Let's (Not) Talk About Sex, Baby...
Guys, it happened. Every parent’s nightmare came true in the front seat of my car. Only, (thankfully) it wasn’t my kid.
What exactly am I referring to? The dreaded sex talk. With Anthony’s 15 year-old daughter.
I don’t know what it is about me, the car, and sex talks. When I was roughly 17 years old, my baby sister similarly entrapped me and nearly caused us to wreck my black, little 1986 two-door Beamer in glorious fashion when she randomly dropped the “What’s a blow job?” question in my unsuspecting lap.
I was only marginally more prepared this time around. When I first met Anthony’s eldest, I had the obvious concerns: Will she like me? Will she respect me? Will she know I’m not trying to replace her mom? Will she want me around and want to be here? But almost immediately, we took to each other. Perhaps it’s the only 20-year age gap between us, or the fact that for more than a decade, I’ve worked with 12-15 year-old kids and have developed a penchant for actually getting through to and building relationships with them. Not quite sure what to chalk it up to, but either way, she gave me the stamp of approval long ago (phew!).
But with that respect and connection comes something far more sacred and terrifying - trust. Trust that she can spill her secrets to me and they’ll stay with me. Trust that she can ask questions she can’t always ask her parents. Trust that I’ll give her sound and well-tested advice on boys, friendships, and how to navigate the social hell that is high school.
So for the better part of eight months, each Saturday night, I anxiously await Chelsea’s arrival, all but holding my breath. Sometimes the tea spills out of her, practically bubbling at the surface as she comes crashing through the front door on Saturday night. Sometimes it creeps up slowly on Sunday morning, in whispered hushes when her dad’s out of the room while we’re making breakfast.
On this particular Sunday, I knew she had some major shit to dish when she asked if she could ride alone with me the entire one-hour drive to Mystic, Connecticut. Fuuuuuccckkkk. Immediately, my palms started to sweat and I quickly ran through hypothetical conversations and responses in my head.
See, as a freshman this year, she’s entered into the candy shop that is dating. Boys suddenly exist, aren’t quite as “musty, dusty, and crusty” as she previously thought. And she’s receiving attention. It’s like watching a kid open their Halloween treat bag: she’s picking out what she likes and trading or throwing back what she doesn’t. For the past few months specifically, she’s rotated through a few transient boyfriends, gushing over them one weekend only to run them over with her metaphorical bus the next.
“Sooooo, how have you been, Nicole?” she asked as we buckled into my CR-V.
“Am I going to need a drink for this?” I wasn’t buying her feigned interest in my life. I’ll give it to her - she was doing her best to be polite and respectful and not appear completely self-centered. But it was bullshit.
“Just rip the Band-Aid off, Chelsea.” I said squeamishly. I wanted nothing more than to open my sunroof, stand on my driver’s seat, and jump out.
The words tumbled from her like the rapids before the falls. There had been Dipshit 1. He was into Chelsea and she was interested enough to agree to hang out. But Dipshit 1 asked their mutual friend, Not Such a Dipshit 2, if he could procure some condoms before his
arranged meeting with Chelsea. Dipshit 2 not only told him to fuck off, but gave Chelsea a head’s up. So Chelsea dropped Dipshit 1 and decided to wear Not Such a Dipshit 2’s letterman jacket, if you will. Now, they’re “going steady,” as my mother would say.
Panic set in. While I was so very proud of her for dropping this fucktwat on his pompous ass, the situation meant she had ceremoniously entered the realm of sexual relations, whether she was currently engaging or not. I knew this day was coming and I had tried to warn Anthony, unsuccessfully. Loving his daughter’s immensely might be this man’s biggest fault, and the mere thought of his eldest even talking about sex was enough to send him into a catatonic state, rocking in the fetal position on the floor.
I was in a tough spot. The little Anthony and I had discussed included pre-rehearsed and textbook lines like “Abstinence is best,” and “You should really wait until you’re 35.” And if you know me, you know my mouth would literally self-seal before that shit ever spilled from it.
Chelsea had trusted me enough to tell me some big news, and I had a duty, as a woman, not to fail her.
I don’t remember having the sex talk with my mom. Maybe we did, but it was so embarrassing and traumatic that I’ve repressed the entire damn thing from any part of my consciousness. Or perhaps the extent of it was “I’m taking you to the OBGYN and putting you on the pill,” despite the fact that I’d already been to Planned Parenthood on my own at the ripe age of 16 and stocked up on the rainbow-colored basket of goodies they offered.
Carefully, I tiptoed into what felt like boiling hot water as I asked “So, are you and Dipshit 2 thinking about having sex?”
“No, we’ve both talked about it and we want to wait for at least a year before we do anything serious.”
Awww, that’s cute, boo I thought condescendingly. Having been a teenage girl once, I knew I couldn’t just let it lie there.
“OK, so listen. I’m glad you’re not ready to make that move yet, but I need you to make me a promise. IF you get even REMOTELY curious about what sex is, feels like, what to do, start looking up blueprints, PROMISE ME… You will come talk to me or your mom. ‘Cause the road from curiosity to your panties in a pile on the floor is usually a pretty short one. And I want to make sure you’re prepared before you get to that point.”
She was blushing, but she wasn’t clawing her way out of the car, nail marks all over my interior.
“Listen, I’m not naive, Chelsea. I know your dad wants to pretend you’re not ready and you’re not in this place yet, but I know that’s not true. So I’m not going to stick my head in the sand like a god damn ostrich. I’m not saying you go sample every item at the buffet, either, don’t get me wrong. But if you feel like you are getting serious with this Dipshit, then I want to make sure you know what goes where and why and when. Besides, would you rather get your intel from some dude who knows nothing about the female body? Or your girlfriends, who also have no freaking clue what they’re doing? Or would you prefer to get the lowdown from someone with actual experience who knows all the ins and outs of the bedroom?”
She nodded and agreed that she would come talk to me. And then it was over.
Now, I sit and wait and sweat and curse and hold my breath and pick my cuticles off while she continues on her merry dating way until the next car ride, when she traps me again to have the “real” talk.
So in the meantime, I have some questions. How do you plan on having “the talk” with your kid? When do you think you will? What age are they ready to hear all about it? I feel like this conversation was my warm-up for Avery, who’s nearly 11 and hitting puberty like a semi-truck driving into a brick wall. I’d like to think it’ll go as seamlessly with her, but who knows. Will she feel as comfortable with me? Or is it like an ingrained thing, that you are naturally mortified when it comes to anything sex-related and your parents?
Secondly, how do I continue to navigate this relationship with Chelsea? Trusted confidant, secret keeper, wise sage… where does that leave me with future, potentially more involved conversations? Do I have a responsibility to tell Anthony everything? Is that violating her trust? What if I don’t agree with his or her mother’s stances on big topics like this? Do I shut Chelsea down completely and revert her back to them?
When friends told me blending a family would be difficult, I don’t think I saw this one coming. I figured the four little hellions would fight, and often over attention, Legos, what to watch on Netflix. But figuring out how to advise a teen girl on the birds, bees, and everything in between? Nope, DID NOT make my radar.
Have kids, they said. It’ll be fun, they said. Ha. That was a crock of shit. More like “Have kids, they said. It’ll be a slow and torturous death, they said.” That would have been more accurate. So, weigh in, will ya? Did I royally fuck up this conversation? Do I put in the ‘Win’ Column? Do I go YouTube “Sex Talk with Teens” and take notes? Hit me with your suggestions. Or, better yet, leave a comment and let me know how “the talk” went with your kids. Or even better, with YOUR parents! Don’t leave me hanging here, gang. Misery loves company.