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Charlie Stewart
 

First Person: On not talking The Talk

How do kids these days find out about sex? Not from this dad, alas
Saturday, May 31, 2003
 
I was busy minding my own business one morning last week when a front-article in the Post-Gazette on the sexual practices of 12-to-14-year-olds caught my attention. "20 Percent Have Sex Before 15," the headline blared.
The first very interesting thing I learned is that 12-year-olds are now considered teenagers. This was news to me which, I guess, is why we have newspapers in the first place. The second thing I gleaned is that my son, being 12, has a one-in-five chance of having you know what. Unfortunately, the article reminded me that my wife had told me (yes, toldme), let us say six months or so ago, to give him The Talk. Somehow it had slipped my mind (perhaps because I would rather clean the hair out of the shower drain), but now I remember how that conversation went.
"Have you talked to our son yet?"
"About what?"
"You know perfectly well about what."
"I do?"
"Yes, you do."
"Well, I guess that's a 'no,' then."
"So, when are you going to talk to him?"
"Soon."
"Soon is not good enough. You need to set a date. How about this weekend?"
"Why do I have to talk to him?"
"You're his father. It's your job and I told the girls."
"Are those the only reasons you can come up with?"
"I'm sure if you give me a minute I'll come up with three more."
"Well, what if I find an older boy, someone our son can relate to, and he can tell our son? That's what my father did."
"Yes, and, as I recall, you learned absolutely nothing because you were too embarrassed to admit you didn't know anything and so you told him you knew everything, when actually you didn't know a thing."
"That's true. I had to wait until college to find out what was what."
Soon, my son and I were alone one early Saturday morning on the way back from hockey practice. (I had lost my nerve on the way to practice.) I turned the radio off.
"I want to talk to you about sex," I heard myself saying. Had I really said that?
No sooner had the words squeaked out of my mouth than the reply came back. "That's stupid."
"I know," I said. "I didn't have sex until I was a lot older than you are, but . . ."
"I don't want to hear about your love life."
"I think it's important you learn about sex."
"I already know,"
"How?"
"You pick it up."
"Well, that's what worries me. I want to make sure you get the right information."
"I'm going to give you the silent treatment," he threatened.
So, that's how that went down. No wonder there's teen pregnancy. This so-called "tradition" of The Talk that is supposedly handed down from father to son, generation by generation, probably got no further than Adam. What are your options when you are told, "That's stupid!" "Gross!" or "I'm jumping out of the car if you tell me any more?"
I've been wondering what I'm going to do for the rest of my life and I think I've hit on it. I'm going to produce a DVD called "The Talk." It should come in handy as a symbol to our wives of our good intentions. It will actually be blank inside to save on the production costs and boost profits a bit.
"Son, my father gave me this DVD when I was 12 and now I pass it on to you. Notice that it's still in its original sealed packaging. I recommend you don't open it either. Better to learn the hard way, like I did."
"And, in case you don't open it, I just need to say one thing."
"Please don't."
"If you could just let me say...."
"Don't."
"Remember to use a . . . "
"I'm not list-en-ing."

P.S. My son will disown me if he finds out I wrote this. So, we never had this talk, OK?
Re-printed with permission from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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