Elizabeth and I had “the” talk last night and it was… interesting.
I was driving Elizabeth and Emily and Ray somewhere (can’t remember- I chauffeur a lot), when the topic of sex and drugs came up because of Miley Cyrus in “The Last Song”. (What? No rock-n-roll? Have you heard Miley Cyrus? No. No rock-n-roll.) The children were talking among themselves and agreed pretty quickly that drugs were a bad idea. Phew. I relaxed. But no, the conversation wasn’t finished.
“You know, she probably had sex with him,” my too-mature son stated. “Yea,” the girls agreed.
“Wait a minute,” I said. “Do you know what sex is?” (and for the record, there was no overt sexual situation in the movie).
“DUH, Mom!”, my too-mature son said.
“Yea, Mom,” Elizabeth chimed it. And having few filters, she proceeded to tell me. In detail. Luckily for my nerves, she doesn’t have the vocabulary for all of the parts or processes, so there were a lot of “things” and “stuff”, but she had an idea of what was happening. Unfortunately, while she was describing something, she wasn’t describing it– the real “this is what gets you pregnant” stuff. (For the delicacy of the readers, and because this is not the Dr. Ruth blog, I’m not going to tell you what she was describing, but suffice to say that it was a common variation.) Needless to say, she was waaaaaayyy beyond the “grownup kind of hug” that we had discussed before. Ray and Emily were dissolving in fits of giggles, but Elizabeth was quite matter-of-fact about it. I ended the conversation with a “Well, we can talk about that later, and Emily, you need to talk to your mom about this.”
So, during bedtime tuck-in last night, we had “the” talk, the one where the body parts are named, labeled, and how they all fit together was described- and what consequences there might be. It was a biological talk. It was a factual talk. It was not a “fearful” talk, but it was an interesting one.
Her first reaction was a sensory one. “EWWW! You and Daddy have done that TWICE?” I tried not to laugh, I really did. I kept a straight face and informed her that some things were private, and that when two people are adults and married, that privacy is very important. She would not be getting details from me.
But… I thought through the implication of that statement of privacy. This is a child who takes things very literally. If you don’t talk about it, well then, it doesn’t get talked about- at least to grownups. So I talked about how if someone were to hurt her or to force her, that she would talk about it. That if she wanted to talk about it at all before she got married, she could talk about it. If she had any questions, she should talk about it with me.
Which is when we disappeared into the rabbit hole discussion of “How do you know you’re ready to get married?” and “Why can’t you talk about it in public?” She was looking for absolutes. She was looking for rules. She wanted to understand, but the shades of gray were confounding her. “When you’re ready to understand the responsibility” and “Because it makes other people uncomfortable” were answers that are beyond Elizabeth’s level of understanding. I finally resorted to “Because it is the way it is“, which is distantly related to the old standby -that I hate- of “Because I said so.”
We lay there in the soft lamplight, snuggled up together as she and I pondered what her new knowledge meant to her. I held my daughter, whose body is still so slight and so small and so much my baby- but whose mind is starting to grapple with adult knowledge and adult issues without the understanding of adult language or adult emotions. She turned over and curled into me, seeking the comfort of Mama.
She needed biological information and she got that. She also got a glimpse of emotional information and she recoiled from that. Some of that is being 9 years old. Some of that is having a touch of autism. Some of that is just her. My baby’s growing up- and I’m not sure she-or I- are completely ready for that.
And yes, I’m aware that this is the first of many talks we will have on this subject. And yes, Ray clearly needs that talk, too. I asked James to have it with Ray, and he looked extremely uncomfortable and said “He’s too young for all of that.” I don’t think that Ray is the one who is too young for this talk…