Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sex Education: prep work

I have a vivid memory of when I was a little girl being called quietly into my parents' bedroom by my giggling older brother who wanted to show me something. I knew he was up to no good, but I couldn't help but follow him. I was curious.

He took me into my parents closet, closed the door, turned on the light and pulled out a book that was hidden deep under a pile of STUFF. How he found that book, I'll never know.

Tee, hee, hee, he said to me. Snort. Snicker. You've gotta see this.

It was a book with a white cover, and the black letters on the front read, "Where Did I Come From?"

I assure you, at that age, whatever age it was, I didn't care. And, I told my brother as much.

Oh, but I have to look insiiiiiiiide, he insisted.

It started boring enough--black and white cartoon images of a man and a woman going on a date. I watched "Love Boat." I knew the drill. But then he turned to THE PICTURE, the one that left him in a fit of laughter--that man was lying ON TOP of that woman in bed.

All I could think of was, yuck. He's going to crush her. Why would he ever wanna do that?

"C'mon!" my brother said. "They're DOING IT!"

"It" didn't look like a whole lot of fun to me at that age, and because I was talking about it while sitting on the floor of my parents' closet in secret, I was thinking that I probably shouldn't be devoting too much of my time to the topic. So, we agreed to disagree on the subject, put the book away and walked out of the closet without even looking back--well, at least I didn't look back. I can't vouch for my brother. :)

Fast forward a lifetime, and here I am, a prudish mother of a ten-year-old special needs child who enjoys grabbing breasts. He just can't help himself. Maybe I'm imagining it, but I sometimes think I see the same glint in his eyes that I saw in my brother's many years ago. lol.

From the minute that I became the mother of two sons, two facts were established: 1) at least we wouldn't have to pay an astronomical price to fulfill a daughter's princess bride dreams on her wedding day, and 2) I had been relieved of the sex talk duty because, naturally, that should be a "boy thing."

Well, life as parents has been NOTHING like we expected. I'm hoping to have still escaped the financial burden of a wedding, but, it looks as though I'm gearing up to have a series of "talks" with our older son. He has autism. Things need to be presented differently, and, as the primary caretaker in this family, that would fall under my responsibilities.

I would do almost anything to get out of this.

This is going to be an experience for me. I've got lots of friends who are liberal and free with their bodies and talk about sex. While I love them very much, I'm just not like that. I am choking on this every step of the way.

So, to start slowly, I sent inquiries to several people who I knew would be able to give me advice, and then I did some brief searching this morning on the Internet.

I came across a video of a dog named "Fluffy" that someone thought would be a good spokesperson for ASD children to teach them about their bodies and touching. However, as literal as ASD kids can be, I knew that my kids would not be able to relate to a lesson from a dog.

I found some great social stories already made with picture symbols commonly used in special ed classrooms, so the format was familiar. However, at $20 a piece, I sure wish I could get a look inside to see what sort of message the creators thought was appropriate for the book.

So, I decided to research in person, risking taking my little Chattie Charlie, my guy who sees everything and tells the world about it, to Barnes and Noble. I can do this, right? The kids' section is right behind the special needs section. He can stare at Pokemon stuff until his eyes pop out while I come up with some tangible tools to help me with this project!

Who knew that there would be so many books about growing up? Is your child anxious? Is your child depressed? Having trouble making friends? Can't learn to read? Good gravy, what's going on in the world today? All I want is a stupid sexuality book!

For the record, I even hate that word--sexuality. There. I typed it twice. Ick.

I thumbed through the titles on the shelves one at a time, discounting each one. Nope. Nope. Not appropriate. Nope. Not this one. And then, there is was: a reprint of the childhood book that I looked at with my brother all those years ago in my parents' closet!!! lol! I almost purchased it for nostalgic purposes, but watch one of MY kids get a hold of it. I'm just perpetuating the circle!

I found a book about teaching sex to Downs Syndrome children. It had useful information, but I refused to get it. Downs is not Autism. Surely there is something out there more closely suited for our older son.

With a sigh, I let go of the idea of finding special resources for the day, and I looked at some books written for kids on the topic rather than teaching tools on the topic. I found titles like, "The Boy's Body Book" and "Changing You!" and flipped through the pages.

Let's just say that, for today, I've hit my fill of talk on armpit hair, vulvas, sperm, when to wear a jock strap, why deodorant works, fallopian tubes and menstrual cramps.

'Cause, you know what? I'VE BEEN THROUGH PUBERTY! It wasn't fun then! I sure don't want to be here, digesting all of it and then having to break it down into a series of simplified picture symbols so that I can talk to my breast-loving son of mine!

For sure, nobody mentioned A WORD of this kind of thing at my baby shower. You know, the time of bliss when you picture cute little onesies in pastel colors? Now I'm picturing chest hair coming out of the onesie.

I think it is time for a break. Sex education is going to be a process in this household, it seems, for more than just our older son.

1 comment:

  1. LOL!!!!! Chest hair coming out of a onesie! That's a mental image that I'm not going to be able to shake all day.

    I was one of those moms who had a pretty easy time talking to my kids about pretty much anything, so in our house, I handled all of this stuff with our daughters and our son. There was never 'the talk,' because the information sort of came along naturally from the time that they were little. I used real names for body parts (my mother-in-law did not approve of that) and as questions arose, I answered them. At times when I thought questions were slow to arrive, I looked for opportunities to start little conversations.

    At one point on the recommendation of a friend, we bought an animated movie (I think it was called Where Did I Come From?, but I'm not positive) for all of them to watch. My hubby and I watched it first so that we'd (um I'd) know what to expect and to make sure that it was something we wanted to show them. It was a crack-up. A cartoon mom and dad are in the bathtub and then they stand up and the narrator talks about their different body parts. The couple ends up in bed (covered up) and that bed gets rockin'! Holy crap.

    We decided to show it to them and of course, they giggled like crazy. After we watched and talked a little (not much, to be honest) I told them that while there was nothing to be ashamed of in what they'd just seen, they probably shouldn't share the information with their friends (I think our oldest was in kindergarten and the twins in pre-school) because different moms and dads picked different ages to talk to their kids about this stuff.

    The very next morning, when my friend's three kids came to our house to wait for the school bus, my younger daughter pulled her friend (my friend's son, her same age) out onto our deck, saying, "You are NOT going to believe this!" She proceeded to fill him in on all the details, and I saw his horrified face. He looked at her and said, truly grossed out, "Oh! My parents had to do that three times!"