“Dad, what’s a virgin?” my 9-year-old son asked as he and my husband stood in the movie theater lobby. And as Michael was trying to dislodge the popcorn from his esophagus, Daniel lobbed the next grenade. “And what’s a stripper?”
Thanks Hollywood. Way to go. How kind of you to help ease us into a conversation we really wanted to have but just couldn’t find the right time and place. Really. I mean, who doesn’t want to have That Conversation at the movie theater? Who doesn’t want an innocent Sunday afternoon Percy Jackson movie ending with your child standing in front of a larger-than-life poster for We’re The Millers with Jennifer Aniston labeled “The Stripper” and a young male costar “The Virgin”?
Cue my husband Michael struggling to find the right words to take on the virgin question. Because, lets face it, it’s pretty hard to explain what a virgin is without first explaining that whole sex thing. I’m not even going to address the stripper situation (I’m not sure he did either).
And so, as they drove home through the pouring rain, Michael tried to explain the whole thing dispassionately and scientifically while catching glimpses of Daniel’s puzzled face in the rear view mirror. There weren’t a lot of details, but body parts were named and the fact was alluded to that together, they are used to make babies.
I, oblivious, was sitting at at the kitchen table going through the week’s mail when my little boy walked into the house and said, “Mom, dad told me,” in a jaded voice that spoke of the loss of childhood innocence.
“Told you what?” I asked, still blissfully naiive.
“We had the talk,” Michael said, his expression tortured. And then both husband and son turned to me, awaiting an appropriate motherly reaction.
“Oh, okay, great!” I shouted, like this was the best news I’d heard all day, trying to feign coolness and knowing my child would remember this moment forever. No pressure or anything.
“So, what’d you think?” was my brilliant follow-up.
“It’s disgusting. I never want to do that!” my first-born answered. “Do YOU do it?”
I started to sweat and mumbled something about how all adults in love do.
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore!” my boy said, running into another room.
“Well, that went well,” I said to my husband, as we patted ourselves on the back for another stellar parenting moment.
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