This is a cautionary tale about the importance of always providing your kids with the correct definitions. Especially when it comes to definitions of sex. Calling a spade a spade will spare you a lot of embarrassment in the long run. The same goes for your kids. I learned this the hard way – by experience.
First, for the narrative’s sake, it is important to mention that my husband and I have been brought up in completely opposite ways. This paves the way for value gaps and misunderstandings when bringing up our own offspring.
My parents, for one, were very liberal. Liberal to the extreme, I would say, as they used to be nudists. Actually, it’s more precise to say they “were” nudists, since my first nude beaching with my parents and their friends is still burning holes in my memory. I was three. The sight that helped me realize the main reason why Dad was different from Mum and myself was something I will hardly ever get over.
Truth be told, back then I wasn’t finding that many similarities between Mum and me either, as these were the pre-Brazilian wax times. But even though both my naked parents seemed to me like furry half aliens- half Yetis, my mum still looked a tad more acceptable to me. It is weird that out of all the naked people on the beach that day, only the image of my naked parents was imprinted on my memory forever.
Fast forward a few years, my parents involuntarily tried to convince me that sex was nothing to be ashamed of. This happened through first-hand experience, even though it was uncalled for by any of the parties involved. I got up one night to blow my nose and ended up stumbling across my folks, who were busy doing it.
To my 11-year-old self, this looked like something both Mom and Dad should definitely be embarrassed about. On the way back to my room, I was wondering which one of them should be more ashamed – both were strong contestants for The Grossest Parent Ever award. I was expecting that the next day I would be showered with gifts by my guilt-ridden parents. The light of the new day brought another shocker: neither of them was embarrassed to look at or talk to me. I had been told that sex was not embarrassing. On the contrary – sex was beautiful.
Beautiful??? These two thought that they looked beautiful while they were going at it? They certainly overestimated themselves.
My husband, on the other hand, had been brought up in a very conservative environment. I am pretty sure that the word “sex” has never been pronounced in his family.
This triggered one of the many collisions we had on the subject of our sons’ sex education.
My hubby found it of the utmost importance for us to stick to the indoctrination that babies are being brought by the storks. I, being my parents’ daughter, was adamant that the kids should know the naked truth.
A long string of arguments followed. My husband blamed me for being a shameless hippie/nudist. I fired back that he was a stubborn, narrow-minded redneck. Eventually, we settled on providing Viktor, our older son, with the following ill-panned explanation, which was considered an extreme compromise by both parties:
Sex is when a girl and a boy lie in bed together, kiss, and hug each other.
Viktor seemed utterly uninterested in the topic. He mumbled “ok” and shrugged his shoulders in an “another-meaningless-information-from-my-parents-meaningless-lives” way, and carried on with making videos for his YouTube channel.
However, the seed of knowledge was quietly sprouting in Viktor’s mind. Only a few days later, we went to visit my parents for a Sunday lunch. The conversation was slow. Viktor had the perfect ice breaker in mind:
“Grandma, Grandpa… Did you know that Mum has sex every night, both with Dad and with Nicholas?”
My parents remained silent. One would guess that their silence was born by the fact that Nicholas is our neighbor, and that, by “sheer coincidence”, Viktor looks like him.
Indeed, Viktor and Nicholas share similar looks, but this is not a coincidence. They share a 100% genetic pool. Nick is my younger son.
Upon hearing the “news”, my dad got so shocked that he forgot to take a drag on his cigarette. This was the first time I saw him take a breath without inhaling cigarette smoke. One skipped cigarette puff meant a skipped heartbeat for my chain-smoking dad.
My husband was eyeballing me indignantly across the table. I read and interpreted his eye signals correctly. They said: “What did I, a perfect citizen and a regular taxpayer, an heir of a decent conservative family that respects traditions, do to deserve you? You – an offspring of a nudist family that doesn’t even care about dining together. And now, on top of everything, I get this??? What kind of heavy karma am I paying in this lifetime?”
I was so appalled by my behavior as narrated by Viktor, that I could not utter a word in my defense yet.
Only little Nicholas, God bless him, remained like an island of calmness in the middle of a storm. Undisturbed, he kept eating his soup with one hand and honing his craft of scrolling TikTok videos with the other.
Viktor could tell that his story was not receiving the warm welcome he expected. Then he attempted to lighten the collective vibe by making sure that his Grandpa and Grandma understood that there was still one pure-hearted, brave young man, who did not cave in to his mother’s insinuations. Himself.
“She also wanted to have sex with me every night. But I am the only one out of the entire family, who is resisting her attempts. So with me.” Viktor’s face adopts a martyr glow, “With me, Mum has unconsented sex!”
I am not denying that deep inside of me the desire to get back at my parents still simmers. I have yet to get even with them about all the nude beaching, and the beautiful sex scenes I have been an involuntary witness to throughout my teenage years. Yet, the cruelty of what they had just heard didn’t match what they deserved.
Yes, my mum might have been strutting along the South Black Sea beaches undisturbed by the presence of clothes and Brazilian wax. But this was 40 years ago. Becoming Granny changed her very core. Now she adores updating me on her hot topics, such as the fact that Viktor prefers his soup without cream. She became so domestic, that my last Christmas gift from her was a cooking pot!!! Another proof that most humans consider their priorities to be everyone else’s priorities.
So I couldn’t let her listen to Viktor’s stories, which, as you can guess by this point, had nothing to do with reality.
My Dad adopted a coping strategy of his own. He was avoiding eye contact with me at all costs. I didn’t blame him. After all, he seemed to be my only blood-related male relative in the room, whom I had not tried to seduce yet.
Dad was abstaining from breathing so that he wouldn’t attract the attention of the promiscuous monster that was calling herself his daughter. I knew he wasn’t breathing because he had not puffed his cigarette yet. It was burning out, and its ashes were crumbling in a sad pile over the tablecloth. I had to get involved ASAP and prove my innocence.
“Viktor!!! What is this nonsense? When did I have sex with your brother? When did I force you to have sex with me???”
“Every single night, Mum,” Viktor won’t budge. He is beaming at me with his big hazel eyes, framed by long, thick eyelashes. “Every night when Nicholas and I go to bed, you come to give us a goodnight kiss and hug… And you also give Dad a kiss and a good night hug.”
“Yes, so?” It now comes to my mind that for the past month, Viktor has been running around the house when I try to kiss him goodnight. I have to pin him down to a bed or a sofa with my elbow to force a kiss from him. The kiss is obviously grossing him out, as he is exaggeratedly wiping his cheeks. In hindsight, I connect the dots. This started happening after he heard his parents’ joint statements on “what is sex”. Viktor is quick to confirm:
“Don’t you remember? You and Dad told me that ‘sex’ is ‘when a boy and a girl lie in bed together, kiss and hug’. You are a girl. We are boys. And as soon as we go to bed at night you turn up and start kissing and hugging us!”
Soon after that, Viktor learned in biology class at school what sex really is. At dinner time, he confessed that he already knew what it was. And that it was much grosser than he ever imagined.
Nicholas, four years younger than his brother, also wanted to be in the know.
His older brother told him patronizingly:
“Trust me, you are too young to know. I will tell you when the time comes. But first, I want you to have a happy childhood.”