So my husband has teased me a bit that lately, some of my writing has taken an interesting turn in that some of the sex scenes I’ve written for my stories are a little steamier than he anticipated. I mean, they’re not graphic Post A inserts into Slot B instructions for the whole encounter or anything. I describe enough for the reader to know “Ah, that’s what they’re doing,” and it’s up to the reader to fill in the rest with their goofy little imaginations, but I could see how people who know me would be surprised about reading those passages.
It’s actually a point of pride for me that I can look at a male reader’s face when he’s trying to describe the scene he just left off and I can sum it up as “the boy must die for his impeccable timing for an interruption?” To which they all nod vigorously.
Why am I bringing this up?
Writer’s are supposed to be good communicators. I have an idea, I express that idea to you, perhaps you visualize things a bit different than I did, but we’re both on the same page. We understand each other. We may argue about how we thought the hero had a big nose or a smaller one, but we agree on the important details.
I’m now caught in a very awkward situation with my twin children, almost 7. It’s a moment parents dread, more so than holidays with the in-laws or school being out for the summer.
The sex talk.
I’ve been noticing that the older elementary school kids have been trash-talking on the playground, especially after school, and they’re usually not the nice kids. And at least one child was suspended for inappropriate touching behavior towards another in a bathroom incident. And my kids met a new friend and they played and things got a little rowdy and the new kids yanked down my son’s pants and underwear while they were all playing in my son’s room.
So now we start The Talk.
I’ve been slowing preparing myself for this day, I just thought I also would be dealing with 9 year olds at the youngest, which makes a huge difference in vocabulary and contextual understanding.
Our openers were subjects addressing how we don’t yank off other people’s clothing (I threw down that rule in a personal talk with the new kid when he came over next. Not the why’s, just “we don’t do that here.” Everything seems to be fine now.), no one can touch you except you, and so on.
But now the kids are asking questions. Sara wants to know when she’ll get a baby in her tummy and bumps on her chest. Daniel’s theory regarding daddies planting seeds in mommies stomachs to make babies is damn near medically accurate if you take his words metaphorically, but he’s looking for the mechanical details now.
I don’t want to lie, but I don’t think they’re quite ready for the anatomical details of what happens between consenting adults and the possible consequences. I want them informed enough to put their “playground education” into perspective, but not so much that I have angry parents thrashing me because my kids corrected theirs on the topic of sex (Although a very twisted part of me thinks it would be hilarious to hear something akin to “it’s called a vagina, jerk-face!” as a return salvo from one child to another on a playground. And yet, if I heard that, I would probably usher my kids off and have yet ANOTHER conversation regarding sex and how we talk about it to others.).
It isn’t that I want to keep them innocent. It isn’t that I don’t want to imagine them one day having sex (I mean, I don’t want to imagine it, but I’m not going to live in denial of it like some people I know.), it’s that I’m caught trying to figure out how to communicate this stuff.
I’m a writer. I have plans to be published. I’m told I communicate well (Through the written word, at least.).
But there’s the problem. I write to adults. I communicate with adults. I can use euphemisms or medically correct terminology with adults. I can allude to certain actions or I can be excruciatingly graphic with adults.
I can’t do that with 6 year olds. They don’t have the vocabulary, the maturity or the life context to understand what I’m saying to them. Even a 9 year-old has more for me to work with.
Our “talks” thus far have been more behavior based, but there are those questions that keep popping up from their little mouths: “Mommy, when will I get bumps?” “Mommy, where does Daddy get the seeds from?”
I’ve been able to put them off with answers like “When your body’s ready to have babies,” and “Seeds are hard to explain, but you’ve got the right idea,” but I’m dancing around the topic. Not because I’m embarrassed by it, but because I don’t know how to communicate it so I don’t lose them in the process. And then there’s the question of how much is too much. Some would argue that when they start asking the questions, that’s when you start answering them.
Guh. Talk about an information dump in the first chapter.
My son spent two days on my laptop watching Youtube videos on How The Earth Was Made and related topics. Actual science shows that folks had uploaded with astrophysicists talking about meteors and clumping theories and all that. The kid was entranced.
And then spent the next week talking about it, very seriously telling me about how the moon was made during the Theia strike.
Trust me. You don’t just give that child any information he wants. It will come back to haunt you. Sometimes in the form of a teacher’s note – “It’s great that Daniel is so interested in space, but he’s having trouble staying on topic in class.”
Our talks are small now. “Only you are allowed to touch you” and that sort of thing. But they’ll be getting more detailed. Soon. And I am at a loss.
I don’t even know how to outline my own writing (I know the theories and I’ve tried most of them, it just doesn’t work very well for me). Now I’ve got to figure out how to communicate life realities to kids who can barely spell “cat.”
How do you outline that crap?