Even though we live in a rural school district that only does one hour of sex education in all of K-12, (good on you, Plumas County, CA), the great outdoors has always been a great source of sex education for my kids and well, everyone's kids. We stopped pretending kids were brought by the stork when foxes took up mating in the backyard. (Google the horrifying sound of foxes mating and you will never be the same.) I gave our kids a few books to read and let them read on their own and ask questions. Everyone seemed good with that and I felt like a pretty decent parent. 

My husband also jumped into the sex ed project by watching movies and TV shows with the kids with tweens trying to figure stuff out and ask questions. He likes to pretend the questions are about the media and not the thing itself. 

We both asked the kids if they were clear on stuff and they said, "fine." Not unlike our county school district, we thought we were done and congratulated ourselves.

But then my daughter out of the blue had a question. "You and Papa only did that disgusting thing twice, right? Once to get me and once to get my brother?"

"We... um... I... um... what?!" I replied.

I guess those books really don't talk about every day sexuality. They talk about how babies are made — which is needed information. But knowing that all the other stuff is natural, also needs to be talked about. It was NOT easy. I may overshare with the Internet and my girlfriends, but my daughter is a whole other matter. My advice for those trying this at home? Just be honest and succinct. NO DETAILS.

"No, actually. It's been way more than twice. It's kind of part of being in a relationship." Well, I thought that was a great answer, but suddenly my daughter was going all over the place with examples of people she knows in relationships and asking me whether they "do it." Neighbors. Grandparents. No one was left unscathed. My daughter scrunched her face up in squinty disgust. 

"Mammals are disgusting. I just don't get why you people would do this." That's a hard one to deal with. We're Americans, and we're used to shame and silence on the realness of sexuality.

"Most of the time people do this because it feels good, it's good exercise, and it's fun with someone you love." Honestly, that was the best I could come up with on short notice. She looked even more disgusted.

I sat with this all weekend. One of the reasons we find it so difficult to answer those questions is that we probably have never answered them for ourselves. Or perhaps our answers have changed over time. Well, what do we tell our kids that will both be honest and better than our own experience? We certainly won't tell them about decades of trial and error, will we? What's our goal in responding to the questions? We definitely need to make sure we've answered those questions for ourselves before we can give answers to our children. 

I can feel my daughter's disgust just thinking this. But hey, disgust isn't a bad place for a tween to be. If she can just hold on to that disgust a few years longer, I'll feel totally safe.

So, tween parents... be ready for THOSE questions. They're coming to a tween's brain near you.

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