Who remembers Gunne Sax by Jessica McClintock?
I know this style is very ’80s.
I love it anyway.
And I wish this was one retro style that would make a comeback.
(Will somebody please drag me into this century?)
(The following post was inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Christine at Naptime Writing. Read on to make yourself feel better about any successes or failures you may have with “the sex talk.”)
My mother was a nurse. And she had me in the 60′s. My dad wore a peace sign necklace and fashioned a dove with an olive branch out of coat hanger, wrapped lights around it and hung it in our living room window for the entire length of the Vietnam War.
I saw my parents naked. They didn’t parade around the home but when I slammed into that bathroom, pleading for more sunflower seeds and yogurt, they never covered up. They just told me, “No. You’ll spoil your dinner.”
They were very open about sex. And what it was/is. We never called our vaginas our hoo-hoos. A penis was a penis. My mother proudly tells the story about the time the babysitter got an earful from her (prodigy) 6 year old daughter of all the proper body parts and what sex really is. (I was nothing, if not a bit precocious.)
I’ve followed my parents open, free-minded example. I’ve done the same with all of my children. When the ultra-sound technician pointed out my son’s “winkie” on the screen my 10 year old daughter could not fight back the giggles. I was bouncing so much on the table trying to hold back the laughter, the tech had to stop the exam.
“What?” she asked. No one said a word. My husband and daughter just shrugged.
But in the car, all the way home? “Winkie?!? Doesn’t she know it’s a PENIS?!? What’s a winkie?!?” my daughter said over and over, cracking herself up every time.
My boys know a penis from a winkie. And they’re not afraid to let me know, either. “Mom? There’s something wrong with my penis!”, “Mom! My penis stands up by itself! Watch!” and “Mom. Did you know that sometimes my penis does stuff that I didn’t even tell it to do?”
But like the story my mother also likes to tell, I’m realizing that truly understanding sex and the significance of our private body parts is wholly dependent on brain development. And maturity. And 5th grade.
“Mom? Is this what sex REALLY is?” I proceed to explain, in fairly graphic detail, the sex act. My mother is surprised.
“Yes, that’s what sex is,” she responds, “We’ve talked to you about this before. And there’s that book we looked at together that explains everything (well, not everything) that we’ve looked through a number of times. Do you want to read it again together?”
“But you and Dad don’t do that, right?” I’m incredulous. I’m completely weirded out. And I remember this moment like it were yesterday.
“Well, when two people love each other…”
Her voice trails off. Because by now, I’ve screamed “Gross!” and run out of the room and slammed my bedroom door.
I couldn’t look my parents in the eye for a week. (My mom always cracks up at this part of the story.)
Just the other day, my youngest son (He’s 8 but so is his brother…for another few weeks, anyway. They’re 10 months apart in age. But that’s another biology lesson. Actually, it involves adoption but it was a fun tie-in, so work with me here.)….my youngest son is in the bathroom, about to hop in the shower. I set the water temp for him and insist that he hurry up and take off his clothes. We’re wasting water. He slaps his hands over his penis and says, “But you can see my penis. I need my privacy.”
Yes. This is the kid that grabs constantly so that we have to have a code word in public. (“Scratch” and then he’s supposed to bring his hands to his head and scratch behind his ear in order to move his hands away) This is the kid who discovers new things about his penis and has to share them with me, his dad, his brother. Not his sister, though. She put a stop to that early. This is the kid who bounds into the bathroom like clockwork after I have stepped into the shower to ask for: snacks, permission to play xBox or watch TV. Suddenly, HE needs his privacy.
You see? It’s all relative. It all depends on where your child is in his development. You can talk about it from the time they are wee-little ones, on and on. You can wait until they’re 10 and try to explain it then.
And their reaction, when they finally “get” what sex really is, will be the same.
Complete and total shock.
And when you least expect it.
We took our family pictures recently. The more kids you have, the more schedules you have to coordinate around, the tougher it is. And this year we dodged a major bullet.
Exactly 2 hours after the photo shoot, my youngest son came down with pink eye. That morning I was struggling with clothes that weren’t too matchy-matchy. Arguing with two little boys who would rather ride scooters at the park then pose for pictures. A daughter who fussed over hairstyles. A husband who snapped and growled because his only day off that week was going to be interrupted for a photo session.
But it was all worth it.
This is what we got….
(Thanks, Merrilymarylee, for reminding me to celebrate the little victories.)
A memoir by a 6-year-old still has me stumped. And it got me thinking about what my own memoir would say, if I were still 6. Some of you, in your comments to my previous post, mentioned a bit of what your memoir would contain. (Thanks for the inspiration Dawn and Tori!)
I’d love to hear more!
Let’s all think back. Waaaaaaay back. And post the memoir you would have had as a six-year-old. It can be a poem. It can be prose. It can be long. It can be short. But all of them will be sweet, I’m sure.
We’ll meet back here on Friday and share!
Sound like fun?
Then get those fingers tapping!
(To all three of the men who read my blog: You are not included in this rant. I have a feeling, especially since you follow my blog, that you are among the enlightened few. And a special note to LLCoolJoe – I apologize in advance for this sexist slant. But I’ve had it up to here!)
Yesterday, I was trying to catch up on my blog reading. I came across this, featured on Nap’s blog, Naptime Writing:
Now, Nap had a lot to say about it. She was annoyed. And you can read all about it here. I watched the ad and thought, “Yeah, but it’s still funny.” So I re-read her post and thought, wait, she’s right. It’s backward. Stereotypical. (Which makes the title of this post all the more amusing.) But my husband is still going to love it.
And he did. He thought it was hilarious.
And then I quizzed him.
Me: So, as a parent, what does the dad do?
Him: Has tea parties with his daughter?
Me: Correct. Now, what does the mom do?
Him: pays the bills, kisses the boo-boos, bakes for the bake sale…
Me: Right. Everything else.
Him: You gotta remember. This is marketing. They’re marketing this minivan to MOMS. Moms who think they do it all.
Me: THINK they do it all?!
Him: Yeah. (All smug and shit. Oops. Sorry. Now I’m starting to talk like a rapper. Word!)
That’s where the discussion ended. I wasn’t going to get into it with him. Because, it’s not news to me. My husband thinks HE does it all, too.
We live a very traditional, stereotypical existence. We even joke about blue jobs and pink jobs. And frankly, I like it that way. I like the way I clean a bathroom compared to him (using actual cleaning products). Or doing the laundry (separating colors). Or cooking (as opposed to opening a can of pinto beans, pouring it over rice and calling it supper.) It works for us.
And oh-so-fortunately, he works outside the home, and I’m able to “stay home.” Which translates to: work (unpaid) at his office one or two days a week, be available for the kids at any hour of the day and run day-to-day household things.
My husband works very hard. He puts in 10-12 hour days. He’s not afraid to work weekends. I’m so very proud of how he has built up his business. He yields success that many others in his field never attain.
But he doesn’t get it.
He has never bathed the boys. I can count on one hand how many times he’s supervised a shower. Wait, make that one finger. The very first time he ever “watched” the boys alone was when they were 3 and 4 years old. And when I came home he said, “That wasn’t so bad,” and the house looked as if a tornado had blown through. On the weekends, my husband’s threshold for patience ends about 4 o’clock on Saturday afternoon. “I can’t get anything done,” he says, sending the boys off to watch TV.
Yes, when we added kids to the mix my workload increased to infinity and beyond! My husband’s extra chores? Not so much.
In Nap’s rant she says that even in 50/50 marriages it abruptly switches to 90/10 once the kids are born. I wholeheartedly agree. It might not be 90/10 in OUR household. More like 80/20. But it’s not my husband’s version of 60/40.
No. Freakin’. Way.
Writing about my divorce yesterday stirred up memories.
And then my blog friend Leslie at Five To Nine wrote about her courageous announcement to her parents when she became engaged at a young age, like me.
I noticed the calendar.
25 years ago today.
Yes, I was a child bride. Well, not a child. 21. But too young to know what I was choosing. Too young for me.
He was 10 years older than me. He had a successful career. He knew what he wanted. Who he was. I was still stifled by my parents. I wanted out. Out from their control. Away from my childhood.
And I was in love. I was following my heart. On that May 11th, 25 years ago, just before going out the door to arrive at the church, Katrina and the Waves came on MTV singing “Walking On Sunshine.”
“Wait,” I said to my sister, “I love this song!”
“We’re going to be late,” my sister said.
“I don’t care. I want this song in my heart today.”
So I sat there, with my hair and make-up expertly done, veil already attached. Wearing blue jeans, t-shirt and flip-flops. Soaking up the song. Singing along. Smiling like a fool.
I was so happy that day. So excited to start my new life.
As soon as it was over we raced to the church to get properly dressed, humming that song, dancing with my sister in the courtyard while we sang.
Every time after, whenever I’d hear that song I’d remember that beautiful day. My wedding day was like a fairytale. I have no bad memories. Nothing went wrong. Not that I can remember, anyway.
And then. Eleven years later. We divorced.
Not that popular of a song anymore, I rarely heard it. But when I did, I would fall into a sad little funk. What was I thinking? How could I have been so blind? I was so stupid.
Slowly, gradually, I’d hear the catchy refrain and I’d catch myself humming along. And I realized, it no longer reminded me of something I’d lost. It reminded me of what I was living now.
“Walking on sunshine. I feel alive. And it’s time to feel good!”
Always the optimist, always glass half full, “Walking On Sunshine” still has a power over me. If it comes on the radio I have to turn it up. If I’m home, I have to dance around the room with a child in hand. I grin like a fool every time I hear it.
Yes, 25 years ago today I took a chance on something that failed.
No. Not failed.
And today I’m experiencing a new chapter – dancing, laughing, singing, crying. I have no idea where this chapter is taking me.
But I’m having a blast while I’m in it!
(This Hey! That Reminds Me! edition was inspired by Elastamom’s post Holland Sucks Sometimes)
In college, taking classes on child development – if my professors were talking about little knee grabbers (anyone under the age of 10)? I tuned out. I was never going to teach the itty bitties. Ever.
In my Adolescent Psych classes I was mesmerized by theory on the development of the brain and how certain areas were still not developed in a teen. The areas that control perceptions of permanence and danger.
Why I couldn’t understand that this would apply to my own children? At every stage of development? I don’t know. Major disconnect.
I breezed through parenting with my daughter. She was easy. Obedient. (Most of the time.) An angel. (Much of the time.)
Then I had boys.
Tiffany, at Elastamom, was sharing some struggles with her daughter. The phrase that struck me was, “She KNOWS better.” How many times have I repeated that phrase in my brain? Countless times. Biting my tongue, so as not to let it escape.
And then? An epiphany.
I read an article in a parenting magazine about impulse control in toddlers. Wait. Scratch that. It was about the LACK of impulse control in toddlers. How their tiny little brains simply could not resist temptation. The logical part of me nodded in agreement. The emotional side of me thought, “But they KNOW better.”
How many times had I asked the boys not to put their hands on the television screen? How many times did we warn them about climbing the furniture? How many times did we say: “Sit on your bottom,” “Don’t run in the house,” “Chairs are for sitting” ?
One afternoon, folding laundry on our breakfast room table, I had a clear view to the family room. My toddler son was watching TV and playing with his cars. His favorite character, Ernie from Sesame Street, was on. Showing his favorite toy, Rubber Ducky. He was talking about how much he loved his toy, how much he loved its squeak, the way it fit in his hand.
My son wanted to touch Rubber Ducky. You could see it in his eyes. He walked over to the television and started to reach out for Rubber Ducky. He saw his right hand reaching for the television screen. He took his left hand and grabbed his right wrist. I could see the tortured look of frustration in his eyes. His left hand trying in a futile attempt to pull back his right hand. And then, his shoulders slumped. Resignation. He let go. And allowed his hand to touch the television screen in an attempt to touch Rubber Ducky.
Then, he remembered I was close by. He looked at me with sad eyes.
He knew better. But he couldn’t help himself. That sweet little part of his brain wasn’t fully developed yet. One part understood the 100 times we had asked him not to touch the television screen. The other part simply wanted to touch Rubber Ducky.
I scooped him up in my arms and hugged him close. I whispered, “Sometimes it’s hard.” I felt his shoulders slump again, this time in relief.
Tiffany is dealing with something much bigger. Her child has Cri du Chat syndrome. But her struggle is real for all of us.
Our children know better. Yet they still fail. They still make mistakes. They struggle, just like us.
What is important, what is critical — is how we choose to respond.