Posted by on May 1, 2011

A couple days ago I took my son, daughter and my daughter’s friend to the movies. We went to a theater in our historic district which bears an uncanny resemblance to Bourbon St in New Orleans. There are bars, restaurants, nightclubs and shops all up and down 7th Ave, the main drag. I think the only thing missing are the booby bars every 100 yards.

During the day it’s pretty tame with mostly tourists and business people walking around, so as I searched for a parking spot on 7th Ave, I didn’t even stop to consider that my ten year old can now read or that 7th Ave isn’t the most kid-friendly spot in town.

While we were stopped at a light, I heard her say to her friend “Look! Look! Look at that sign.” Me being the nosy parent that I am, I turned to see what she was looking at. I saw nothing unusual so I asked her what she was talking about. She pointed to the window of  popular gay club that was too far back for me to see.

“What? What does it say?”


I turn around and I see her and her friend with these barely-suppressed grins on their faces.

“Are you going to tell me?”



“It says S-E-X”


I try hard to be casual…

“Oh? So what does S-E-X mean?”


I groan internally, while silently thanking her for at least spelling it out since my very curious and freakishly bright five year old was also in the car.

My light turns green. I start driving and drop the questioning.

So this is it.

The first indication ever that she even knows the fricken S word and the first indication that she knows it’s more than a gender reference.

And I know this is an incredibly naive question but exactly how does she know ANYTHING about sex?

I’m the crazy lady that covers up magazines flaunting salacious headlines with Family Circle in the grocery line.

I’m the “parental controls turned up to eleven” nazi.

I’m the mom who fears few things more than her little girl growing up too fast; who wants her  kids to have an actual childhood.

I’d like to find whoever she’s been talking to about S-E-X and kick their A-S-S.

So I guess this means now I have to have a talk with her and totally gross her out with all that penis-in-the-vagina business.

But it means so much more than that. It means the end of little girlhood. It means the end of carefree innocence. It means so much more than knowing the the mechanics of sex—because once your child knows about sex, everything she needs to know beyond those mechanics is far more nuanced and complicated—much more than any ten year old needs to be thinking about.

I know our kids are only on loan to us for little while; that the moment they take their first breath, it’s the beginning of the end of them being OURS.

And I know growing up is what nature intends, that she is mine only because I love her, not because I own her. But that does nothing to quell the ache of watching her race towards a life of her own where I can no longer protect her and keep her safe from the big, bad world.

If I could have a superpower, I’d wish for the ability to time travel so I could revisit my children at various points in their lives whenever I wanted. Knowing those times aren’t gone forever would, I imagine, make all of this a little less bittersweet.


Aaaand I think my period will be arriving any second now, as evidenced by my overtly emotional response to this whole sex thing.

You know, I’m a fairly competent parent. I trust my instincts and I almost always know what to do but these recent developments have me feeling really inept and suffering from a crippling case of melancholy. I can’t be trusted to wing this one.

I know someone out there has gone through this already so I’m asking for your advice and/or cautionary tales. HELP!


  • Apryl's Antics says:

    Dude. There never seems to be a good time to have the “talk”. Most moms, including my own, are blindsided by it, never prepared, and totally dumbfounded. Mine showed up a little less than a year ago at an IHOP, where my daughter finally had a chance to corner me alone without the presence of her little brother’s ears. I am thankful she had the foresight and consideration to do that, which shows some maturity on her part (along with her ability to recognize an unwilling, yet captive audience). I gave her the basics and will spoon feed her the nuances and complications as she goes along.

    If you can harken back to our own childhoods (and mine gets fuzzier by the minute), you may remember some of our conversations and know that there’s a lot we talked about that would have shocked our parents. Now we’re getting to feel what it might have been like for them!!! Ugh. :)

    • IzzyMom says:

      Everything I knew about sex by age 12 came from HBO, Tina D’s older sister and Lola, their French foreign exchange student. My mom gave me a book about periods and that was it. I can’t blame her though…I mean look how much *I* don’t want to have this talk.

  • zchamu says:

    Sigh. Dude, I have no advice. But I get you. If you find a way to figure out that time travel thing I AM SO ON IT.

    Mine’s still only little. Do you think it would have been better if you explained S-E-X when she was super small? I’m wrestling with that now. Then it won’t be a big looming thing when she turns 14. Or 10. Gah.

    • IzzyMom says:

      I’ve often wondered the same thing. I even considered it at one time but I was afraid she’d tell all her friends and parents would ban her from playing with them… GAH. (If there’s something to worry about, chances are I’ve thought of it)

  • mommygeek says:

    Man my kids are still young but that conversation terrifies me. My four year old already is starting to read signs and ask me what they say. At least we live in the suburbs! Eek!

    I have no advice, just best wishes. And vodka.

  • jessica says:

    one day I will share w/you what happened re: my 7 year old regarding this topic. I was blown away and not in a good way

  • Miss Britt says:

    Oh, lady. I took my son out for a special dinner last year (when he was ten) to have The Talk.

    On purpose.

    And you know what? He already knew a LOT about sex. Stupid bus kids.

    • IzzyMom says:

      That doesn’t surprise me…I remember how much *I* learned from riding the bus. The dinner thing is a good idea as we’re otherwise almost never alone and if we are, she’s talking on the fricken phone with her friends—PROBABLY ABOUT SEX!!!


  • I have had this conversation with both of my children. Normally it is hard to ruffle my feathers or make me stutter, but my daughter managed to do it.

    She asked a question that didn’t occur to my son or to me. I had never thought about it, at least not from a teaching standpoint.

    Hate to admit it, but I punted. Looked at her and said that it was a mommy question. I never do that.

    • IzzyMom says:

      Jack! How could you do that to her! (Ha…I kid. I’d do the same if I could but something tells me that this is going to be my job whether I like it or not)

      I do appreciate hearing from the dads, though. This certainly isn’t a topic limited to mothers and daughters.

    • Here is the short version:

      Daughter reads a kids book about how babies are made to her doll. Later on she comes to me and says, I know that you put it in, but how far does it go?

      Got a great answer for a group of men. Got a great answer for my son- but my daughter not so much. Wanted to tell her something fatherly and reassuring but I was too busy thinking about how many boys I am going to have to kill for trying to share their friend with her.

      That conversation was punishment for past transgressions on my part. ;)

  • Anissa says:

    You know. I told Nathaniel puberty was something you caught from mold in your locker.

    Lie like any good parent!!

  • Piera says:

    My son, Lucas is only 3 years old so your post scares the crap out of me. Why do they have to grow up so fast???

    I like Anissa’s explanation a lot though. Think I’ll steal that one when the time comes, which will probably be way too soon.

  • roo says:

    Honestly, if you wait ’til they’re fourteen, you might as well skip the talk altogether– they will have heard/read/seen enough to make their own opinions about what’s going on– even if those opinions are based on schoolyard tales and half-truths.

    I don’t know. I’m odd man out, here, it seems, but I honestly don’t remember a time when I didn’t know at least the basics of how S-E-X worked– my family was pretty open about it. But… maybe it was how they were open about it– I didn’t feel like we were talking about something naughty, I understood it was something for grown-ups (or at least, what seemed grown-up to me at the time.) I still had a childhood with moments of innocent magic.

    And talking about this stuff with your kids can help keep them safe– help them make good decisions.

    Of course, my child is still in utero. We’ll see how I feel when he comes out and starts asking questions…

    • IzzyMom says:

      Intellectually, I agree 100%. It’s emotionally that I find it so hard to imagine having this conversation. But with each comment, some which scare the crap out of me, I’m getting closer to being okay with it.

  • Barnmaven says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest a great book — “It’s Not the Stork.” I have read it with my daughter a few times, and I have taken a couple of the chapters of the book and brought them up as conversation with my kids. Sure, they squirm. But I want them to hear from me, not from the kids on the playground.

    My mother never discussed sex with me with any level of comfort. I am sad for the years I spent never being able to tell my husband what I liked/wanted. I am determined not to do the same injustice to my own kids.

  • I learned about sex from my friends on the jungle gym during Park Day in kindergarten. “You know in movies when a man and woman are together and she moans? Well, he’s putting his you-know-what in her’s, and it hurts so that’s why she moans.” Scared the crap out of me.

    Years later, a commercial comes on TV telling parents to talk to their kids about safe sex. My dad and I are on the couch. He looks at me, “You know how it’s done, right?” “Yeah.” “Good.” That was it. I still hadn’t kissed a boy at this point, let alone had sex (with another person anyway) so I thought it was pretty funny.

    • IzzyMom says:

      When I was about 14 my stepmom tried to talk to my sister and I and we already knew so much, we just laughed like hyenas at her awkward attempts at a real discussion on the topic. I actually feel really bad about that now :\

      • My husband’s father tried to have the talk with him long after he’d lost his virginity. He said, “Yeah, I know dad. Protection, it’s not a button you push, they’re not radio dials, respect her in the morning.” His dad asked, “Any kids?” “No.” “Well…okay then!”

        Yeah, I’d say we were pretty much made for each other. ;)

  • the muskrat says:

    This is appalling. I got a book. I assume I’ll give my little ones a book, too.

  • Stacey says:

    I hate to scare you, but would like to chime in, especially for the person who mentioned waiting until their child is 14. I am a fifth grade teacher. My students are mostly 10 and 11 when I have them in class. This is my 5th year teaching this grade. In the last 5 years, I could name at LEAST 10 of my students who were ALREADY sexually active. Please do NOT wait. Talk Talk and Talk some more. I guarantee you that she has heard plenty on the playground and in the lunchroom.

    • IzzyMom says:

      God, I can’t even imagine being sexually active at 10 and 11. That’s truly shocking. Fortunately, my daughter is incredibly sheltered and never spends ANY time with boys…for NOW. I realize that’s subject to change. But you’re right about such discussions on playgrounds, in lunchrooms and other places where adults are not listening in. That’s how it was with me, too. Thanks for sharing your experience…hearing from someone on the front lines has been very illuminating.

  • Nellie V. says:

    When my eldest daughter was 10 years old, another child brought a book to school to share on the playground at recess. She had found the book under her parents’ bed and it was full of interesting drawings, photos, and descriptions of various alternative sexual options. I considered calling the mother and asking HER to explain why two girls would be doing what they were doing in that picture. This was 20 years ago! Many !0-year-olds nowadays have seen or heard so much on TV and from their friends about sex of all kinds, they hardly even blink. But back then, I cringed inwardly for weeks when my sweet little daughter blurted out questions about things I didn’t know about until I was in college.

    It was NOT the way I would have chosen to educate my child. Better that you tell her yourself — or choose an age-appropriate book to help open the conversation.

  • roo says:

    Have you seen Julia Sweeney’s video about having “the talk” with her daughter? It is really hilarious. And very sweet.


    (I don’t know how to make the link active, but– there it is.)

  • Whit says:

    My plan is to leave the TV on Cinemax when I’m outside. That should cover everything but the crying.

  • Karl says:

    Ugh, The Talk. Mine with my parents was awkward as hell, but then I can’t imagine it NOT being awkward. Course, they were sort of forced into explaining things after we walked in on them having S-E-X.

  • happy @ahead says:

    when do you think is the best time to talk to kids about sex? my parents never told me about it, i had to learn it in grade school!

  • I’m not looking forward to any of that – that’s exactly why my daughter isn’t allowed to grow up!

  • Haley says:

    I also admit that It’s not easy to explain about S-E-X with our children.I think that it’s better for their teacher teach them

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