When it's time for The Talk
AS THE mother of a (now) very pleasant young man, I empathise with parents who have to choose the right time to discuss the facts of life with offspring.
My experience as a pre-teen was less than enlightening. Mum was thoroughly embarrassed by the whole thing, and thrust at me a booklet (written by a member of the clergy) to read on my own. She said she would answer any questions I had but was so clearly uncomfortable with the whole thing that I chose to do my own research and fill the gaps - so to speak - with lurid whisperings from friends at school. Hardly ideal.
Fast forward and I faced the prospect of informing my own child when he reached the appropriate age. As it turned out, that was way sooner than I anticipated thanks to, once again, a schoolmate. Except, as my son was in a composite class, the difference in ages was three years and the older boy had a "colourful" imagination. When my son casually dropped a non-fact into a conversation one night, my jaw hit the floor and I realised it was time for The Talk.
I had promised myself that I wouldn't be coy after my own experience, but I confess I quailed as my kid was only eight at the time. I contacted his father and we conferred, then drew straws; he got the short one and had to discuss the birds and the bees. My ex had had a very different experience years before with his more liberal parents, but as he pointed out, he was 13 at the time.
When they arrived after the next weekend visit, I opened the door to a pair of ashen-faced males. I'm still not sure who was more shell-shocked.
I've debated this with many friends over the years. One particular conservative couple said we should have made something up and told our child that his mate was having a lend of him. That was never an option as I've always believed that if you stick to the facts, you can't get into much trouble. Plus they had a terrible time inventing stories when rules changed and tampon ads appeared on television, and I can only imagine their two boys felt a little contempt for their parents when they discovered the real deal.
A few years later when my son and I were skiing in the US, we ended up in a motel room that was next to that of a young couple who, I suspect, were on their honeymoon. The walls were paper thin and we heard everything (and I do mean everything) that went on. I was glad I didn't have to explain, but it really made eating breakfast in the dining room a teensy bit embarrassing.