Let’s talk about sex, baby.
I hardly ever do that. I’ll leave it to Renee from Teachers and Twits, who is my guest poster for Around the Bonfire today.
I find myself gravitating to blogs like Renee’s because she has a kid older than my own. She faces a lot of difficult questions with parenting a teen. They could fill an ocean, and I am just starting to dip my toe into those waters myself. I am reassured and encouraged when I read her stories: it won’t be easy, I will screw up, I will be racked with indecision, I will cry and have my heart ripped out watching my kids grow, but I can do this.
She’s doing it, and that inspires me. So her post today was perfect, because it’s one of those Things I’ve Been Thinking About – a difficult topic for any parent – how to communicate and instill your own values about sexuality into your kids. We’d both love to hear your thoughts!
My 12-year old son recently shared his 7th grade yearbook with me, so I pulled out one of mine from a box in the basement.
As I flipped through, I remembered that in 1982, a guy named Tad* was a major theme.
“Who’s Tad?” Tech asked, his eyebrows arched a little.
“Just a boy I liked.”
My son saw people wishing me luck with Tad.
He also saw a disproportionate number of people leaving me ominous messages, warning me to be careful.
Geoff, especially, got all up in Tad’s grill!
“You’d better watch out for Tad. Seriously, be careful.”
I remembered reading everyone’s comments in 1982 and being like: Whaaaat? Why is everyone telling me to behave myself and watch out for Tad? It isn’t like he is going to break my heart or anything.
In reality, I wasn’t listening to what anyone said about Tad. The boy could draw. He was charming. And he could wear a pair of Levis like nobody’s business. Plus, he was going to be a Senior. Yeah, I didn’t want to hear anything negative about Tad.
“Did you go out with Tad?” my son inquired, snapping me back into present tense.
“For a while.” I closed my yearbook and put it aside.
“Did you love him?” Tech probed, but before I could answer, friends rang the doorbell and he disappeared to play Capture the Flag.
So what happened to Tadénee?
In February of 1983, Tad and I were in his bedroom fooling around – and, if my parents are reading this, I mean we were listening to The Who — when Tad made his announcement.
“We’ve been together for seven months. I think it’s time you give me a blowjob.”
He said if I didn’t, he would find someone else who would.
While the world spun, I tried to check his math on my fingers.
Had we been together that long?
I suppose we had — if you counted the eight weeks we’d been apart over the summer.
Roger Daltrey crooned in the background.
I looked behind Tad’s blue eyes and blushed. “I want to break up,” I said, undoing the clasp on the heart necklace he had given me a few months earlier and setting it on his nightstand.
I was certain he was bluffing, that he was going to change his mind about the whole “finding someone else” thing. I mean, who was going to be a better girlfriend that I was? Hadn’t I decorated his locker with wrapping paper when he turned 17? Hadn’t I baked him cookies and passed him love notes in the halls? Hadn’t we made out under the bleachers?
I was sure he was going to say we could just forget about the whole BJ thing.
Except he didn’t.
And when he drove me home that afternoon, he didn’t kiss me goodbye.
In the days that followed, Tad stopped talking to me at school.
I thought about calling and telling him I’d changed my mind.
That I was ready to do it.
Except I wasn’t.
Tad started hanging out with another girl. She was pretty, so I hated her. He seemed happy, and I assumed he was getting what he wanted.
As I flipped through my yearbook 25+ years later, I thought more about my son’s question.
“Did you love him?”
It occurred to me that whatever I felt about Tad was irrelevant. When he gave me that ultimatum, I knew he didn’t love me. I wasn’t ready to do something, and he wasn’t willing to wait.
Since my son has become interested in girls, I know we will need to talk about these issues because kids are “getting’ busy” earlier these days. I want to encourage Tech to have friends of both sexes and resist sexualizing relationships in junior high, but it is hard when he is bombarded with images of women in short skirts and high heels with pouty, wet lips. It is difficult to imagine my son would ever think of a woman solely in terms of what she might be able to provide him in terms of physical pleasure, but I don’t really know what he is thinking right now.
If my husband and I say nothing, we will miss the opportunity to deliver our message regarding sexual values. And I don’t want him to treat someone the way Tad treated me.
This is not the time to be timid.
Rhianna is certainly not shy about communicating her sexual values, and she is much louder than I am.
How do you communicate your values about sex? How do you teach without preaching? How do you decide which bits of your past to share?
*Author’s Note: While this story is true, it should be noted that the guy I liked was not named Tad. Who would be interested in a guy named Tad? Tad is a guy on a soap opera. No offense to any Tads out there.