I grew up in a home where the word sex was never uttered, much less openly discussed.
When it came time for me to learn about where babies came from, my mother gave me a book with images of a cartoon man and woman cuddling together naked.
This was referred to as “love making.”
So I have my own kids.
I have raised my children in a very open and honest environment.
My kids know that you can’t get pregnant from kissing while wearing a bathing suit.
I don’t expect very much back-up from Wayne in this particular department because the poor guy grew up in a home where body parts were whispered, for example, “Jennifer fell on the ice and bruised her tailbone!” so I don’t expect him to be very comfortable with the word vagina.
As a matter of fact, when the word is brought up, for instance when I was pregnant with my fourth and the other three wanted to know where the baby was going to end up after his travels down the birth canal, I, of course, told them “the vagina.”
Wayne, of course, had to buffer the truth with, “Yup, he’ll come out wearing a backpack and night vision goggles. It’s dark in there.”
I, however, use every opportunity that presents itself to talk to my kids about sex, the importance of waiting until they are ready (which I inform them won’t occur until they’re in their mid-20s…yeah, not so honest on that front…whatever…) and I’m all about preaching the necessity of safe sex.
A couple of years ago during one of my nursing courses, I was flipping through the pages of the textbook when my son came and sat next to me.
Of course, he spots the page on which a giant penis is featured with genital warts, exudate coming out of the tip (that’s a pretty word for pus,) and the man with said-penis is frowning.
My son’s eyes pop out of his head.
“He doesn’t look very happy!” he says.
“He’s not,” I reply.
“Because he had unprotected sex with a skank,” I reply.
“Yes, that’s a woman who sleeps with many men, and doesn’t bother to use condoms.”
Son is silently flipping through other pages on which are other penises and vaginas with lesions, open sores, and deformities, all results of sexually transmitted diseases.
I’m not snapping the book shut because this clearly is a learning opportunity.
This is the kid who will most likely be experimenting earlier than the others…sigh…yes, it’s the little porn surfer I know right, how many more times can I shamelessly plug this post?
The moment is productive.
I preach the importance of wearing a condom at all times.
“Never believe a woman when she tells you she doesn’t want to use the condom because it doesn’t feel the same. It’s been proven that condoms do not affect penile sensitivity,” I say.
He says, “Well, what if I can tell that she doesn’t have any warts or bumps on her vagina?”
“You can’t tell,” I explain. “And if she has Herpes,” and yes, he was briefed on Herpes and its lifetime residual effects “you can’t tell if she’s not in the midst of having an outbreak.”
The boy is staring at the picture of the Herpetic vagina.
“So you can’t tell when it’s like that?” he asks.
“No. Her pubic hair will hide these anomalies, and you’ll think it’s all good, and you won’t want to wear the condom, so you’ll believe her when she tells you she’s fine. Then the next thing you know, your penis will fall off.”
I continue to say, “I’m just kidding. It won’t fall off.”
But now the visual is there, so my job is done.
Ok. So that was two years ago.
Many more conversations on childbirth, sexual orientation, and even sexual positions have occured since the whole scary-looking vaginas and penises lesson.
The other day, my 11 year old daughter is complaining about having to get one of her vaccinations.
I’m like, “Zoe, it’s a tiny little pinch. It’s not a big deal. I had four babies come out of my vagina, you can handle one needle.”
Jackson pipes up, “Mom! Why do you always have to use the word vagina?”
I say, “What’s the big deal? It’s a body part. If I had said, “I had four babies come out of my armpit!” would you have objected?”
He says, “No! Because armpit is not vagina.”
“I don’t get the big deal. It’s a vagina. I have one…”
“Yes, I get!” He’s plugging his ears, but you just know he’s waiting to hear what other gems are going to come flying out of my mouth.
Of course I don’t disappoint, I start singing, “Vagina vagina vagina vagina!” I never claimed to be terribly mature.
Today in class, we had a lecture from a sexual counsillor who deals with sexual needs of patients who have undergone cancer treatments.
At one point, the prof says something related to the vulva.
She says, “I really like the word vulva. It’s been my new favourite word of late. Actually I look for every opportunity to use it.”
Needless to say, “vulva” is now my new favourite word.
Never fear, I will also find plenty of opportunities to use it, and before the end of the week, my son will be wishing “vagina” would make a resurgence.