She walked confidently towards me, almost gliding above the cobblestone walkway. Chestnut hair that bounced off her shoulders with each step. Her pointed black shoes drummed the pavement in sync with my pulsating heart as she got closer. Her eyes, looking directly into mine—a blue so sharp they saw in me and past me. The warm sun from the early spring afternoon lit up her face as she finally arrived in front of me, a grand smile. “Hello.” The word softly sung from her lips in a Continental accent that was the last straw: Hook. Line. Sinker. Totally true story. Ten years ago this April 12.
Originally posted on The Good Men Project
Sunday, April 7, 2013
...so begins the narrator from a film 10-year-old Bart Simpson watches in school about, well, you-know-what. And that's not too far off from my initial introduction into the wild world of sex.
My own puberty was pretty self guided. My parents gave me a book and said, "Let us know if you have any questions" and quickly left the room. The book was very anatomical - Tab "A" into Slot "B". Fallopian Tubes. Vas Deferens. But not a lot of the emotional side. I guess that's where the parents were supposed to come in but we were not a very emotional sharing, kumbaya kinda clan.
I developed in the normal time I guess, around 12. Acne, new hair, a strange tingly feeling whenever I saw Chrissy Anderson and her new "bumps". Sixth grade was my first sex-ed class. They separated the girls from the boys. The gym teacher was the instructor, Mr. Lombardy. He was about 55 years old (although to me at the time he had to be 90!) and wore the same blue sweatsuit all the time. The one thing that really sticks in my mind happened the first day. Mr. Lombardy asked us to write down any question we wanted to ask about sex and he would answer it. 90% of the questions were, "What is a blow job?". I don't recall my question, but it wasn't that. I suppose I wasn't very worldly at that point. Mr. Lombardy's answer to that question was equally perplexing - "It's oral sex." Huh? You mean like "mouth sex"? Like kissing? My parents had oral sex right in front of me! It wasn't misinformation but it was a lot of incomplete information and again, not a lot of emotional instruction on this stage of life.
But I somehow got through puberty fairly unscathed save the occasional unintended erection in class (on oral report day of course!) and awkward fondling at the junior high spring formal.
I'm beginning to prepare myself now for that time in my son's life which is rapidly approaching. I hope when he's older and looks back on his initial steps into manhood that he feels I did my best to guide him and be there for him because I wish someone was there for me with more emotional support. I understood why I had zits and pubic hair and how babies are made and all that. But no one ever helped to guide me through the emotional jungle of puberty. No one was there to explain how to talk to girls without being an ass. Or that masterbation may be fun but it is not a career choice. Or that girls aren't sex objects despite what your hormones are telling your brain. We as boys didn't spend a lot of time on our emotional maturity, nor did our school or parents. And that was "normal". I'm hoping for a new "normal" for my kids:
- I want my kids to feel they can come to my wife and I with any question at all. No matter how gut-cringingly awkward it will be for me.
- I want my kids to be able to recognize and differentiate "sex" and "love" and that they are not mutually exclusive.
- I want my kids to understand what sex is aside from the physical act - and the consequences of leaping blindly into it.
- I want my son to be the new generation of men - respectful of women and his own emotional self.
- I want my daughter to recognize the balance between femininity and self-respect.
- I want my kids to be smarter than me when I was a teen (or now for that matter!)
- Finally, I want to be put into a coma until my baby girl is 30 because I have little faith that most boys will turn out as I hope my son will.