Since the end of the world is tomorrow I figure I might as well get off my ass and do one last dilemma.
I have a tween. Now when I was 10.5 I wasn’t called a tween because the gods and goddesses that market shit to kids hadn’t made up that demographic yet. The truth is I cannot remember if I was as clued up about my impending pubescence, but then again I didn’t watch Glee. The sexual tension between Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura was about as racy as it got.
The family tradition of overly subtle sex education came down on both sides of my family – my mother having been pulled in to her mother’s dressing room one morning in 1947 to be told Dear, this is Kotex, you put it between your legs. No idea about when or why or anything else at all. Thank god for older sisters.
My father fared maybe a little better, with his mother sitting on his bed one night and presenting him with a book depicting the gestational periods of the major mammals. And his father simply saying Be gentle. They seemed to have worked it out OK in the end so probably didn’t feel the need to do much more. Me, somewhere between the sales rep from Playtex showing up in grade five, a sex ed class in grade 7 that involved massive over sharing on the part of an Estonian gym teacher with an uncircumcised son named Thomas and a few copies of my older cousin’s esquire magazine in the attic in my grandmother’s beach house, I was able to figure out the basics by about 8th grade.
But I am a mother of a different generation. We are savvy, in touch and open about all the important things in life. We arm our sacred creations with information, sensitivity and give them the basis for an open and honest dialogue with us as parents that will fuel their growth into centered, self respecting and balanced adults. We may at times be forced in to uncomfortable situations by virtue of the age, for example, walking through the security sensors a the corner duane reade puts a 5 year old face to face with a nivea lip balm ad depicting tonsil hockey between a couple with luscious smooth lips. Wright’s pharmacy in cos cob CT didn’t have stuff like that in 1977.
Recently, I took my big girl on a special mother daughter hotel night in NYC. I chose the Standard, as 1) I got a good corporate rate from a client and 2) it had a cute pop up ice rink all winter and we wanted to option to skate. Now, I’ve been to dinner at the grill and spend most of my workdays about a block away from the hotel. But I’ve wasn't in ny the summer it opened and totally missed that it is a concept hotel based around sex.
So when we got there, the funky videos in the elevator caught my eye, but didn’t really prepare me for what was coming.
Upon entering the room, a beautiful wood paneled version of a high-end ship cabin, my big girl immediately opened the mini bar and started to admire the vintage candy. And the box of condoms with cute little sex position cartoons on the side.
Why are there three?
Why are there three?
I was across the room admiring the view down to the statue of liberty and had to make my way over to see what three she was talking about.
Down on the street.
Do they break?
Do they break? Is that why there are three?
Now of course, my big girl knows what a condom is, but only in the vaguest sense. Since she also knows what sex is and some of the mechanics, courtesy of her older cousin. But the graphic elements and what a condom actually does, not really.
Um. Well, they could break but that’s not really why. Do you understand what it does?
Umm. Not really.
I have stuck myself right deep into it now.
So I go back to the simple way that we explained it when she was 5 and asked where babies come from.
Well honey, you know that when the mommy and the daddy have that special hug to make a baby? Well, those things keep the part of the daddy that makes the baby from going in to the mommy to make the baby. (never one to miss a teachable moment, I tack on to the end: And they also make sure that people stay healthy when they do the special hug. )
The look I get makes it clear that I am nowhere near to answering the question.
Yeah, but why do you need three?
Umm. Well, you see, the special hug is actually kind of nice and fun and if you aren’t making the baby, you might want to have that special hug more than one time in a weekend if you are staying at a nice hotel.
Or if the hotel would like you to have the special hug up against the window with the lights on for all to see.
Silence. Whew. Question answered or at least maybe I grossed her out enough that she will let it go.
A few blocks later…
Can I get white jeans?
Thank god, subject switched and we can move on beyond the total awkwardness of that.
Until we get back to the room after a lovely dinner to see that out next-door neighbors have the do not disturb sign on the door and my big girl turns to me with a wry smile and says
They must be using the third condom.
Next time, I am booking the Hilton.