Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Birds, Boys, Bees and Books {Two in Particular}

“Mom, I think {a boy} likes me.”

I’ve never heard her say this so I knew she didn’t mean the normal “like”.  This was the blushing “like”.

“Well, darling, what do you mean?  How do you know?”

“He just looks at me..... like when he knows I will see him looking at me.......and I don’t like it.  It makes me feel uncomfortable.”

I don’t like that it's time for these types of dialogues.  Didn’t we just get rid of all the princess underwear?  Wasn’t it just last week I coaxed her from behind the couch when Swiper left the TV screen?  I don’t want to talk about boys..... and why they like to look at her. Now, I’m not worried about this little boy.  It was all innocent, but it was the beginning of a significant conversation last night.

Last spring while we were visiting my hometown, she began asking some questions that commanded responses that I had yet to share.  I was tucking her in and like she was asking me what we were going to do tomorrow, she asked, “Mom, can a husband and wife DECIDE WHEN they are going to have a baby?”  She’d been doing some thinking.  And I was ready for bed.  Her thought process, up until that question, had been a baby just comes once a man and woman become married.  She had gathered from conversations that there could be some planning involved.  I had known for a few months I needed to fill her in on the whole shabang.  It was time.

I feel we had had some pretty great, potentially awkward conversations in the last several years, but, still, I was managing to fly just under the radar of arming her with some potent information.  A couple of months before that question at tuck in, we started reading the American Girl book, The Care and Keeping of You on Sunday afternoons.  To be honest, I didn’t want to like the book but too many women I respect had read it and loved it.  And for total transparency, I couldn’t bring myself to read it ahead because I was afraid I would chicken out.  Or even worse, be reading it to her and know what was coming next and get a ridiculous case of the giggles... like a certain friend did.  {Yeah, you know who you are.  Makes me laugh even now picturing you trying to gain your composure.}  The book covers the care of your girl from head to toe so it starts off easy breezy with hair care, ears, face etc.  It’s the torso area when you wonder why this is your job and not someone else’s.   The pictures are perfect, but just awkward and of things your daughter possibly hasn’t thought of yet.  You glance ahead on the page and see a WORD and you think, in a split second, “I’m really going to read that word.  THAT one.  Just read it aloud.  Just like that.”  Breathe.  And then the sentence brings you to that word and you just read it.  Again.  Breathe.  And again. Julia was great.  She didn’t giggle~ neither did I~ but she was learning something new and it was as natural as could be.  We spread it over a couple of Sundays and ever since then, at times, we have that knowing look between us.  Is it really time for that?  What happened to the “I know it’s snack time” look or “I know I hear Daddy coming in” look?!  I miss THOSE looks, not the “I know why you are taking ibuprofen” look.

Okay, for the whole tamale, I chose another book.  Reading has been such a integral part of our days together, I felt reading a book would be the most natural thing I could do.  From a trusted friend’s recommendation, we read The Wonderful Way Babies Are Made.  I was in a bit of a time crunch {like I didn’t know this was coming for 10 years} so I got mine from the library and it must have been from the first printing.  The illustrations were a bit, hmmm, how should I say...... cheesy?  It spoke, “peace, love and God ordained sex...dude” or something like that.  However, you can’t beat the text.  There is bold print for younger kids {or chicken parents} and fine print for your kids who are ready.  And for parents who are ready to read it.   You read all sorts of words that you haven’t spoken out loud in years.  They just don't roll off the tongue easily or cool-like.  They sputter, sort of.  I can’t tell you how great the text is.  It brought out things I wouldn’t have thought to include.  Before we made this little date to read the book, she knew I would be answering the question from the tuck in and a few others that had surfaced since.  Well, she came with pen and paper, for note-taking.  Something told me she wouldn’t ever forget what I was about to share, but I loved that she was in learning mode again.  I stopped several times and asked her if she had any questions.  I also asked her if she wanted to continue~ just checking her pulse on if she was really ready for all the detail.  I made sure she knew that this conversation would be the continuation of many, that all sorts of things would spawn from this one book and I’ve already found myself referring back to our time that afternoon in situations that have come up since~ like last night.  With the cat out of the bag, it has made other subjects easier to talk about.   Through lingerie and clothing store ads, she can easily recognize how the world "shouts out" what God meant to be shared privately between a husband and wife.  Because she knows God’s original design for sexuality, she can now, at times, recognize how the world twists, distorts, ruins and turns it inside out.

A few other things I’d recommend, other than these books, is to encourage your daughter to write down questions in a journal as they pass through her mind when you are not around so she can ask you later.  She had more questions about The Care and Keeping of You book than anything else and they were GOOD questions.  The second thing is to have your husband bridge the gap with her that same day, maybe at tuck in, while it is fresh on her mind and to encourage dialogue from a man’s perspective too.  Our husbands have a corner on the market when it comes to insight on boys that our girls need.  The last thing, which is from Mary Flo Ridley, is to have a “banner message” that you want your kids to know about sex.  Come up with something simple like, “Sex is a gift from God for marriage.” and in those talks, emphasize the beauty and the boundaries of sex.

As parents, we have the privilege to share a Biblical perspective on all aspects of life.  The world works overtime, I believe, to distort our society's view~ our children's view~ on this area of sexuality.  It gets exhausting just thinking about all the images around town, in the mailbox, on the television, and in the newspaper.  We've got to be the ones holding up the picture of beauty and grace that God meant for it to be.  We must hold it high and often.  Our kids will thank us one day.


Patti said...

Reading this made me very emotional. I was thinking it was time to start thinking about thinking about getting ready to maybe start preparing for some of these questions. Then I would panic and pretend it was never going to happen. Then I realized we have some science memory work coming up in a few weeks that mentions several different ways animals reproduce. And I have a feeling my always inquisitive 7 year old is definitely going to need a bit more information than "live birth." I don't think she is ready (she is generally a little slow to want to know things that might make her uncomfortable) which is going to require a special measure of wisdom from me to know exactly what words to use, and when to stop. I think I shall read this again to give myself courage. It's such a beautiful gift to have this sweet and open relationship that leads to this level of trusting communication. Thanks for sharing this.

his said...

I hope she will help me understand all of this next! I have a lot of questions!

Jeff Sanders

Mike and Molly Spivey said...

Bahahaha - Jeff's comment seriously made me laugh out loud! too funny!

Krista, great post and this will be a great resource for other scared momma's when it comes to "the talk." The culture is in our faces with this topic and it makes me so nervous for our children - asking the Lord for wisdom to speak truth into our boys!

- Molly

TJ Wilson said...

on this - thankful you are ahead of me!! a really great record of a great START to conversations... love that Julia.

Elaine said...

I keep thinking we need this conversation soon too. Thanks for the tips!

Anonymous said...

I echo Patti here: I am going to save this for reference. This is a thoughtful and well-written post about some difficult conversations. Thanks so much for sharing.