Friday, May 27, 2011

Not Makin' Whoopee

I promise this entry will not contain graphic or lurid details of sex education.

Honest. I promise.

It’s more about values, and how we pass on moral messages to our children and fortify ourselves as role models. You know, do as I say and do.

On the way home from school yesterday, Miguel shared with me the day’s sex education lesson.
Kids can ask any question they want. The question was: Which is better, oral or anal sex?

“It wasn’t my question,” he said.

“What did the teacher say?” I asked. For some reason, the question was posed to the language arts instructor, not the science one, who teaches the unit.

“She said, ‘That’s a personal question,’ Miguel said. “So which is better?”

I will not divulge my answer, nor reveal my response to his next question: “Have you ever had oral sex?”

My answers are unimportant. I will admit that I was speechless as he fired his questions much more rapidly than I felt equipped to answer.

I always knew I’d be Miguel’s go-to guy for all matters of sex, relationships, love, etc. Verna ceded that responsibility to me when Miguel was a toddler by virtue of our shared gender. Even though I am fully committed to offer age-and-developmentally appropriate honesty to my children about sex, my conversations with Miguel have always been slightly awkward.

He first asked me about babies and sex when he was eight. After I gave him a very brief introduction into sexual reproduction, he looked at me as if he’d just swallowed castor oil and raw eggs. From time to time, as he’s approached puberty and adolescence and his body has begun to change, there have been additional talks. I have tried to be as matter-of-fact as possible. Call me Jack Webb, Mr. Dragnet: just the facts.

Oh, I editorialize. I’ve thrown in a few things about protection, emotional readiness, not wanting to be a grandfather for at least 15 years. I am not even sure I needed to go in a few directions, but Miguel’s teachers have informed us parents that teenage sex (oral and otherwise) happens earlier and earlier.

Yes, I shudder. At 13 I was content to stand in the lunch line close enough to girls to inhale the fragrance of their shampoo. The world may have changed slightly when it comes to the sexes and sex in the 21st century.

So when I got back to work yesterday, a little addled after Miguel put me on the spot, I sought out the comfort of two male co-workers. They laughed with me as I retold the car conversation, and then one said, “It’s great that he could talk to you.”

And that’s when it hit me: yes, it is great he can talk to me. And he wanted to converse with me. I have not initiated a conversation yet about sex education. He was the one who came to me with the permission slip, and Miguel has usually shared with me the various sex education lessons. I have confined myself to asking the very general, “How was school today?”

To which he invariably replies, “Fine.”

Or I might say, “What’d you do in school today?” and he will offer, “Not much.”

But with sex education, I haven’t paid closer attention to the unit than any others. Partly because I am swamped with life, work, and just getting the kids fed, to school, and to their activities.

I do know, however, the awesome responsibility I have. And it’s not really about sex. Miguel barely has girls on his radar. He texts a few, but they are in the larger context of reaching out to friends. It is really about learning how to navigate the emotionally confusing and often physically awkward world of relationships, friendships, and the delicate social dance of teenagers.

Several weeks ago, after I mentioned a new female friend, he said, “Is she hot?”

“Miguel, that doesn’t matter,” I said, feeling as if I were banging my head against a wall and wondering if he was actually listening to me. “It’s what’s on the inside.”

But I bought him two posters of Megan Fox, which now adorn his bedroom wall, so what message is really bounding through him?

Welcome to my contradiction.

I still hope (and pray) Miguel learns about girls, young women, women, relationships, and, yes, sex, by the examples I’ve tried to set for the past 25 years. Time will, um, tell. I am not sure I want to know all the questions, but I am ready with answers.

1 comment:

  1. just beautiful....
    and great writing...what an incredible journey you are on dear one!