Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Unexpected conversations

We watched the sun set behind the horses. A girl brought out some carrots, and we helped feed them a treat. Light filtered through their manes. My son and the girl giggled. The horses munched. It was perfect.

"Are they male or female?" my son asked.

"The horses? I'm not going to check. You check," I told him.

"How do you check?"

"How do you think?"

He got down on the ground, and gave us a report.

"This one has a penis. This one too. Man, some are bigger than others! This one doesn't. Does that mean it has a vagina? What do those look like?"

How did we get from a pastoral, rosy-hued Perfect Moment to horse penises? I wondered in dismay.

He re-emerged, fed a few more carrot pieces to each horse, and we were on our way.

Except the conversation continued.

"So do horse penises and vaginas ..." he trailed off.

"It works the same as with other mammals."

"Oh. Like people?"

"Yes. Horses use a different position, but basically it's like people."

"OK. Hey, I've been wondering. What does sex feel like?"

"It, well ... If you're an adult, and the other person is an adult, and you both are committed to each other and consent ... then, for adults, it can feel very good."

[Long conversation detailing consent for a 9-year-old audience.]

"So ... what if the people are kids?" he asked.

"That's not for kids."

"Ew! You're right. I think it's gross."

"Well, that's fine. You're kind of supposed to. It's not something that you even have to think about for a long time."



"What if one person is a kid, and the other person is an adult?"

I didn't think it was possible to yearn so badly for a return to the innocent topic of horse penises.

Isn't there a giant bubble I can keep him in?


Kim said... Best Blogger Tips

Wow, Kim! What a tough conversation to have. I think you handled it beautifully, though. And it's so great that your son can have that type of discussion with you in the first place, without seeming to feel uncomfortable. It's a testament to both your parenting and his smarts! :)

Carole DeAngeli said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh my, I'm glad my child is long beyond those conversations. You did a good job!

Christina Wilsdon said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh, this made me chuckle, thinking back on similar chats with my daughter when she was little. There are some mornings I wish I could just sit down to coffee with all the blog writers I follow and swap stories IRL! The "big questions" really do come out of the blue, don't they.

Thérèse said... Best Blogger Tips

You sure have to trust your instincts when bubbles pop!
Such a beautiful picture.

Daniel Greene said... Best Blogger Tips

"What if one person is a kid, and the other person is an adult?" Seriously? That is surprising. But maybe it's because you emphasized the _opposite_ when you said, "Well, if you're an _adult_ and the other person is an _adult_…" I think sometimes when we try so hard to get someone not to think of something it just makes them think of it even more.

"What does sex feel like?" That's a great question. When I was four, and I asked my mom to tell me how babies were really made (and she told me in textbook detail), my one question was, "What if he has to pee while he's in there?"

"It's not something that you even have to think about for a long time." Really? He's going to hit puberty before you know it, and then he'll be thinking about it all the time. It will go from "Ew!" to "Oo!" Get ready! ;-)

Christina Wilsdon said... Best Blogger Tips

Except that "a long time" to a 9 or 10 year old kid can be as little as a year...that's AGES for a kid...My own child was HUGELY relieved to hear that this or that biological development was a long, long way off, because it meant she did not have to think about it today or this week. Next year? Whatever. I think giving the child that "out" is a great comfort to them. Lets them feel young and protected and not facing adult-style responsibility for a while. It's both funny and sad to hear a child who's only in sixth grade mourning nostalgically for the carefree days of his or her "youth" in fifth grade.