Car drive conversations are interesting. It’s getting more interesting by the week.
It’s Nah-nah and I in the car today, driving to soccer training. Kiss FM is on in the background. As our conversation slowed down, an ad came on – a segment “am I the best sex you ever had?”. I glanced over to my daughter and she looked at me, so damn amused and her mouth formed that egg “O” shaped chuckling “Ohh”. It was a girl who asked the question. Just less than 10 seconds, the ad ended.
Then and there, I turned over to my daughter smiling and I asked “Do you know what sex means?” I knew she went to interelate session a few months ago and I’ve heard many stories about it so I thought this is an opportunity to explore what my daughter knows. My daughter looked at me smiling and innocently replied “yes, I learnt it in interrelate. It’s when a penis is put into a vagina.” Never heard of sex being explained in such short simple terms! I couldn’t helped it but giggle silently, with my mouth closed pretending to be serious but my body language betrayed my seriousness.
Let me put out there right now that I AM THE LAST PERSON to give sex education.
I can’t remember whether it was year 11 or 12 when I had my first sex education. I went to a girl’s school. At the lesson, I remember vaguely that each girl was given a banana and what seems to me at the time ‘a balloon’. Yup I thought it was a balloon! We then sat around in a circle and was given a piece of paper, each with a word on it which we have to say out loud what it is and explain it. I opened mine and had no idea what it was. I sheepishly showed my girlfriend and asked what it means. She looked at it, looked at me then took the piece of paper from my hand and said don’t worry I’ll do it. I knew she was protecting me and didn’t want me to be embarrassed. I think in that class, we were also asked to put that balloon over the banana which I refused to participate. I’m a girl who grew up in Vietnam, arrived in Australia at the end of year 5 – never been exposed to kissing as it’s banned on tv and media, I didn’t even understand the term “crush” on a boy. Thinking back now, I think the word I had on the piece of tear paper was ‘masturbation.’ B1 moo moo – thanks, you saved me.
First year uni, I worked as a sales assistant for a leather clothing stores at QVB selling leather jackets, leather pants, gloves. One afternoon a male came in, got friendly talking to myself and my colleague, bought himself a leather jacket which he paid for in cash from his wallet. After he left the shop, I noticed a foil square packet on the floor so I picked it up and was about to run after him to return to it as it must be from him. She looked at it and laughed and said “it’s a condom. Don’t worry about it.” Confused I went silent. She opened it up and showed me, disbelief that I had no idea. I am feeling disbelief myself sitting here recalling. Naive? Innocent? Or simply just a dumbass? Ohh no another word, frigid.
Second year uni I was in a serious relationship. As girls do, I spent hours through the night over the phone chatting to my girlfriend B1 about anything and everything. One night we spoke about kisses and not sure how it goes but I remember till today, the words and the challenging amused tone
“you know, when you kiss him, don’t you feel anything?”
“huh? Feel what?”
What on earth! What bulge? Shocked.
“When a guy get excited, his penis goes hard ……. and …………. and …… !”
ARE YOU FOR REAL!!!!!!???? it goes hard? how? why? I grunted. I’m pretty sure my brain had an explosion moment then.
From that day forward, I read more stories on the girly magazine such as “Dolly” and “Cosmopolitan.”
That was my sex education.
2 years ago, a group of mums and dads at work was talking about how to approach the difficult conversation with their kids. Around the same time, the school mums was on the same topic. Most avoided the talk and said it’s super awkward and hope that their spouse would take over that role. It’s like hearing a ping pong match. I was more intrigued with what should and should not be shared and what’s the appropriate age. I do not want my kids to grow up knowing too much nor do I want them to turn out to be a naive clown like myself. No one had the answer. We all dread it. I had no doubt in my mind then that when the time comes, it will be me who will have the talk. It will have to be. If I leave it to Quoc, my kids won’t know anything till they are like me or he will be hiding under the carpet from awkwardness.
But if sex is normal why is it such a hard topic to talk about? why is body parts so difficult to talk about? Yes, I do agree with “what you don’t know, you don’t know” but I now believe more in “use the knowledge as your power.” WHY IS IT SO HARD? I’m a believer that the harder you make it, the more complicated it will be. It is what it is.
Also, during our parents sharing conversation talk 2 years ago, I learnt that a boy’s penis can go hard at 8/9 years old or even a little younger. I had no idea. While we were chilling down relaxing around the dining table, I turned around to my son and asked curiously “Taiyah – can mummy ask you a question? Does you penis sometimes go hard?”
“MUMMY! OMG! NO!”
“What? why are you shocked? Mummy only asking a normal question. So does it?”
“You’re weird mummy. No it doesn’t”
Dad in ready to crawl under the table motion. I see a smirk.
“So it doesn’t at all? Not even in the morning? Not even when you need to pee when you wake up?” I look at him intently, lovingly. jokingly .. joking but serious but joking.
“Taiyah, mummy asked only because I’d like to know so I know how to teach you. You’re at the age that your body parts change and you need to know that it’s part of growing and not to be embarrassed and hide it from mummy or daddy. If I don’t know, I can’t teach you and I can’t help you. Don’t need to be shy about it. Come and talk to me when you want ok? Love you.” And I let it be.
After a few minutes he shyly said “ Mummy, yes i have it in the morning and when i get excited.”
I smiled proudly, encouraging “Excited when?”
“The time when I scored goal in soccer.”
WHEEEEEE I stood up ran around like a nut and did a happy dance. My heart. How cute and innocent. I ran over and kissed him on the forehead and said “ Thank you for telling me. It’s very normal and this is what expected at your age. Feel comfortable to let mummy knows when I ask you question so I can guide and tell you things ok?” He was looking at me laughing and said ok. I was visibly over the moon. I knew how much he trusted me then and how I have made it easier for him to share. Weird time as a mum I tell you.
Back to my daughter today, I have been hearing things and I know now is the right time to open the can of worms.
After hearing her statement of what sex is ..
“Did the teacher tell you what happens when that happens?”
“They just told us what it means and told us how girls get period and yeah there’s video but I can’t see anything. ”
“I see. So when a girl start to have her period and she has sex, she’s able to have a baby. Did the teacher explain that?”
“But the teacher said girls can get her period as early as year 7 or 8.”
“Yes that’s correct. Body changes a lot. Both boys and girls. Its part of growing up and everyone go through it. Thats just how our body is. Do you think you would like to be responsible for a baby like how I am to you?”
“ohh no mummy”
“thats good baby. I’d prefer if you and anh hai come and talk to me like how we are talking now and ask me any questions. I know you guys talk about it with friends but I’d rather you hear it from me. Do you think your friends who’s your age know any better than you do? so please do not learn from them. There will come a time you are curious and that’s normal so come talk and laugh with mummy.”
We had a small talk about love, maturity and decision making.
“Ok mummy.” Giggling.
My son who’s more shy just looked away when I told him about my conversation with Nah-nah, avoiding eye contact and laughed.
I really don’t know how to give them scientific facts about body parts etc so I’ll just do it in a direct blunt way. A lot of the times when I explain things like wet dreams to them when they asked, they laughed and thought I’m being a stand up comedian. I thought I’m being one too actually. After my brief explanation of it, my girl shared that she was about to not let him sleep on the top bunk anymore as she doesn’t her and I to be showered in his pee in the middle of the night. She thought that after interrelate session. I wouldn’t know had we not talk about this. If my daughter think that, surely all other kids are thinking the same. We were hysterical. After my talk, she just said to her brother tapping him on the shoulder, half teasing and half relieved “ohh that’s ok then, just put your undies in the laundry for mum to wash ok?”
A conversation that needed to be had. I’ve started the conversation. I”m sure it’s the first of many to come. My intention is to normalise the difficult conversation. I want to make them feel safe and ok as they grow and their body changes. I’m actually against them being exposed too much but I don’t want to be avoiding the fact that society is evolving with time. I can only be there and explain as we go. I might be the last person to talk about sex education, but I’ll be the first person to have that learning conversation with my kids.
Mar 2, 2021