Recently I remarked that, since training with my Coach in reality-based bad-assery, I’m inspired to bite Sweetie’s ear when she embraces me.I saw Jennifer Aniston biting someone’s ear in a movie, said Small. (A little digging revealed it was a magazine article about a movie. Nine year olds don’t watch ear-biting movies in this family.)
In a sexy way or a self defense way? I clarified.In a sexy way, said a sassy girl.
I don’t bite the Coach’s ear in a sexy way, I said. That would not be appropriate.I know that, Mama, said Small. Cue eyeroll.
So I asked Dre what book I should buy to tell Small the next chapter in the saga of the birds and the bees. She recommended the classic bird and bee tale, It's Perfectly Normal, and I checked it out on Amazon before heading down to the local bookseller.Jender always says, Dude, don’t read the comments.
I read the comments.I wasn’t shocked by the prudery, the homophobia, the conviction parents hold that their kids are too young for this information. I hear the same things in a self defense context all the time—even though my kid’s been learning about her body, reproduction, sex, love and safety skills since she was born. (There is no such thing as too young to have a body. )
But I was hurt to read the reviews that said, one way or another, “This book tells kids that sex is fun. Kids shouldn’t know that.”My nine year old is down with the idea that there exist experiences that are fun for grown ups but are not appropriate for kids. Her life is rife with examples. The grown-up pleasures that drive her to eye-crossing boredom, like lingering at the table after a dinner party, attending worship, or lounging in a camp chair at an outdoor concert. Or the grown up pleasures that are off –limits by parental decree, like riesling and Facebook and Jennifer Aniston movies.
It’s not that complicated to add sex to the list. To tell her the truth: super fun, not for kids.Because if there’s one thing I want my kid to know about sex, it’s that it’s fun. That’s why I’m saying it early and often: when you are ready for sex, it will be fun for you.
That knowledge is a super-power that turns on a girl’s spidey-senses. That knowledge makes it possible for her to know, should she ever need to know, “This isn’t fun for me, and that’s not OK.”I don’t want my girl to comply with sex to satisfy a partner or a peer group norm. I don’t even want her to consent, to check her internal OK-meter at whatever someone else initiates, and then respond thumbs-up or -down.
I want her to want.I want her sex life to be about desire. I want her to know pleasure and to seek it out.
I’ve been around the block a few times. Unfortunately, the first time I was being dragged by my hair.The second time I was crawling, pulling myself up on wobbly legs by leaning on the strong arms of partners who were not satisfied by the absence of my “no.” Partners who earned my “yes.”
It’s taken a lifetime to outrun shame and sorrow. Still sometimes I stumble when I wish I was sprinting, leaning into a turn of love or lust. Sometimes the skipped heartbeat of desire skids into the terrified percussion of survival.I’ve been around the block a few times. I know my girl’s first lap is likely to be more wander than dash. There will be some trembles in those little colt legs. Some fear, some confusion.
But I want a wild passion to run that race. I want my daughter’s sexual activity to be the physical expression of her desire for connection, and love, and yes—pleasure. I want it to be safe and ethical and principled, of course—but a large part of what will make it thus is for her to be at the center of every sexual experience. Not just a willing participant but an active and driving force. Just as I teach her to expect respect for her boundaries, I will teach her to expect physical joy and to accept nothing less.May it be so.