We Just Had “THE TALK” With Our Son


“Hey Henry? The other day I overheard one of your friends say, “Suck it.”  Do you know what that means?”


“Yeah, I know what that means.” (Said in a tone that suggests I just asked him if he knows how to play Minecraft.)

(Deep cleansing breaths to myself).

“Oh Ok, so do you want to tell me what it means then?”

“Uh, no Mom, I don’t want to tell you. I know what it means and I’m not telling you.”

*another pregnant pause–no pun intended*

“Henry, have you heard of the word “sex”?”

“YES! “(again said in a tone of voice that suggests I’m a freaking idiot)

“Ok, so do you know what sex is?”

“Ugh, yes Mom, I know what it is, and I’m not going to tell you.”

“Ok, that’s cool” (oh my god, I just said that’s cool to my son…… when really it’s not cool ohmygod I’m freaking out right now, stay cool… stay cool).

“Ok, so I’ll just tell you what sex is just in case you have another idea in your head about what this word means.  Sex is when a man puts his penis inside a woman’s vagina.  It’s also how babies are made.”

(DISCLAIMER:  I realize there are all different types of sex. And I also realize that sex can be between two women and also two men. I mean really, I questioned my sexuality in college.  I realize this and support all forms of sex and sexuality. Well, except sex with animals…cuz..yeah.  That being said, this is how I described sex to my son, thru my current lifestyle lens. There will be future sex talks and I’m sure I will tell him about all the different ways people have sex.)

Based on his wide-eyed expression, I’m not entirely sure he knew what the act of sex could involve.  

Yeah, so it’s a special event.  And so, when I heard your friend mention the phrase, “suck it”  your father and I figured  we should just make sure you know what that phrase means. In case you don’t know what “suck it” is referring to, it’s usually a derogatory phrase suggesting that a person should put a penis in his or her mouth.

Weighty silence and wide-eyed expressions are interrupted by the sound of our coonhound audibly farting so loudly that no one can keep a straight face.  Nervous laughter ensues.  The dog farts even more.  

So anyway, Henry, we just wanted to make sure you knew what sex is.  And if you ever have any questions you can talk with us about anything.  Yeah, so sex is special.  And it’s fun.  Ok, go wash your hands for dinner.

OHMYGOD I just told my son that sex is fun.  What the f…?! Speaking of the “f” word we also schooled him on this word as well.

(This is my husband now talking): You know how Mommy sometimes gets frustrated while driving and yells out the “f” word when someone cuts her off?  Well, that word is a derogatory word for sex. But sometimes it’s also used as a swear word.  So Mommy isn’t really saying, “What the sex?” when she’s frustrated, she’s just swearing A LOT. But I guess that’s kind of funny to think about…people walking around yelling “SEX” when they’re frustrated instead of yelling the “f” word.

I stare in disbelief as this my husband’s ONE contribution to the entire sex conversation and Henry is in hysterics as this is the most times he’s heard the words sex and the “f” word in less than 1 minute.  

That, my friends, was the inaugural sex talk we had with our 8-year-old.  EIGHT YEAR OLD!! Also, internet grumpy pants that might be reading this–we did reiterate to him several times that 8-year-olds should not be having sex and it’s something that should happen when a person is much older. I think I was more disturbed by hearing another 8-year-old use the phrase “suck it.”  It was awkward. I played it cool.  After all, I too had to live thru the sex talks once.

It was 1987, and I was 10 years old. It was a very tame Saturday night in the Rivas household, just Mom, Dad, our 10 cats, 2 dogs, and myself watching the Golden Girls.  I know, really. What 10-year-old watched this show?  Also, we didn’t have 10 cats, we had 6, if I am remembering correctly. Regardless, I keenly remember one of the hilarious lines that came out of Sophia’s mouth when she was talking about trying to call her daughter. She said, “I tried to (call), but every time I put in a dime and dialed, a condom popped out.” My parents erupted in laughter and like any innocent 10-year-old I didn’t get the joke. “What’s a condom?” I asked my parents who had finished laughing. Silence. “Uh, your mom will tell you later,” my dad gruffed and likely blushed and likely had a moment with my mom as they stared across the living room at each other.  Based on my parents’ reaction to my question, I knew that a condom had something to do with sex and as a 10-year-old, I didn’t want to hear any more.  Although I don’t remember the details afterwards, I’m sure my mother told me about it later that night up in my room behind closed doors…… a space reserved for most of our sex/life talks.  The one exception to this “rule” was  the time my dad and I were in the kitchen, and he talked to me about getting my period while making himself a cup of tea.  So.  Awkward.

Fast forward to the here and now.  There is so much that has happened in those 29 years since watching the Golden Girls at age 10.  Much more than I care to recount, mostly because my parents and my in-laws read this blog.  Suffice it to say, I’ve been pretty open and confident in my sexuality and sexual experiences– except with the above mentioned parental units.  That being said, my husband and I have not had an official sex talk with our kids. Henry refers to his body parts with the correct words, with an occasional reference to his “nuts.” And both kids always ask about my tampons…seeing as though tampon companies seem to think it’s cool to wrap those little buggers in bright  colors that my kids always mistake for some sort of toy or treat. Periods…a treat they are not. Regardless, they both know about the basics of periods. My husband and I  are openly affectionate with each other and so far neither child has walked in on us “doing the grown folk.”  I consider my 8-year-old to be fairly worldly and mature.  After all, while riding in the car, we tune the radio either to the top 40 hits or NPR.  He’s heard the word “sexy ” in songs. However, I was pretty convinced that he had never heard of the word “sex.” I was obviously living under a rock.

In my mind, I just didn’t know what to tell him about sex. I mean, the book that I read as a kid just stated that man inserts his penis in a woman’s vagina and that is how a baby is made.  I mean, really…… we all know that doesn’t happen.  I want him to know all about the magical and complicated world of sex and sexuality. What about all the physical details? I mean really, the famous phrase, “If this vans a rockin’, don’t come a knockin’,” didn’t originate because two people were just lying there quietly with their body parts neatly entwined. What about the orgasms?  Oh god, how do we explain what an orgasm is? And condoms? And sex between two men, or sex between two women? And group sex? Ahem.  And then we realized he is only eight.  And we reigned it back in.

I know some of you might be flabbergasted by our initial sex talk with our child. But that’s ok. We feel confident in our abilities to communicate with our children. And we feel confident that they listen, even when they pretend not to. We have this conversation under our belts now.  It’s a good foundation that we have created, ok maybe a shaky foundation. But we took an honest stab at pouring the foundation.  Any foundation is better than no foundation, right? Why am I talking so much about the word “foundation?” So next time something comes up that has to do with sex, or “sucking it” we can easily refer back to that time we talked about sex in the kitchen while mom cooked pierogies and our dog farted loudly.  We can remember that these big things in life, are serious, and big, but not something to be swept under the carpet.  I want my child to grow up respectful of his body, and of other people’s bodies, and everyone’s sexual preferences and choices, and if we can’t talk openly about these “things” then how can I expect him to feel comfortable in future life-happenings?

Have you had the sex talk with your child? How did it go?!

birds and the bees talk

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Heather Polifka-Rivas
Heather is originally from upstate New York but her family returned to Vermont 4 years ago. They have lived in NYC and Chicago the past 10+ years and are happy to be back in Vermont. Heather's previous jobs as a starving actor in NYC, package design guru at Estee Lauder, and advisor to fortune 500 companies at Chicago’s top business school have not prepared her for her current job today: stay at home mom to Henry (7) and Ruby (3). A self proclaimed foodie, Heather spends her "many" hours of free time preparing elaborate meals, eating out, tending to her garden, canning it's bounty and willing her one tapped maple tree to weep more sap. She is also a mother runner.


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