Thursday, February 3, 2011
Keepin' It Real.....On The Fast Track Of Life
The last thing I expected when my first born was a little boy, was that he and I would be having his first sex talk. At five years of age. My husband was working late, so Joshua was sleeping with me. Or I thought we were sleeping. It was dark and it was quiet. All of a sudden I heard Joshua stirring around. And he began to talk. He asked me, where did babies come from. Now, for those of you who know Josh personally, you will know, what I am about to tell you is exactly the way that conversation went down. For others, you may think I could have handled it differently. Let me assure you, Joshua is my brain child. He reasons with intelligence more so than common sense sometimes. And though he was only five years old, I was already well aware of this fact. Nothing but the truth would do.
I began, as any parent would do, with the story of baby Jesus, it's a miracle, etc. My story lasted about 10 minutes. I finished. And was quite proud of myself. Because Joshua had listened intently without saying a word. Another dodged bullet. It was quiet for about two minutes. And then he said, "But Mama, HOW are babies born?" Now, we all know our children. Better than ourselves sometimes. Joshua was not the child to be put off. And I knew this. I heard it in his tone, and I knew, I had to answer his question. Or he would never believe in me again.
So, I started again. And explained it all as "clinically" as I could. Again, he never said a word. Just listened. I was pure sweating by the time I was through. Finally, I was done. And I laid there, waiting to be questioned again. Finally, after all of that, he finally spoke. And he asked me one, and only one, question. He said, "Mama, does that mean you didn't have any panties on"? I sucked my last drop of breath in and said, "Yes Joshua, that's what that means". He then said "Eww", rolled over, and went to sleep.
The next time Joshua and I would re-visit the "discovery" conversation, he was six years old. His first grade teacher called me at home one night. Said that she had caught Joshua and a little girl classmate "talking and touching" during lunch time. She told me the little girl had 3 older brothers, and thought that maybe I might need to "check" on Joshua and see what all they had been talking about. That she intended to speak to the little girls mother as well, but that she was more worried about Joshua.
When I got off the phone, I went to Josh's room to talk to him. I started off by asking about his day. He calmly told me, I had already asked him that. Which I had. See, I told you already how he was. Anyway, I took another tact. I was honest and told him his teacher had called, and she was worried that maybe he and Caitlyn had been talking about things they shouldn't. I explained to him "boy talk" and "girl talk" and the "no touching in personal areas" rule. And I figured it was time for the body parts talk. What we do and do not touch on other people, talk. I explained all of his body parts, using the proper names and what their uses were. Asked him to please keep his hands to himself. Only talk to Mama and Daddy about those personal things.
The next day, I am picking him up from daycare. And before we can even get out of the daycare door, he is LOUDLY telling me, "Mama, you told me wrong yesterday, Caitlyn said those (as he blatantly points) are my balls". I swung around, grabbed his hand, and was trying to hustle him out of the building and telling him to hush all at the same time. We get outside, and he is repeating himself...just as loudly. I just stopped and looked at him and said "Joshua, I said hush, we will talk about it when we get home". I was flustered beyond belief. My mind was racing..worrying about where all of THIS was going to end up.
That was a Friday night, which was always McDonald's Happy meal night. We were in the drive thru, I had placed his order and he began again. Instead of stopping him this time, I asked him, exactly what he and Caitlyn were doing when they were talking about all of that..and WHY where they talking about that after I asked him not to do that? Well, Joshua was never one to be deterred. As far as he was concerned, I was the one in the wrong. I gave him false information. It was my fault. I knew I would not win this discussion the way we were going, so I told him as soon as we got home, I would explain it to him. I would explain what she was saying and why. He didn't look very pacified but he settled down somewhat.
As soon as we got home, and I mean as SOON as we walked in the door, he asked me again. So I calmly told him. I did tell him the right words, for the right body parts. I told him that sometimes, other people used slang words, words that weren't the right words, for our body parts. I told him to pull his pants down, and look down there. To look and he would see. He did what I said, and as he looked back up at me, I wish you could have seen his face. It was if the heavens were singing, the sun was shining, and the light bulb had gone off in his head. He was grinning from ear to ear, and he said "Ohhhhh...that's why she called them balls, because they're round like balls". Worn out and in distress, I said "Yes, son, that's why she called it that. Now pull up your pants, wash your hands, and go eat your Happy Meal."
At 16, Joshua and I had our last discovery discussion. And again, for those of you who have read my stories, or know my son personally, you will know, some of this last recollection is no longer relevant. No longer a worry. For me or for Joshua. During his earlier teenage years, unbeknown to me, Joshua was still trying to figure himself out. Who he was, what he was about. During this time he was dating girls. One particular girl was giving me cause for worry. I felt she was a little more "advanced" than Joshua. I had already seen some behavior that was setting my radar off. I had already discussed it with Joshua, but I was beginning to feel like my concerns were falling on deaf ears. I decided to wake them up. Their ears. His and her ears.
Joshua had lived with me long enough at that point, that he was not startled when I told him I wanted to have a discussion with both him and his girlfriend. Together. He was however, a little unprepared for exactly what came out of my mouth once I got started. I have already told you all. I have an open house. I believe in saying what needs to be said. I believe in telling it the way you want it heard, so that there are no misunderstandings. And that is the premise I took, when I began to speak.
I told them both, that I had no idea what they were doing. I was not stupid enough to believe that even though I had spoken to Joshua about "waiting", that I could control either one of them. But that I wanted her to understand, that Joshua had big plans for his life. He had those plans for as long as I could remember. And those plans did not include babies, or early parenthood. That he was on the fast track for a full and productive life. That he was destined to do and be great things. That if she wanted to get on that train, she'd better get with his program, or get off and step aside. I would not stand by and let him mess up his life by simply being a teenager who did not take take his responsibilities seriously by not taking care of himself. That he knew what he needed to do to protect himself and if she was smart, I expected her to do the same. That neither one of them needed to trust the other to "take care of anything". That there was no room for error. They needed to make sure they took care of themselves.
I can remember when Joshua was five years old, and I retold that first story to my mother. She seemed to be shocked and stunned that I thought that conversation was necessary. For such a young child. I explained to her that I knew, nothing but the truth would do for Joshua. I have known that all of his life. All of our lives together. I knew it again when he was six years old, as he swapped words with Caitlyn, the little girl with the three big brothers. And again, when he was a sixteen year old boy, trying to keep up with a seventeen year old girl.
That last conversation I just relayed, was very similar to the one I had with Zachary this past year when he began to date. Our conversation only involved he and I. But it was just as serious and just as honest. I left nothing to doubt. And I am pretty sure, I was very clear. He seemed to be very uncomfortable, of course, but there was no lack of understanding on his face. I was sure of that before I decided we were finished. I'm sure some of you may be thinking, that I could have left that conversation for Mims to have with Zachary. But sometimes, I have the fear, that the good old boy network will take over, and important parts may slide. Slip through the cracks. Or get left out. I can't allow that to happen. I have to know, there was no mistaking what was being related.
I have never regretted my measures of protection or depths of my conversations with my sons. My goal has always been for them to understand me as clearly and concisely as possible. I think it's the only way. It's important to me, that they both achieve what they were put here on this earth for. I want them to be everything they need and want to be, before they HAVE to be everything life expects them to be. But that's me. That's how I roll. And so far. It's working.