Friday, February 3, 2012
Oddly enough telling our children that we have been playing Santa for the past ten years and telling them about sex, seems to developmentally occur around the same time. This year my younger son (fourth grade) did not write a letter to Santa, did not set out cookies and milk and seemed relatively unthreatened that Santa was watching and he better snap to. At the same time, he and all of his friends are all ears, giggling when the word sex is mentioned and his eyes are glued to the screen during kissing scenes.
Hence – my dilemma – Santa or Sex. Which do I tell him about first? As luck would have it, I have a fifteen year old and can draw upon that experience five to six years ago to guide me. I recall discussing both Santa and sex with my older son but I cannot for the life of me remember which one‘s truth was first revealed.
The Santa discussion I believe was in the fall, before Christmas and I encouraged him to now be a Santa for his younger brother and sustain his belief. He took it pretty well, with a little surprise but I thought he understood until Christmas Eve when he frequently kept checking the Santa tracker on TV. I remember thinking, didn’t we just go over the existence of Santa and why is he constantly checking on Santa’s whereabouts? I didn’t mention it at the time and by the next year he seemed to have adjusted. Perhaps, he was in a transitional phase. Understood. I’m still not over it.
The sex discussion, I believe was the following spring near the end of school after his 11th birthday. I went to the library and after looking over several books on “breaking the news” I selected one that was “middle of the road.” Some were all about the egg and sperm and really skirted the intercourse issue by saying “when the Mommy and Daddy hold each other really close.” Hmmm. At the other end of the spectrum, there were books that were committed to discussing the pros and cons of a variety of condoms. Okay – we weren’t there yet. In the end I selected something that described some of the biology and got down to it with a paragraph that described intercourse. At last – the defining paragraph.
I brought the book home and set up a time to read it together with my older son; quite a change of pace from our usual morning ritual of reading Harry Potter together. Nonetheless, I was committed to sharing the good news. He took it all really well and seemed a bit bored actually until the “defining paragraph.” Although the date escapes me, I recall him saying –“Could you read that paragraph again?”
After rereading the paragraph, I asked him if he had known that. He answered honestly that he had not and then came the classic question “Do you and Dad do that.” Despite my relative ease with the topic, I owned up to it only happening once by saying, “We had your brother didn’t we?” My older son is adopted so that answer would make sense to him but it also opened up a new door about his biological parents.
The ensuing discussion went well focusing on the reproductive qualities of sex rather than the pleasure factor. My husband promised a follow-up discussion but that did not happen for at least a year. In the meantime, I had my own follow-up discussions covering such topics as protection, masturbation,” no means no”, legalities, i.e., you are seventeen and your girlfriend is sixteen. Many of these topics were covered on car rides when my son and I were alone, he was seated up front and I unfairly had a captive audience. Whenever, I embarked on one of my information sessions, I usually got an “Oh Mom,” but I did notice how sweet and attentive he was with his girlfriend a couple of years later. I tried to have a tone that communicated a healthy but responsible attitude towards sex. Somewhere along the line, I think he now knows that we had sex more than just the time we conceived his brother. Whatever.
I believe as a child I may have learned about Santa first. I recall my Mom telling me about Santa and confiding that my older brother, David, already knew and had been keeping up the charade. As to sex, I recall pestering my Mom about how one became pregnant. When she broke the news calmly about intercourse, I was shocked, really shocked. One would think that I would have had an inkling. After all, my mom had already informed me about menstruation and how babies were born. Furthermore, we had a small farm and there was a virtual sex arena in our backyard as the cows gave each other “piggyback rides”. One would think, but no I was shocked. The conversation did not stop there. I beleaguered my mom with question after question. My brother had apparently heard the news and walked away without a question. I think there could be the same outcome in our home: my older son took it quite calmly and my younger son will be filled with questions. And why not. It’s worth questioning.
So – Santa or Sex. I’m not sure yet but perhaps next fall as my younger son is in 5th grade and Christmas is around the corner, an opportunity will present itself and my dilemma will be solved. You see, it truly will be Santa or Sex; somehow, the topic comes up at the same time. But if I had my druthers, there would be a Santa and then my problem really would be solved.
Diane Lachtrupp Martinez