Intersections – About Sex

Posted by September 10, 2014

Nicki Salcedo

By Nicki Salcedo

I need to talk to my kids about sex one day soon, before they read about it in a book or see it in a music video. I’ve been avoiding the subject, and I need to study up on it.

When I was a kid my mother handed me a book about my body and puberty. It was a book about a girl’s body. It wasn’t a book about a boy’s body or my body and another person’s body. The puberty book didn’t explain sex.

We learned a little about sex at school. They sent us to the old Fernbank Science Center in fourth and sixth grade for Sex Education. I grew up in the scared straight sex generation. I learned that my body does these weird things. Then I learned that the body of the opposite sex does even weirder things. Two people having sex equals getting a disease. If you don’t get a disease, you will definitely get pregnant. They showed you the miracle video of a baby being born that will scar you for life.

I actually learned about normal sex from fiction. I read romance novels. Sure the men had swords for man parts and ladies had flower petals for lady parts. That all made sense to me. Those books weren’t about sex. They were about love and the ramifications of sex. That’s what you learn in fiction.

It used to be: No sex until you are married. But I think this is better: No sex until you have a M.D. or you’ve voted in two presidential elections. Or better yet: No sex until you are fluent in Middle English.

Have you read “The Canterbury Tales?” Chaucer knew a lot about sex.

Things are different now. If I really have to talk to my kids about sex, it will be about how boys might end up in jail and permanently listed as a sex offenders for having sex, even if they are caught having sex with their girlfriend.

I will talk about the emotions of sex. No matter how equal we think we are, one person in a relationship will inevitably attribute more meaning to sex than the other person. Someone will be hurt. Maybe this situation is best illustrated in fiction. A textbook can’t show this. What kind of diagram would I draw to show a broken heart?

I buy my nieces all kinds of books for young adults. Some of them have been banned. Some from authors who like to push the envelope.  Kids are smart, but not wise. We’ve got to be both as adults. We need to be honest about sex.  We need to remember what we were like at that age.

I knew I could ask my mom anything. And I did ask her everything. Poor her. Lucky me. I hope my nieces and nephews and my kids understand that I’d rather talk to them about Star Trek, but I will talk to them about sex when I need to. I’m not one to be controversial or overt. I know the difference between what’s said to shock and what’s said to start a conversation. I know what’s funny because it’s embarrassing and what’s funny because it is the truth.

Hopefully, they will ask me any and everything. Yes, I am panicking. Yes, I am a prude. Yes, the worst word I’m prepared to type or say is “nipple.” But I am not afraid of the truth. My poor kids. Lucky me. They will find out what I know when they ask me.

Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning. 


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  • The Pride of Salinas

    Go ahead, ask me anything. But beware, because I just may tell you. That is the heads-up I give my children. (I recently explained how the male determines the gender of the baby to a few giggles – apparently the “ovum” is a funny word.) Growing up, I was lucky to have what I thought was a fairly straightforward and open mother when it came to discussing matters of sex. Parent-child discussions have the tendency to demystify and minimize any supposed lure of the taboo. If my parents are having sex, how cool can it really be? Thanks for the article, Nicki. I’m no prude but “nipple” is funny if you say fast a few dozen times.

    • PumpkinSpice

      “If my parents are having sex, how cool can it really be?” Gold. My mom was also very open and no movies or books were off limits. My Catholic schools were also rather straightforward. All of the openess made me think, “Sex is just weird!” I hope I can give that same gift to my children until they learn Middle English.

      • Nicki Salcedo

        “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote, the droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote…” Thanks for reading my attempt at Middle English, PumpkinSpice. I wish I could replicate my parents openness. Nothing was off limits for us either, and yet we know what limits our parents expected. Sex is weird and wonderful and funny. See you on the road to Canterbury.

        • PumpkinSpice

          My younger sister is named for the Wife of Bath. I remember reading the general prologue in high school and the bit about her being a “lusty” woman and thinking, “Why would my mom name my little sister that???” Mind. Blown.

          • Nicki Salcedo

            Now I know your sister’s name. I wanted to name my kid Linc after the character on Route 66, so I’m not one to judge.

    • Nicki Salcedo

      Anything is funny if you say it fast a dozen times. As for the word in question, I will have to take your word for it. I thought urethra was regal sounding when I was a kid. I still do. The key in your comment above is “parent-child discussions.” And my parents never had sex.

  • Aaron

    Nicki, you’re awesome. What time should Amanda and I drop our children at your home?

    • Nicki Salcedo

      Aaron, Star Trek Sex Ed begins next week. Spock 101 will be common misconceptions (sex pun) of the Vulcan Pon Farr ritual and other Vulcan sexual habits. It will be logical. Human sex? I know nothing about that. Ask the stork.

  • ShellyStow

    Enjoyed the article, Nicki. Keep telling the truth, especially the risk that boys–and occasionally girls–run as teens of being put on a s*x offender registry and having their lives destroyed. Depending on the state they live in, this can happen not only with s*x where both are teens and s*x when the elder partner is a young adult and the younger one an older teen but also with s*xting between teens and other related sending or making of electronic images. I too liked Chaucer, but Huxley is more appropriate here, for it is a new world–not so brave but definitely new.

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