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!