I am a terrible mother. Not for the usual reasons that I think I’m a bad mother, though those are many.
I don’t give my daughter all organic food, and if the truth be told she’s seen the inside of several McDonald’s (*astonished gasps from the audience*). Before she was even close to being old enough to read, she could easily recognize the large billboard logo of the corporate evil that is Wal Mart.
Plus, much to my mother’s dismay—and besides the fact that my mother was neither Catholic nor Jewish, she had a corner on the guilt market—Leah slept in my bed on and off until she was ten-years-old, probably increasing her need for therapy. She doesn’t always go to bed on time. I am constantly worried that I don’t expose her to enough fine art, quality literature, and great culture. Sometimes (wait for it here) we eat in front of the television.
All of those maternal shortcomings, however vast they may be, are not why I’m losing sleep of late. It’s… S E X.
I have read all of the parenting books that tell me I should talk to my child naturally and often about sex. I watch shows that suggest I use popular songs and media topics as a springboard to bring the subject up naturally into conversation.
What ends up happening is something very different. I wish there were scripts to follow for this (like Sex Talk 1, Sex Talk 2, and so on) or maybe a Sex Information Camp I could send her to which would absolve me of the responsibility (I picture it being something like the Cheerleading and Horseback Riding camps I’ve sent her to in the past only they’d learn all they needed to know about smooching and...everything else.
As I often do when faced with a difficult solo parenting problem, I ask myself WWLGD (What Would Lorelai Gilmore Do?). She would probably handle the issue with humor, ease, style, and finesse. However, my efforts have been more like a cross between Lucille Ball and June Cleaver. It makes me uncomfortable, and Leah senses that and feels uncomfortable too. It usually goes something like this:
Me: Hey that song reminds me that girls are not just sex objects, ya know? (trying to sounds hip and cool)
Leah: (horrified) We’re not going to talk about this again, are we?
Me: Well, all the books say we should talk about sex a lot and I want to make sure you don’t have any questions. Do you understand how everything works? (putting my hand on her arm)
Leah: (rolling eyes) Yes, I do. Mom, I get it. I’m a unique and special snowflake. I’ll kick anyone who tries to do something I don’t want, ok?
Me: That’s not all honey. Sex is beautiful when it’s right, but I just want to make sure that if you have any questions you can ask me. I could never ask my mom.
Leah: (double eye roll) Puhlease don’t tell me about the book that Granny bought for you and my aunts again. If I have to hear about the pictures of flowers getting pollinated one more time…and I know that’s not how people do it, ok?
Me: (uncertain) All right, but I love you so much.
Leah: I know mom, now can we go to Hollister?
I’ve asked friends for advice and they’re not much help either. One girlfriend said that she went into her daughter’s room every day and announced, “If you’re going to have sex, use a condom.” Another recommended a book, which I held off on ordering for a long time since I did in fact have bad memories of learning about the “Birds and Bees” from the book my mother gave Mary, Allyson, and me. While very colorful, it wasn’t exactly the most accurate piece of scientific information.
I finally bought the book which is called s.e.x. and it is by Heather Corinna (her website is here), and I have to say that Leah and I are both learning something. I will tell you that Corinna is more progressive than the birds and bees book and maybe more on the liberal end of the spectrum than some people would like. However, for us, I think it’s good. She deals with everything from homosexuality to kissing to sexual abuse to cybersex to friends with benefits. She EVEN has a chapter on Internet dating.
Most importantly, I think Lorelai would approve.
copyright © 2010 Tiia Jones