What are those? she wants to know.
So our talk didn’t necessarily go as I envisioned. Like a Band-Aid for your vagina was pretty much the gist of it. If there’s an equation for dads trying to explain tampon use to their girls, it’s this: For every word you use, the questions compound by twenty. But you know, that’s ok. We had all afternoon.
The funny thing is, I could have sworn we had this conversation before. I could have sworn we were standing in the same places in the same bathroom, and she was asking the same questions and I was trying to hurriedly recall 4th-grade human sexuality class and all the things learned over the years. She’s 5, I kept thinking: How much of this will she remember, and how much will simply slip out, only to be asked again next year, or in two years, five?
After I wrote about the episode, a friend pointed me toward Mir Kamin’s excellent post about this similar subject with her teenage daughter. Go check it out, but in short, this is where I’d like to wind up in 8 years or so. This, for me, is the end game, or the start of the end game. I don’t know how it happens or what as parents we can do to make it happen — or if it even will — but I want that household that is so comfortable with body issues that my kid feels confident and comfortable enough to come to me or her mother with any questions.
As Mir writes in a different story, “Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more informed choices you can make. Everyone seems to agree about that until it comes to human sexuality, and then some people seem to believe that mystery is the best option. I don’t get it.”
I grew up in a house where body issues were rarely, if ever, discussed. My mom hurriedly filled me in on the birds and the bees the night before human sexuality classes were due to begin in 4th grade. Going from zero to holy shit, you put it where? in five seconds is awkward. I’d like to avoid that.
But how? In our home, from the way things are going so far, questions are met with open responses — nothing should be embarrassing or awkward. These are our bodies. Everyone has one. It’s no big deal.
That’s easy now. At age 5. But how do you keep that dialogue going?