Being a Dad
By Michael Eagan
December 5, 1999
When Zachary asked me over Thanksgiving dinner, "Daddy, what's sex?" I belted him across the mouth so hard that he fell off his chair. His mother is taking him to the dentist next week to get a couple molars replaced. But after the bleeding stopped and I finished my bottle of Thanksgiving wine, then a six-pack of Thanksgiving beer, then another bottle of Thanksgiving wine, I decided it was time for not only Zachary, but all of my children to learn the facts of life.
Being a father, it's difficult to decide when it is the right time to teach your children about sex. Should a six-year-old girl know about sex? Should a twelve-year-old boy? Should a teenager? Should a leprechaun? The answer is different for every parent and every family. I personally feel it's important that children learn early on what sex is. For boys, it should be just before pubic hair begins to form around their genitals; for girls, it should be just before their breasts begin lactating.
Boys and girls should be told about sex individually, as it is important that they feel completely comfortable asking questions and sharing fears regarding sexual behavior. Some fathers I know have their wives tell their daughters about sex, but I don't allow my wife to talk to my kids unsupervised, especially about matters women shouldn't be speaking of in the first place. So when Thanksgiving dinner was over and everyone had stopped crying, I told Isaiah, Zachary and my wife to leave the room. They scampered out quickly and without protest.
Alone then with my daughter Kimmy and my six-pack, I knew I had to do more than simply preach the mechanics of sex to her. It is important that a girl know not only what it is, but how dangerous and sticky it is, too. The trick in teaching your daughter about sex is to do it in such a way that she'll understand what you mean, but she'll be so repulsed and disgusted that she'll never want to try it herself.
"Kimmy," I began, "You're becoming a big girl now, and it's time you learned about sex and how babies are made." With that, I picked up a dinner roll, and I told her that this was like what a woman has between her legs. She seemed confused, but I shot her a silencing glare before she could open her mouth to question. I then picked up a long steak knife and told her that this was like what a man has between his legs. This time Kimmy just nodded compliantly. I buttered the knife, and told her the butter was like a lubricant, such as KY Jelly, Vaseline or precum.
Then, making a contorted face and giving a high-pitched wail, I thrust the steak knife into the dinner role. Kimmy jumped in her seat. I then rotated and jiggled the knife inside the roll, and then pulled it out. I dipped it in cranberry sauce to simulate blood, and with another shriek and contorted expression, I jabbed the knife back in. I then repeated this process faster and faster, yelling louder and louder until the roll was completely destroyed, leaving nothing but a pile of crimson crumbs strewn about the table. By this time, Kimmy was shaking and crying. I pointed to the crumbs and told her that that's what's left of a girl after she has sex. I asked if she understood. Then I dismissed her before she could answer.
Our talk was a success, I think. Kimmy looked adequately traumatized as it concluded, and she hasn't spoken to me or her brothers since. Her teacher even called home to tell me that Kimmy had stopped talking to all males in her class, even the teacher's aide. With any luck, I'm hoping she'll be this way at least through junior high.
When Kimmy had gone, I brushed the crumbs off the table and onto the floor, where my wife could easily vacuum them up later. I grabbed a new dinner role, cleaned off the knife and then called for my sons Zachary and Isaiah.
When talking to boys about sex, the trick isn't to frighten them, as with girls, but to teach them how their position as males allows them to dominate the weaker sex. It's important that they understand how the woman's pain can be their pleasure. My dad showed me a homemade snuff film when I was a teenager, but I think that's a little too extreme for boys as young as mine.
When my sons came to the table, I told them that they were becoming big boys and that they had to learn what sex was and how babies are made. I showed them the vaginal dinner role and the phallic steak knife and explained what they represented, as I had done with Kimmy. But instead of a high-pitched shriek as I destroyed the dinner role, I gave loud, guttural moans of satisfaction. By the time the roll was destroyed, the boys were speechless. I asked them if they understood. Zachary nodded yes and Isaiah said "cool." I dismissed them both. Again, success.
Looking back on it now, I'm glad Zachary's question prompted me into talking to my children about the birds and the bees, or in my case, the knives and the dinner rolls. I don't want Zachary and Isaiah to be having sex until they're at least 14, and I don't want Kimmy having sex until she's a grandmother or dead. It's for their own good; better they learn about sex from me than on the streets or on Showtime.
In conclusion, there is no right time and no right way to handle teaching your children about sex. No matter what you do, there will be those who disagree with you and those who will call the social worker out to investigate why your children have withdrawn socially and stopped eating. My wife didn't totally agree with my decision to have Kimmy circumsized when she was 5, for example, as female circumcision is a very painful and potentially dangerous procedure for girls to undergo. But on the other hand, it results in almost total loss of sexual sensitivity, so I figured the pros outweighed the cons and went ahead and did it with a little rubbing alcohol and pliers and a bottle of scotch. That's what being a dad is all about. It's making decisions for your children's welfare based on your own intuition and experience. My kids may be frightened of me now, but they'll thank me for all this tough love when they're older and not in jail or snorting crack.
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