So I had the sex talk with my 9-year-old daughter the other day, and I’m happy to report I CRUSHED IT. But let me tell you, the odds were stacked against me. Mom was at work, and my knowledge of female anatomy is... ummm, not embarrassingly terrible?
It started when my kid admitted to watching a somewhat inappropriate YouTube video. I told her, “You know, there’s a big difference between the fantasy scenarios you see in videos and real life sexual situations.” This was followed by a boilerplate statement I’ve been repeating since she was seven: “If you ever have any questions about sex, be sure to ask—I’ll be completely honest.” However, unlike the 127 times prior, this time she actually had questions! PANIC.
“Does the man’s penis go in the girl’s pee-hole?” PANIC.
“Do people have sex in each others’ bottoms?” PANIC.
Switching to “dad mode,” I immediately swallowed my fear (suppressing emotional responses is my super power) and looked at her with calm, wizened serenity.
“Good question! No, the penis does not go into the woman’s pee-hole,” I said. “Let’s Google a diagram of female anatomy, and I’ll show you what I’m talking about.” (Note: My father was lousy when it came to talking about sex, but in his defense, he didn’t have the internet.) I also deftly sidestepped the “sex in each others’ bottoms” question by telling her that sexual positions are less important than having a partner who truly cares for her, respects her comfort level, and is focused on what makes her feel safe and happy.
Long story short, this was a big moment in my parenting life, and I crushed it. Am I bragging? Damn right. But I’ll admit I’m not the best dad in the world. I lose my temper occasionally. I let my kids have too much sugar and screen time. And I’m refreshing Twitter when I’m supposed to be playing dolls. I mess up. A LOT. But on sex talk day, when it really mattered, I crushed it. I hope that, every now and then, you stop to realize you’re crushing it too.
All the parenting books in the world can’t prepare you for the reality of raising kids. Your entire life—eating, sleeping, the way you spend free time—has been suddenly and shockingly revised. Now there’s only one prime directive: keeping your children safe, fed, and healthy (and teaching them manners, so they don’t grow up to be jerks). And like me, you’re probably messing up a lot and secretly thinking that, as a parent, you’re the worst. But as the old saying goes, “80 percent of success is showing up.” And you’re showing up... every single day. So everything you do above and beyond showing up? I call that “crushing it,” my friend.
Despite what books and know-it-alls may tell you, there are no one-size-fit-all answers, and there never will be. But know this: Even when the answer temporarily eludes you, you’re still showing up. You’re still trying. And you’re still crushing it.
Keep up the good work. You’re doing it right.