Yes, I’m talking about ‘The Talk’. The holy grail of sex education. That moment between parent and child when all things sexual are revealed. The boogieman of parental confrontation.
I know, I know, you’re probably asking yourself why the heck is this guy talking about ‘The Talk’ when his son is only four. Well, you see. That’s my point. It beings now.
The other day my son woke up with an erection (yes, I said it). I noticed when he went to the bathroom (he leaves the door open like every other boy in the universe). I reminded him to aim down to make sure he got everything in the bowl (Yes, I know. Some men never really master this art). That was it, really. No big deal. Then I thought to myself “Self. I bet you were curious at 4 why things are different – why things change.”) Honestly, I’m not sure if I thought that when I was four or not. I did though, as a father of 44, sense it was time to start the conversation.
Flash back a moment. I can’t remember any real conversations with my dad about sex or my body. I remember learning about anatomy from school in sex ed back when they taught boys and girls together (does that still happen?). I also remember learning from the other boys. Ah yes, let’s sneak into the older boys clubhouse and steal their magazines – that ought to teach us what we need to know, right? By the time I was figuring things out, I had already established a sense of uncertainty and embarrassment around the subject. Something I tell myself could have been avoided had I known what was going on with me as things were starting to change.
I digress. As we got into the car, I asked my son if we could talk about something. This sets up the ‘oh man, dad’s going to say something he wants me to hear moment.’ I said “Hey buddy. Do you think it’s weird that your penis gets bigger sometimes?” “Not really daddy.” He said. I continued “You know, that happens to every boy, everywhere.” This one caught his attention. “Really?” He said. “Really.” I said. “It even happens to daddy.” He simply replied “That’s pretty cool.”
I can’t tell you what difference it made, if any, that we had that conversation. I like to think it had an impact in some little way. And a bunch of those small impacts will help guide him into adolescence and beyond with security, confidence and strength in knowing who he is. I can dream, can’t I?
The moral of this story? There is no sex-talk boogieman. There’s a collection of conscious conversations that, in time, teach your child their development is part of the natural process and we all go through it – like it or not.