Ok, so perhaps that seems a little melodramatic, but THE TALK is one of those moments in a child's life that they typically remember for the rest of their lives for both good and bad reasons. I didn't want it to be something they look back on as entirely cringe worthy.
I was also stressing about my boys going to school and relaying our conversation to their friends and how it would be relayed. You know how the game Chinese Whispers works, the original content comes out completely twisted and warped. I so didn't want the content of our family's Sex discussion to be dinner table material in someone elses house on Monday night.
So my weapon of choice in this charade was going to be
Saturday morning saw me head to my local book store with my boys in tow. It was quite busy in there, but there were 4 people serving so I was able to get the attention of the server of my choice - a hip looking youngish girl who I was convinced would be up to date on all this stuff.
I made my way to the counter and she greeted me with "Hi how can I help you".
I responded by mumbling "I need a book on THE TALK".
"Sorry you need what?" She replied.
"I need a book to help me talk to my boys about ..... you know stuff" I said slightly louder and less sheepishly.
"I'm sorry ma am I'm not really sure what you are after" the now less hip more confused sales girl confessed.
Somewhat agitated and slightly wearied I finally piped up at full voice "I need to talk to my boys tonight about sex and I need a book to help me...(pause) PLEASE!"
Well I may as well have farted in church, because it seemed the whole store went silent. I vaguely recall hearing my oldest son say something like "oh Geez Mum" before heading to the back of the store to hide in embarrassment. And then the laughter began, and it kept on and on whilst I stood there in utter mortification. The laughing echoed all around me like one of those warped nightmare scenes in a movie and all the while my cheeks were burning and my eyes were filling with tears of sheer embarrassment until it suddenly hit me. I realised that they weren't all laughing at me - they were laughing with me. Comraderie was out in force and I was being embraced by it.
The next 10 minutes saw me receiving advice from staff and the other customers including a Dad who was there with his two teenage daughters. One of his daughters even pitched in by telling me not to leave anything out or skip pages like her mum did.
Eventually the older sales lady kindly took over and led me to a section where they had quite a range of books to choose from. She helped me select two books. The first one was called Let's Talk About Where Babies Come From. It is a totally child friendly book that covers babies, bodies, love, sex and reproduction. The second book was called the Secret Boys Business and covers all details of the physical and emotional changes of puberty. Yay I had books!
That night after we put our 4 year old to bed and I had dosed myself with my beloved Coping Cordial, we sat down with our 6 year old and 10 year old for our chat.
I am not going to go into what we discussed but I will tell you that my hubby and I were completely surprised by how much our ten year old actually knew already. Apparently he knows how to Google too.
We kept it simple and keep it age appropriate. Kids don't need to much detail. The first part of our chat was about babies and how they are made and then how they are born. We answered our 6 year olds questions and when he was satisfied with the basics we gave him he was eager to head off upstairs to watch The Nutty Professor in bed.
A few more swigs of Vodka and it was time to tackle our 10 year old and the subject of puberty. I won't lie - this was really awkward and uncomfortable for me as we covered some really squirmy topics about boys and puberty. To his credit my hubby jumped in when he saw I was struggling and answered things from his own male perspective, you know one man to another kind of thing. I was very proud of my son - he was incredibly mature about it all and asked some very well thought out questions. In all honesty - I think I was the only one acting like an immature school girl blushing at some of the topics we discussed.
All in all - I would say it was a success and in hindsight it really was not as bad as I had expected.
I was lucky to be given a lot of advice (thank you to my lovely readers and to Kristy at The Imperfect Mum who put it out to her readers on my behalf). If I could share any of the best advice with you it would be these top points.
- If you have kids of different ages who have been asking questions, cover the basics with them as a family and then send the younger ones off to do something else whilst you get into the more nitty gritty stuff with the older ones.
- Keep it simple and use child friendly books to help you explain things in a way your kids can comprehend.
- Call the bits and pieces by their proper names. It may feel a little more uncomfortable saying words like semen out loud in front of your kids but it will stop them being confused at a later date.
- Don't wait for your older children to ask you about sex and puberty as they may never actually ask. Puberty can happen anywhere usually from age 8 to 16, so you may find your kids are going through some confusing personal experiences and not only do you not know about it, but they are too embarrassed to come and ask for your help. It is much better that they hear the facts from you rather than have them ask their friends at school.
- Choose a time when you have no distractions and you can take as long as your child needs to ask ALL the questions they have.
- Explain to your kids that this discussion is between you and them and not their school friends. We told our kids that their friend's parents are responsible for telling them all the facts - not you.