I should have known by the way he put his face down in his arms and said, "Uh - I don't really want to talk about this right now." I was threatening to talk to my son about the facts of life. Not the TV show with Alan Thicke, but the nitty gritty details about how boys are different from girls and all the rest.
I would love to be able to say that I had determined this to be the perfect moment for such a conversation via some extraordinary response to the parenting gene that I carry, or that I was stirred by some outward sign in my son. But that wouldn't be true. I decided to have "the talk" because I didn't want his school to beat me to the punch.
Yesterday, he came home with his permission slip to be signed. The boys will go to one room to watch "the movie," and the girls will go to another to watch "their movie." When it's all over, my son will know more than I do, I'm sure. I know this because I never got to see my "movie." I must have been sick that day, or maybe I managed to find a way to skip out on it. Whatever the reason, I spent a good deal of my teenage years being blithely unaware of just how rocky and tempestuous puberty was going to be.
I blame my own precociousness. I'm sure my parents were fooled by my oh-so-clever-responses to their queries, and my older brother certainly did what he could to keep me in the loop. I just never felt comfortable about the whole subject, and chose to steer wide of it whenever I could. Just like I am right now.
That's why I chose to talk to my son about sex last night after we had finished dinner. He's a pretty smart kid, and I'm sure he could find his own ways to avoid the inevitable, but sooner or later he's going to want to know the finer points. I started by using the words that make every kid who is a stone's throw from puberty snicker. He made a few faces, but hung with me. We agreed that we didn't have to talk about all the specifics just now, but he knew that his voice was going to start getting lower, and that he was going to grow taller and grow hair - everywhere.
He lived through it and so did I. We agreed that sex is a lot like roller coasters: People like to ride them because they're exciting, but it's not something you can do every day all the time because then it won't be fun anymore. Maybe by the time we're ready to have the talk again, I'll come up with a better metaphor.