Putting It on the Table

by admin

Putting It on the Table

We have very interesting dinner table conversations—though perhaps not the kind the experts envision when they urge parents to sit down at the table with their offspring.

Last night we got to talking about the column in the New York Times by Dr. Perri Klass. It was about discussing sex with boys.

Uh-huh. I’ve addressed this issue.

When Wally was in the 3rd grade he mentioned, over dinner, the fact that one of the girls in his class was growing underarm hair. 

I took advantage of the teachable moment to discuss puberty and hormones and menstruation and sex. I finished off my chat by looking the boys in the eyes and saying, “So basically, every time you have sex you can get a girl pregnant.”

I know that’s not biologically factual, but I have been known to deconstruct The Cat in the Hat to suit my needs, so I had no compunction about creating a fact to reinforce my teachable message which was, always use birth control. The Snapper, who was then in 1st grade, reflected on this little lesson and then said to me seriously, “Mom, I’m just not gonna have sex till I’m thirty.”

I reminded him of this last week when he went off to visit Wally at college.

Our next constructive sex discussion occurred when Wally was in 7th grade. It was the night before he was to attend his first Bar Mitzvah. A mother of an 8th grader had informed me that some girls were giving out blow jobs as presents. I admired the cost-effective approach to gifting but it occurred to me that in all of our open discussions about sex we’d never discussed oral sex. So I went to George before dinner and asked if he’d like to handle this part of the educational experience.

He fled the room.

So I brought Wally into the kitchen as I was making pasta and said, we never discussed oral sex, but let me tell you, contrary to Bill Clinton’s statements, it is sex. I said, she can’t get pregnant but you could both still get diseases. I asked if he had any questions, but he said no and fled after George.

In her column Dr. Klass waxes philosophically about the differences in discussing sex with adolescent boys vs. adolescent girls. With boys she recommends discussing respect, date violence, and manners.  

She is much more circumspect than I am.

When each of the boys hit high school, I instructed them, “First, no means no, it never means yes. Second, never attempt to have sex with a girl who is drunk. Third, condoms are only 85 percent effective—when used properly. And finally, there is no such thing as spontaneous sex, so always be prepared.” 

At dinner one night, one of them once challenged me on the “myth” of spontaneous sex. I said if sex was truly spontaneous, then there would be no need for Victoria’s Secret. I turned to George for support. I said, “Seriously, how many women end up in bed with a guy while wearing Hanes undies? If a woman thinks she’s going to have sex, she goes to Victoria’s and gets ready for it, right?” He turned pale and left the table.

But I know it’s true. I’ve been to Victoria’s Secret myself.

Dr. Klass’ column is a good read, but I don’t think it goes far enough. If she wants to do a follow-up, I’d be happy to invite her to my place. 

We could discuss it over dinner.