"Robyn, are you ready for more penis and vagina talk?"
Why hello Wednesday morning. Let's do this.
On Saturday, Justin and I attended TedX Salem, which included one session of some very frank ideas regarding sex and consent. You can imagine the reaction of my 14-year old date. Squirm city. Good thing the lights were dim because my child was flushed. Later that night, after a bit of twitching, he said, "Robyn, I know you're not my mom, but you are my Robyn and I have some questions about this sex stuff." And so it began.
I actually feel honored to have these discussions with him. Sex education is happening right now in his health class and he's been coming home with some even juicier questions. Justin doesn't always hear or understand concepts, so he is often left somewhat confused with his partial truths. For example, "So when the orgasm happens in the gall bladder the girl's egg gets pregnant. She has a lot of eggs, so you could end up with a lot of babies." Or, "What happens when the penis goes in the other hole?"<Side bar: anal sex is all the rage on the high school front because one can't get pregnant. Good one to nip in the bud.> And with a straight face, I nod my head and say, "Hmmmmm...let's take a few steps back and talk about how the body works--it's science, man. And then let's talk about how people work--there's a lot to think about."
I talk frankly about subjects. I've found it's the best way to disarm any prickliness and it allows us to get to the core of a subject. In this case, the questions are coming from a place of confusion and fear. Understandably, relationships can be difficult to navigate. But for Justin, his former home life was filled with volatility--the last time he tried to sleep in his bed, he found it littered with used condoms from some people crashing for an undefined period. I can't erase these past experiences that have tempered how he thinks about sex and women, but I can help him navigate with better information; we can help him usher in new templates of what healthy relationships look like.
A friend recently shared a video of Father Gregory Boyle (HomeBoy Industries) in which he shared, "Sometimes you have to reach in and dismantle messages that get in the way...that cause shame and disgrace...so that the soul can feel its worth." When we feel and know our value, we value others. This is how we create equality. This is how we move past the hashtag du jour and create real change in our lives. This is my job as a parent (or as a Robyn, as Justin likes to say).