Let’s Talk About Sex, Maybe : How I’m Answering Questions About ‘Boy Vaginas’


My daughter won’t be in middle school for a few years, which is good, because I start to get the terror sweats when I think about it. I will always remember middle school as a kind of hormonal nightmare show of mean girls, pre-algebra, and trying to navigate the “feminine hygiene” aisle at Giant, a grocery store up north. I deal with the inevitability of my own kid entering middle school by ignoring it completely and pretending that she will be a blissfully happy elementary student forever. For the most part, it works. We live across the street from our town’s middle school, so I just shut my eyes as I drive past it, assuming that middle schoolers are old enough to get out of the way of my car.

But then, every once in a while, something will force me to face reality: a sullen looking trick or treater at my doorstop, for instance, dressed in a too-small ninja turtles costume or a fundraising eighth grade cheerleader who has two volume settings: mumble and whisper. Last night, this reminder came in the form of a district-wide email about two horrifying words:

Sexual. Education.

Apparently, this is coming up fast for the uncomfortable youths of our little town, and the email made sure to let parents know that they could vet the subject matter at a board meeting before inevitably yanking their kids from the class, which is something people actually do here.

Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link that took me to the outside group that comes and does presentations at the middle school, presumably while dressed up like Shamey, The Talking Purity Ring and singing such abstinence ed classics as, “A Sticker’s No Fun After Being On Four Shirts”. Or something.

I knew we’d have to deal with this perplexing type of sex ed. My husband had abstinence education, and he turned out okay, mostly because his parents injected a little sanity into the ordeal. We agreed that I would take the lead on this, not because my husband is weirded out but because I got the opposite of whatever abstinence ed is. As in, lots of discussion about masturbation, consent, contraceptives, and this weird silicone nutsack and boob that we were all supposed to feel in order to find the mystery lump as a nod to self-exams.

Since I’m obviously the expert, and I have the matching equipment, I gladly—and a little superiorly—agreed to be my kid’s go to on all things downstairs related.

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You can reach this post's author, Theresa Edwards, on twitter.
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  • Valerie

    I feel like Shamey the Talking Purity Ring would be mortal enemies with the STD puppets from Chappelle Show.

    “We’re the crabs!”

  • MerlePerle

    I’ve always made it a point to be honest with my now 4-year old and to never use cutesy names for private parts. Right now, she only knows daddy put the baby inside mommy’s belly but no specifics as she hasn’t asked. But she knows her brother came out of mommy’s vagina, thanks to a very graphic children’s books. I will always try to have open and honest discussions with her. In Germany nobody waits till their married to have sex, so I’ll have to accept she may be sexually active before she’s ready to have a baby. And since accidental pregnancies are my number one parenting paranoia I’ll probably drown my kids in condoms as soon as they are out of elementary!

    • Andrea

      LOL, my son (at 2.5 years of age) asked me how the baby got out of the mommy’s tummy. I said, through birth canal. Which is entirely true and pre-empted any further questions as he had no clue what/where the birth canal is. I suck at parenting!

    • Robotic Socks

      the “peepee hole” would also have been an acceptable answer

    • Valerie

      The other day, my 6 year old informed me that babies come out of people’s butts.

    • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

      Well, 10 points for using butts in a sentence

    • MerlePerle

      That’s what my kid thought the book showed her. So I thought it best to tell her the truth! :)

    • SusannahJoy

      No, that would have been a very bad answer. I swear I know adults who thought that women pee out of their vaginas. Ugh.

    • Paul White

      It took me a long time to realize that wasn’t how it worked. Like, late high school.

      In my defense, we have one hole for ejaculation and urination so I figured women had one for sex/excretion as well….

    • Larkin

      I’ve encountered GROWN MEN who think this, and are amazed to discover it isn’t true. It’s bizarre.

    • Kendra

      I have a question that I have never really thought about until reading this. My daughter was born via C-section, but I would like to have VBAC’s in the future if possible. So, I’m curious now, if she asks me how she got out of my tummy, what the response should be? Should I tell her “her story” or should I tell her the “generic story”? I’m obviously over thinking this but now I need opinions.

    • MerlePerle

      I don’t know how old your kid is, but I would always choose the honest answer. That most kids come out of the vagina but sometimes a doctor needs to take the baby out by cutting through the belly. I have told my daughter this, too. She’s not to sensitive about stuff like that. I think kids usually accept the stuff we tell them as long as they sense we’re taking their questions seriously.

    • Kendra

      Thanks. She is only 19 months now, so I’ve got some time before I have to shield this question. I was thinking about something like what you’ve said here but I didn’t want her to feel “outcasted” by it. However, I think that is just my own negative feelings seeping into the topic rather than what she would actually be likely to feel.

    • MerlePerle

      I wouldn’t worry about it. I think around 30% of births are via c-section. So she won’t be the only one. And she’s probably never been on the Internet, so a c-section won’t have negative connotations for her! I

    • Kendra

      I’m sure that is true! I just have to make sure not to project my own on to her, but at least I’m already aware and have some time to practice!

    • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

      Yeah, I was a C section baby. That’s what my mom told me, that babies come out of the vagina, but sometimes they need to be cut out of the stomach instead.
      This was in the ’80s when C sections were less common. I felt pretty darn special, actually :P

  • ted3553

    I’ve got 2 teen aged step daughters and (surprising myself) have had many open and educating discussions with them over the years. I really want them to be knowledgeable and not have to rely on boneheaded friends or hormonal boys to tell them what they need to do with their bodies. They may make decisions that probably aren’t the greatest but it won’t be because they didn’t know about things.

  • EmmaFromÉire
    • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

      My fav gif!

  • koolchicken

    I think one of the up sides of c sections is that I can point and say “Right here!” when my kid eventually asks where babies come from. It’s the truth and he doesn’t need to know not everyone gets here that way. Once he is though I fully intend to pawn off the sex talk duties on my husband. After all he’s a doc and has all the same parts.

    I am happy to explain exactly the right way to treat women though. I want to think the girls he dates are being treated with respect. And society in general isn’t giving very many good examples. Teenaged boys are known for using their brains either. Also, I want to give my husband the benefit of the doubt but I want to avoid any stupid male bonding crap. You know the “I want you to wait until marriage, wink wink” garbage. So I’ll be listening in.

  • Joye77

    I recently talked to my 9 year old about penises and vaginas and the basics of sex. Next day we get a call that he was in class yelling “vagina”( though he claims he was arguing with a friend that it is not a bad word). Whatever. Next day I talked to the (male) principal about the situation. Watching that man squirm as I talked about penises and vaginas was awesome. He didn’t look in my eye once.

  • tk88

    Honestly I find the oddest thing about this article is that the author’s daughter never remembers anything about sex ed. Oh well, at least she is open and honest with her. It’ll sink in eventually.

    • Williwaw

      One of my friends said her mom supplemented the sex talk with a pop-up book about sex. I think that would be awesome and might get the attention of a kid that is otherwise uninterested in sex ed…

    • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

      I think it’s more that she remembers the female stuff because she’s a girl.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I’m hoping to be frank about sex matters with my son from an early age, just the facts, no nonsense because it’s reasonable stuff for a kid to ask about.
    We’ll see how I do. I think you’re doing great.

  • SunnyD847

    When she was 11, I bought my daughter the American Girl’s book about puberty which is really great. Very frank, no b.s. The night after I left it on her bed I came in to say goodnight and she looked at me with horror in her eyes and asked ” Is this TRUE?” Uh, what part? “That I’m going to bleed….from THERE.” Uh, yeah, sorry honey :)

  • Kittydelite

    My four year old asked me why she had a tail.
    I told her it was called a clitoris.
    Then she asked me what it was for…and I played the “what do YOU think it is for?” card.
    So, it’s for making your pee go down into the toilet instead of up into the air.

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