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Sex and the Suburbs: The S-E-X Talk (You Knew It Was Coming)

Sex and the Suburbs: The S-E-X Talk (You Knew It Was Coming) Logos by Melanie Amorim
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When it comes to talking to your wee little ones about the birds and the bees (and specifically, why Mommy and Daddy are doing it), the truth often WILL set you free—and it just might get you laid more often.

  Age of Reason, Age of Bullshit

We have to wonder how much our children actually understand, and whether we underestimate their capability for recognizing bullshit from a mile away. I mean, after all, we are in the age of sex’s omnipresence, so it stands to reason that some of it may just have stuck in their little spongy brains. Not only have our little lie detectors gained some real-life experience of their own, they do live with us and have heard enough of all the lame excuses, stories and versions of the truth we tell them to know that adults are completely and unequivocally full of shit most of the time. Think about it. How many times did you give your parents that look that said “Who do you think you are fooling? I may be a kid, but I’m not an idiot. Now watch me glue my face to the dog.”

Allison, mom of three who still enjoys a rather active sex life with her husband, told me a story that made me realize just how much our children understand that we don’t give them credit for. She told me:

“My husband and I were having a particularly great run of the kind of sex you used to have when you first got together (passionate, fierce). So this one night we get all of the kids to bed and are making out like teenagers, tearing our clothes off at the top of the stairs, barely able to make it downstairs to our room. Next morning rolls around and Tom heads off to work. I'm cleaning up and the kids all come in to the kitchen. Timmy (the oldest, 6 years old) asks ‘Mom, what was that sound last night?’ Immediately I knew what he was talking about but I thought I'd pussyfoot around it. ‘What sound, bud?’ ‘You know, Mom, that sound that you were making last night when... you and daddy were having THE SEX.’”

  You’ll Understand When You’re Older…

“The sex.” How much do we talk about it to our little ones and at what age is it appropriate to quit making up cute little stories or tiptoeing around the truth? Or do we just try our damndest to keep our kids completely devoid of exposure to our sexual practices? I, personally, think that the sooner you tell your kids that there is more to marriage than fighting, laundry, and trips to Home Depot, the better. I am certainly not saying to sit down with a 6-year-old and explain all the ins and outs of male and female anatomy and the art of sex, but what’s wrong with explaining that moms and dads do things alone together to show that they love each other? Simply telling them that it is something that they may not understand now, but will later, seems reasonable and prevents us from having to think on our feet and think up creative lies when kids get a glimpse.

So, I got to thinking, what did our parents do? And I interviewed a few moms and dads that had some stories to share about how they found out their parents did the nasty, and also how they talked to them about it. Our parents’ generation may not be the most superior examples of appropriate behavior in this situation, but it may shed some light on it. Most of us caught or heard our parents fucking, and none of us turned out so bad, right? Well, relatively speaking, of course...

I have pretty vivid memories of hearing strange noises coming from my mother and father’s room as a child, and even walked in on them in flagrante more than once. Sure, it freaked me out, made me feel a little queasy and even scared me a bit. But my parents didn’t apologize for the fact that they had a great sex life, and I appreciate that. Now. As I got older, it gave me a great example of a healthy marriage and what it involved, and put my mind at ease that they still loved each other over the years. However, at 10 years old I remember a conversation I had with my mother that went a little something like this:

Me: Mom, can you and Dad please not do it when I am in the house? Like, only do it when I am sleeping over someone else’s house?

Mom: But, you barely ever sleep anywhere else. We would never be able to do it.

Me: Exactly.

  Hey Guys—Can You Keep It Down In There?

So, OK, I didn’t appreciate their lascivious sex life back then. But knowing that they were intimate, even if I didn’t know what exactly it entailed, never did any permanent damage; and, after decades of therapy, I’m totally over it. Really.

Apparently, I am not alone, because in my discussions with moms and dads recently, quite a few had some interesting recollections of when they realized that mom and dad weren’t just playing a rather loud game of Parchesi after the kids went to bed at night.

Christine told me about the one time she walked in on her parents.

“I thought that they were fighting. So I cried and they broke it up and I will never, ever be able to erase the memory of their naked bits.”

Yes, it can be rather traumatic for a young child to see their parents naked, especially in those formative years in which they are still figuring out that whole “boys have a penis and girls have a vagina” reality. And seeing full-size their parents doing something they have only seen done with the asexual plastic likes of Ken and Barbie in a reenactment of a scene they caught the end of on Desperate Housewives is going to raise some confusion. But it doesn’t have to be disastrous; it just all depends on how you handle the aftermath.

If you make it known from when the children are a young age that nudity and sex is a natural part of life, maybe it doesn’t have to be the big bad moment parents dread and avoid at all costs. Christine’s parents never really talked about with her, which left her feeling uncomfortable and ashamed for seeing something she shouldn’t have. But what about having an easygoing conversation about it to put your kids’ rattled little brains at ease?

Marty, now 35 and the poster boy for being comfortable with his parents’ sex life, had parents that talked about it.

“I love the fact that my parents get it on. Is it weird when my Dad smacks my Mom's tush as if to signal it's time for some nookie? Nah. They love each other and that love has kept this family together for over 30 years. Hell, they will probably get it on in the nursing home.”

His parents never used subversive techniques to keep their nighttime activities under wraps from the kids in the house, and Marty grew up with a healthy outlook on sex and marriage. He now has a wonderful sex life with his wife, a beautiful baby girl and a healthy relationship with his parents. Seems like it worked out pretty well.

  Honesty is the Best Policy

I love Marty’s mindset. It seems to me that when the kids start wondering what the sounds coming from the bedroom are and why the door may be locked in the middle of the night, that it’s time to give them the truth. Not the “pull out the anatomical charts and the Joy Of Sex Book” truth, but a version that points them in the right direction of understanding sex and marriage and doesn’t leave them terrified.

When my 6-year-old stepson walked in on my husband and I in the throes of some doggy-style passion a few years ago, I had a decision to make. I could:
a. throw him out of the room, say nothing and hope to God he never brought it up again
b. give him a cute little story of how mommy and daddy were playing a game that involved seeing who could put their clothes on first
c. give him an explanation close enough to the truth without being too much for his little, naïve brain to handle.

I went with Option C. I told him that when moms and dads love each other, they like to spend time alone and they do things like hugging and kissing without their clothes on, and that it was something that he would learn about later, when he was old enough to really understand it. Basically, he looked at me like I had just told him that I hated video games and that I would rather do multiplication facts than watch television, followed by “I’m never going to do that. I’ll be upstairs. See ya.”

It wasn’t exactly the head spinning around, vomiting pea soup reaction I had expected, so I felt pretty good about it.

  The Sperm Meets the Egg, the Sperm Meets the Egg, Hi-Ho, the Derry-O, the Sperm Meets the Egg

Then I got pregnant with my daughter. This opened up a whole new host of questions and was a perfect opportunity to segueway into sex having something to do with babies and how they come to fruition. So when he asked me how I came to be in my condition, I told him that while moms and dads are hugging and kissing alone, the dad has a way of putting the seed inside the mom’s belly that hooks up with eggs she has inside and that makes a baby that grows inside of her (think a “Discovery Channel meets Noggin” explanation). We looked at books that showed the process; hell, we watched The Miracle of Life on PBS so he could see what it looked like when the sperm met the egg and all the different stages of development in utero. My 6-year-old little boy even watched a live vaginal birth because he wanted to know exactly what was going to happen when I went into labor. You know what he said when the baby finally came out? “Wow, that baby really needs a bath!”

He was fascinated, completely understood and was thoroughly happy to know what was going on and how it was all happening. Taking the mystery out of sex and childbirth for him had made him feel more secure and involved in the process, and in turn made me not have to worry about keeping secrets or relying on stories about storks and cabbage patches to explain the arrival of his little sister. And if he ever walked in on us doing the wild thing ever again, I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to say. One less thing to worry about is priceless for a mother, since we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Can I get an “Amen?”

So moms and dads, throw the rule book out the window (as if there was one in the first place), leave the UFC stories to the Spike Channel and open up to your kids. They will probably surprise you.

Although you may find Ken and Barbie now have a better sex life than you do.

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