Thursday, October 23, 2008
Sugar and spice and puppy dog
Engrossed in my meal, I wasn't paying too much attention to what my dinner companions were talking about. Until I heard one of them say something like, "maybe they were thinking about s-e-x."
Withdrawing my concentration from the crispy squid I was laving lovingly with vinegar, I gazed at the bright faces around me: my two young daughters and two of their female cousins.
"What does that mean?"
The bright faces swung around to look at me. "What does what mean, Mama?"
"Sex. What do you think sex means?"
A flurry of giggles from some of the future femmes fatales. Then older daughter piped up: "Well, Mama, it's when the girl's egg cell is fertilized by a boy's sperm."
Mama decided to resist asking daughter about just how the egg gets its fertilizer, and pretended to return her focus to her squid and its vinegar bath. "And then what happens to the fertilized egg?"
Older daughter replied, "It becomes a baby!"
Younger daughter, not to be outdone, said with an air of authority: "It also lets other people know if you're a boy or a girl. You know, when you check the box in forms asking you what your sex is." (I'm pretty sure she didn't know what the hell her older sister was going on about sperm and eggs and zygotes, but she had to put in her two cents' worth.)
God, how my children make me laugh.
I told them they were both right, that yes, you tell people what your sex is when you check the appropriate box, and that people can have children from having sex. We all know, of course, that procreation isn't the only reason why people have sex. But I didn't think discussing the other grounds for doing the deed was quite appropriate for the dinner table. Besides, I'm chickenshit. I figure I have a few more years to build the courage to tell my young girls about the recreational aspects of sex. And about the differences between just "having sex" and "making love."
I don't remember exactly when it was I learned that a woman didn't get pregnant from being kissed, or that babies were found by parents from carabao dung. (I really did believe those myths when I was a teeny-weeny slip of a girl.) But I think I was a lot older than my girls' present ages when I did finally learn for sure that the birds and the bees were being involved incorrectly in the dynamics of human sexuality. Though I still get a kick out of watching animal sex on Animal Planet.
Now, as I creep towards my late thirties, I know somewhat better about things like where babies come from, having sex without having babies, and the orgasmilicious effects of drowning crispy squid in vinegar. But there is still so much I don't know, and I'm glad to be learning every day.