I spared no detail. I was Dr. Ruth. I spoke in plain language and never flinched. I realized, as I spoke, how important this moment was. I realized that I was giving Allison the opportunity to talk about sex. Simply that, she was being trained that it was O.K. to talk about her clitoris in a diner. I want her to be a woman who can not only do this, but who can discuss it over lunch with her friends. She stayed as objective as I was, asking questions, listening hard to what I had to say.
She told me that she and Andy talked and talked about everything. That he was willing to wait as long as she needed to wait. That she had told him that not only would she be on the pill first, but that he would still wear a condom, how she saw his not using one as another step, something she wasn’t ready for yet. She told me how one time, when they were making out, he stopped and said, “You know, I really like just holding you and talking, too.”
She told me how happy she was that they were open about things. How comfortable she was with him. How she couldn’t believe it herself. How she never thought she could feel this way.
I thought about what it would be like next time I saw him. He is a gorgeous boy, with full lips and blue eyes that can only be called beautiful. He’s 6-foot-2 and she looks like a little princess with him, and you can see how much he adores her in his eyes, in the way he bends toward her when she talks. Now that I knew, could I carry on a conversation with him without punching him in the face?
I thought, “If this has to happen, she is doing this right, and this is the right boy.” But does it have to happen so soon? Does it have to happen now?
Eventually we left, and I dropped Allison off for an afternoon at the mall with her friends. A few hours later she called me at home, and all she said was, “Mom?” and I could tell she was crying.
“Seth died,” she said, meaning her good friend Sydney’s half-brother, who had been in a severe car accident a few weeks earlier, but had been in stable condition for at least two weeks. Sydney was shopping right then with Allison, and had learned the news moments before. I could hear the other girls sobbing in the background and I could picture them in a tight circle at the mall, three hysterical teenagers in a huddle as people brushed past. Sydney’s mother was already on her way to get them.
When Allison finally came home, we hugged and kissed and cried. “It’s just so strange,” I said. “After our conversation this afternoon that was so much about celebrating life.”
“I know,” she said. “I thought about that, too.” We smiled at each other as we held hands and teared up again, and then she said, “I think maybe the lesson we are to learn here is that we should have as much sex as possible — and eat a lot.”
A sound came out of my throat that was somewhere between a laugh and a sob. On Monday morning I made Allison’s appointment at the gynecologist, and stopped myself from telling the receptionist everything.