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Do You Have to Take Off Your Britches… January 9, 2006

Posted by TimTheFoolMan in Parenting/Children.

…to have sex?

This is how one of many sex-related discussions began in our house. More accurately, this question came from my (at that time) six year-old son on our way to dinner. (Fortunately, the older brother wasn’t present, or the younger son would have never heard the end of this.)

In the front seat, we erupted in laughter, causing our son to ask, “What’s funny about my question?”

“Nothing is funny about the question,” I said. “When did you start using the word ‘britches‘?”

The “Sex Talk”

From there, we discussed the practical realities of “having sex,” including my recommendation that, while not strictly necessary, it would certainly be more comfortable to remove your pants completely. In the back of my mind though, I was wondering where in the world this had come from.

Upon reflection, his question made sense. After all, we were knee-deep in the Clinton impeachment hearings, and as a result, my son may very well have heard any number of variations on “having sex” that had nothing to do with traditional intercourse. Even so, I decided it was best to presume nothing, and proceeded to describe the fairly traditional missionary variation of intercourse. This seemed to satisfy his curiosity, but I wanted to make sure.

When I finished, I asked “Does that make sense to you? Do I need to go over anything again?”

“No Dad,” he offered. “You don’t have to explain it again. I’m really good at math.”

Math? MATH??? We’d never gotten to the reproductive notion of 1 + 1 = 3. Where did math come into this? To this day, the only math-related aspect of this I can think of is: Geometry.

Why Was He Comfortable with This Discussion?

Whenever I tell this story, the reaction I get goes like this: “You must have been horribly embarrassed. A six year-old? What in the world did you tell him?”

As strange as it might sound, I simply answered his question. My friends are even more shocked when I tell them that my explanation used terms like “vagina,” “penis,” and “intercourse.”

The jaws drop, and I hear “YOU DIDN’T!”

Yes, I did. Why wouldn’t I? If my son asks me how an internal combustion engine works, I’m not going to call the crankshaft “the little johnson,” or the valves and cams “the family jewels.” Why would I use non-technical names for parts of the body?

What? You haven’t taught your child the actual names of the body parts?

Start Off With Proper Names

I don’t listen to my sisters-in-law very often, but this is one case where their training was too much for me to ignore. Both of them are registered nurses. Early on, they told me, “Tim, teach the boys the right names for all the body parts. You wouldn’t give a funny name to the elbow or the collar-bone, so don’t teach them goofy names for the private areas of their bodies. This could be important if they have a medical condition, or worse, if they ever had to testify about someone touching them inappropriately.”

The last part got my attention. I was mortified at the thought of one of my sons having to sit in front of a judge in a courtroom, nervously trying to explain how someone had done something to hurt him. Even worse was my picturing them using words that might be ambiguous, or worse, not credible.

You Can’t Start Too Early

As a result, I have clear memories of very frank discussions about body parts with both of my sons. When my oldest was a toddler, I can remember standing in the shower as my wife handed him to me so he could “shower like a big guy.” I would lather him up, rinse him off, and hand back out a much cleaner little boy.

One day, as he was drying off, he looked at me drying off too. “You have a penis Daddy. I have one. Momma, what do you have?” Watching your wife caught completely off guard: Priceless.

Unfortunately, this kind of frank discussion can backfire on you a bit. When this same child was in pre-school (at a nearby Seventh-Day Adventist church), my son came out one day very frustrated. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Beverly. She says she doesn’t have a vagina. I told her she did, but she didn’t believe me. I told her that she has one, her mom has one… all girls have one. She said she didn’t have a vagina. She is sooooooooooooooooo stupid!”

It was with great caution that I explained to my son that not all children were able to remember the names of all the body parts like he was, and since “vagina” can be a difficult word to pronounce correctly. “Maybe she’s learned a different word for her ‘vagina.'”

“That’s dumb” he responded.

At the time, I wasn’t so sure. Unsure of whether I’d be able to show my face inside the pre-school again, Beverly’s parents seemed pretty smart.


1. zalfa - June 6, 2011

thank you, what a nice article

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