Hollow Tree Ventures parenting humor
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How To Scar Your Kids For Life (the sex talk)

This piece is a combination of a few all-too-true stories I've partly told before, and reading it at Listen To Your Mother-Northwest Indiana in 2014 was truly one of the highlights of my life. Ever since I read something uncharacteristically heartfelt at LTYM-Indianapolis in 2013, I've wanted to get back on stage and read something funny, because apparently I'm not terrified often enough in my regular, daily life. However, I couldn't have asked for a better audience or better reactions - a woman even came up to me after the show and said it was the first time she'd ever laughed so hard she cried, which I'm totally having engraved on my tombstone. So, now that I've gotten your expectations unrealistically high, enjoy! (Or scroll to the video at the end, and I'll even do all the reading for you.)

When it comes to having The Talk, some parents get all fired up about when we should teach our kids about puberty and what, exactly, we should call their... um... whatchamacallits.

In one corner, you have the Informers, who (I'm guessing) start a frank and earnest discussion about sexuality with their children in utero. These parents often use terms that even I, an adult by most standards, barely understand without a medical dictionary (or without giggling).

In the other corner, you have the Avoiders, who would prefer to wait until sometime after college to talk to the kids about their nether-parts. These parents often use words like "nether-parts" instead of... whatever those thing-a-ma-jigs are really called.

While I'm obviously an Avoider by nature, I've pretty much played the sex talk issue by ear with my kids. Some of you probably recognize "play it by ear" as parenting code for, "I ignore it until I absolutely can't ignore it any more. Then, I continue to ignore it for a few more days. Then it comes up again and I have to stall because I was caught off guard, and quite frankly I was hoping they'd forget about it."

I am not suggesting that this is the most effective - or mature - way of handling the subject. I know there are strong arguments with impassioned supporters for empowering our children with the right terminology at a young age. And for the most part, I agree. I know I should put on my Serious Grown Up Face and approach the topic with the gravity and dignity it deserves.

But life is spontaneous, and kids are funny, and I am awkward - which means that, despite my best intentions, sometimes an unexpected discussion about s-e-x devolves into me laughing in a crumpled mass on the floor like a second grader who just heard the word "boobies" for the first time.

I'm not saying I'm proud, but it happens. Also, I mostly blame the children.

Take my toddler, for example. At two, she followed me everywhere, including the bathroom. She didn't really care what I was doing in there, she just wanted to hang out and discuss Polly Pockets until I was finished. Which was fine, until one day when I was on my "lady time" (or whatever you want to call it) and she spied me with my feminine unmentionables. She then came to the obvious conclusion, which she proceeded to announce at top volume to the universe at large:


After that, you'd think I'd at least learn to keep my lady time accessories under wraps, but no. Another time, as I packed for vacation, my oldest daughter spied my tampons. There were roughly a skadillion other things in my bag, but naturally the tampons were what caught her fancy.

"What are those?" she asked sweetly.

"They're just tampons." I used the most casual tone possible, hoping to discourage any further conversation that would likely scar us both for life. We had to be out the door in 20 minutes, and I knew this wasn't going to go well if I had to hurry through it. I needed a chance to formulate my real answer, put on my Serious Grown Up Face, and perhaps drink heavily.

"What're they for?"

"They're for women to use. You don't have to worry about that yet." A tousle of the hair, and... done.

No? Not done?

"But what are they for?"

Obviously some sort of explanation was in order, but I hadn't envisioned The Talk with my eldest daughter transpiring on the hallway floor in front of the linen closet, with the contents of my toiletries bag splayed out on the carpet between us. It's difficult to have a Magical Bonding Moment under those conditions. Trust me.

So I opted to give her the Cliff's Notes description of puberty, and hoped that would temporarily satisfy her curiosity. Mere minutes later, I was wrapping up. "At the end of the month, your body cleans itself out so it can start over. That's where the tampon comes in - it... uhhh... keeps all that stuff from getting on your clothes."

Understandably, she looked puzzled. "You have to use a tampon for that?"

At this point I tried to explain that pads were another option, but she started laughing when I described them as long, soft, absorbent stickers that you put in your underwear. Pretty soon we were both giggling, and I congratulated myself for successfully defusing her questions - without scarring her for life!

I can be so naive sometimes.

As our gales of laughter subsided, she persisted. "But what about the tampon? Do you wipe with it, like toilet paper?"

Oh boy. I was hoping to avoid a whole anatomy lesson, so I said simply, "No, you put it inside your body."

Her smile instantly dissolved into a look of pure shock and horror.

Aghast, she blurted out, "YOU EAT IT????"

Aaaannnnnd scarred for life. Which is why (when it comes to discussing ding dongs and front buns) I am, and shall ever remain, an Avoider by nature.

I hope you enjoyed yourself while you were here - and I hope you come back! Please share inappropriate giggles with me on Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, or subscribe via email so you don't miss a thing!


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