It is one of the scariest things about being a parent. It’s one of the scariest things about being a teenager. It’s been known to turn grown men into quivering piles of embarrassed goo. It is The Talk.
I hear about parent groups protesting Sex Ed in schools and I wonder what the hell is wrong with them. I am abjectly grateful that health class covered enough of the basics that I don’t have to explain how babies are made.
I accidentally ended up having The Talk with my teenage sons the other day. It was actually easier that way. No one had time to psych themselves up and get nervous, and we were already in a somewhat relaxed conversation. You may be wondering how I accidentally ended up Talking with my boys, well here’s the story.
I going to give you a little family background first, or else I’ll be skipping all over the place later. My family consists of my husband and I, our two fourteen-year-old sons and our daughter, who just turned six. No, the boys are not twins, they are step-brothers who are only three months apart. I haven’t used the term “step-son” in years, but I will here for the sake of clarity. The boys were four years old when we got engaged. My son’s father lives a few hundred miles away, so they visit twice a year for summer and Christmas. My step-son’s mother is rarely “in the picture” as the saying goes, so for all intents and purposes we did away with the “step-” a long time ago. The only time it comes up is when someone asks how they managed to be three months apart.
My husband and I both ended up becoming parents at a young age. I was 22 when I had my son, which is young but still kind of an adult, my step-son was born twelve days after my husband’s eighteenth birthday. We have, somewhere around here, a prom picture of mom, dad and baby. As a result, my husband is a little paranoid about the boys having sex.
Last week I discovered that my step-son has been skipping drill practice once or twice a week to hang out with friends instead. As I was driving up to get him up after practice I caught him crossing the street, jogging from Chick-Fil-A back to school. I had had my suspicions, and was planning on talking to him about it that afternoon anyway, so I was fairly composed about the whole thing. He admitted that he had only been going to about half his practices and was spending the rest of the time just hanging out.
I try not to punish when I am angry, and I was angry. I also felt used, so I gave myself a while to answer his “How much trouble am I in” question. I called my husband, we discussed it, and I was ready to bring in the verdict. I had a talk with him, and my other son came by for the second half because it concerned him as well (it was about what to do if you want to hang out after school and the proper way to ask for a ride home from mom). When we were done he looked up at me with his big soulful eyes and asked if Dad was going to be really mad when he got home. My husband has a flash-paper temper. It flares up big and fast and dies down pretty quickly. Since he had prior warning I told the boy that he wouldn’t be that mad by the time he got home, but he was going to want to ask him if he was skipping practice to have sex. His response was touchingly genuine confusion about why his dad would think he was having sex while hanging out with his friends. I reminded him that his dad was still in high school when the boy was born, so a part of him assumes that any time said boy lies to us it’s because he is out impregnating girls. We all know it’s irrational, but he can’t help it. The boy looked at me with growing horror and asked “He’s not going to want to have a Talk with me when he gets home is he? Because we learned all that stuff at school.” I was about to answer when I had to stop. I thought for a second and said “Well, you learned the basics at school, but it’s still up to your parents to fill in the details,” and just like that we were Talking.
I won’t go into detail, there was a lot of groaning, blushing and laughing, but we got through it. When I have long important conversations with the boys, I usually end by repeating the bullet points that I really don’t want them to forget. From this conversation the big ones were:
Don’t rush into things
Most of what you hear in a locker room is a lie
No Means No
There is never a good enough reason to skip protection.