11.06.08 9:13 AM ET
Why I Let My Kids Learn About Sex From the Streets
The Project Runway star and mother of six on why having the “the talk” is so much more difficult (read: gross) for her than her kids.
At our Halloween party last week, my thirteen-year old son’s crowd was in his bedroom with the door locked. It was an equal mix of boys and girls.
“Go in there and check on them,” my husband said.
“What could they be doing?” I said, banking on the safety in numbers theory, ”there are ten of them in there.” I did go in, and found nothing more disturbing than a run of the mill game of Truth or Dare. Thank God because the last thing I would have wanted to see was a thirteen-year old orgy.
The incident did remind me of my parental duty to talk about sex with my kids, which I dread. I never offered to talk about sex with my daughter. She was always so mature and evolved; I figured she would learn it from the streets, as it should be. She realized the subject made me uncomfortable and did enjoy watching me squirm, so she would bring it up occasionally just to make me suffer. If my boys catch on to this, I’m doomed.
One site suggested, “When teaching your toddler where his nose and toes are, include ‘this is your penis’ in your talks.” I see no need to teach them where it is, they seem to find it just fine on their own.
Talking about it with my boys presents even more of a problem. We don’t have the same equipment. I don’t have a penis, I don’t even like to say the word penis, and I don’t understand the fascination they have with it or why they have the need to hold on to it like a handle. Constantly. Back in my day it was shocking when Madonna or Michael Jackson grabbed their groins in a music video. My boys call it dancing. Every time they hear music they clutch their crotch and hang on for dear life, like it’s Pavlovian. Music seems to remind them that it’s there, as if they had ever forgotten. Everywhere I look around here, there is a boy who needs to put his pants on.
Determined to overcome my fear and get the problem under control, or at least under cover, I decided to go where any modern mom would go for help, the Internet. The advice was disheartening. Start early, one site suggested, “When teaching your toddler where his nose and toes are, include ”this is your penis” in your talks.” I see no need to teach them where it is, they seem to find it just fine on their own. That’s the problem around here; they don’t seem to forget for a minute.
“Use the correct terms to avoid confusion. Say things like “girls have a vulva and a vagina, and boys have a penis and testicles.” So now “weenie” is confusing? I tried this one, and started using the official term, but it went awry. If my Kindergartener had continued using the word weenie, he wouldn’t have been sent to the Principle’s office."
Why did you say penis?” She wanted to know.
“I just had to,” was his reply. Her solution was that he was to come to her office every morning and say penis as many times as he needed to get it out of his system. Then he could return to class and start his day. After three days, he was cured of his Tourettian outbursts and stopped visiting. Perhaps I should consider a three-day masturbatathon to put an end to this once and for all.
And finally, “If you feel uncomfortable talking to your children about sex, recruit an uncle or a male friend to discuss the subject with your child.” OK. That’s just creepy. But not as creepy as this.
Laura Bennett was trained as an architect but has since established her career as a fashion designer by becoming a finalist on Season 3 of the Bravo hit television series Project Runway. Bennett lives amid complete chaos in New York City with her husband and six children, Cleo, 20, Peik, 13, Truman, 10, Pierson, 6, Larson, 5, and Finn, 2.