Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sex Education With Different-Style Sons

This is where posts get a little weird, because about a third of my readership is people I know live instead of electronaically, including my two older sons. The two younger sons do not read the blog, which comes into the story later.

It is impossible to speak or write at length on a sexual topic without unintentional double-entendre. This was first pointed out to me at an educational conference on treating sexual offenders, when the main presenter mentioned this in his warm-up remarks. His name, no lie, was Peter Loss.

I will proofread, but if I miss something , class, please try and contain yourselves. Double-entendre is unavoidable because our slang terms for bodily functions are often variations of the most common, multi-meaning words, like come, go, up, down, set, and run. Sorry. Linguistics distraction there.

I have not appreciated until now how much my sex-education skills are geared toward sons who are readers, as I was. I got my sex-education from the shelves of the Manchester Public Library (and hey, I married a librarian. I wonder…), plus a pamphlet my mother left around “anonymously” when I hit puberty. Like it might have come from my younger brother, or the tooth fairy, maybe. My son’s instruction when they were young was verbal, direct, and purposefully a little over their heads technically, so that the information would rocket around in their curious little brains. As they got older, I was more likely to just take opportunities as they arose – "Imus In The Morning" was pretty good for that – and tack on bits of information calculated to direct their curiosity. Notice I did not write “pique” their curiosity, which is rather a coals-to-Newcastle thing for teenage boys.

Because really, who wants to discuss “clitoral stimulation” with…well, with anyone other than your spouse, actually. But if someone can drop the idea to you that “you really want to know about this. Trust me. I’ll explain it in however much detail you want,” that’s usually enough to perk up the ears and leave it at that. No, that’s okay. You don’t have to go into detail. I think this gives me enough to go on. Plus, they are a librarian’s sons as well, with significant research skills in their DNA.

This system completely falls apart with a boy who doesn’t like to read. I have adjusted some over the past few years with the two younger ones from Romania, dive-bombing them with extra packets of information, but they have two added difficulties: both of them, particularly the older, dislike any serious conversation with adults. Small wonder, as most serious conversations resulted in someone being hurt, guilted, or sent away when they were growing up. Secondly, you can’t tell either one of them anything, as they are sure they know, especially the older (again.) Except they don’t. Always some new skill to learn when you're a parent.

I have no idea how you go about this with daughters, by the way, whether they are readers or not. I imagine doctor's and nurse's daughters got set-piece instructions with flip charts and explanations of the diagnostic criteria for amenorrhea.


bs king said...

The only linguistic mis-step I found in this post was "I was more likely to take opportunities as they arose...". Not a big deal, but enough to illicit giggles in any given middle school.

As for my sex ed, my parents were equally sneaky. They gave me a stack of books, pretty much betting that my natural instinct to read any book left lying around long enough would kick in. That seemed to work all right.

Anonymous said...

We are about the same age, so you probably remember the stir the book "Everything you always wanted to know about sex *(but were afraid to ask)" made when it came out. Well, my mother decided that it would be a good thing for me to read and I did. That was a couple of years after some "birds and bees" lectures from my father which, when you are in about 8th grade, you find particularly amusing. But lets just say that there is nothing like hands on experience when it comes to this topic.

The problem with sons who act as if they know everything is that they are more likely to get into trouble carrying that attitude. But its impossible to tell them that. But the younger is now in Ben's capable hands, and I always listened to my older brother (for better or for worse).