I believe it would be possible to teach our children well enough that we might not need so many legal controls on what they can do sexually. I believe we are nowhere near that level of maturity as a species.
Absolutely. Part of the point that I wanted to make with my post about young girls in Guatemala and Afghanistan is that the laws don't matter.
I want my daughter to grow up to be a happy, healthy woman who embraces her own sexuality. At 5 1/2, she is 3 years removed from potty training, and perhaps as little as 3 years removed from puberty.
When I hear people say that once she hits puberty she is fair game to be put on film for men to jerk off to, I feel like I want to hide her away from the world, rather than encourage her to be a strong, secure person who asks questions and makes her own, informed decisions. But I won't.
I’ve always tried to be really open and honest with her about all aspects of sexuality, in an age appropriate way. Kids are curious. They want to know stuff. I remember once having a conversation with her when she was about 3, and we were talking about the fact that all girls have vaginas and all boys have penises. She was really quite surprised. She said “ALL BOYS have penises?” And I said yes. She then announced “Oh. Ok. I’ll ask J to show me his penis tomorrow” (in preschool.) I explained that we don’t show people our genitalia in public, and immediately got on the phone with a mom of a 3 year old friend of hers, to say that I wanted my daughter to be around for diaper changes on the friend’s 1 year old brother. My daughter clearly wanted to see a penis, so I made sure she got to see one. Little did I know that 4-6 year old boys enjoy showing them off, and that in the next two years, she would have another few opportunities to see male genitalia. A 4 year old friend pulled down his pants on a busy urban street, and held his penis up for my daughter and all passerby’s to see. Much to the dismay of his father, who rushed to remedy the situation. And twice in kindergarten, once in the classroom, and once at recess, she has reported to me that different boys have exposed themselves.
I love that she talks to me. Even when she is not telling me stuff I want to hear.
She has also told me that she “lip kissed” a boy in Spanish class, and that she “touched tongues” with a girl on the school bus. She sees no relationship between kissing and tongue touching. The tongue touching seems to have been the girls’ response to boys that were spitting on the bus. I suggested that all contact with saliva, especially during cold and flu season, is not a really good idea. I’ll need to recant on that one later. But it was the best I could come up with at the moment. In terms of the kissing, she presented the story with more of a “yuck” attitude than the tongue touching. She always goes “yuck” when the prince and the princess kiss. After clarifying that in spite of the “yuck” she was not forced into the kiss, I pointed out that some day there will probably be a special someone who she will want to kiss a lot. To which she responded “yuck.’
At 5 ½, of course she is curious. But she is far, far away from coming into her own sexuality. We had a talk the other night, in which she seemed to have the misconception that pregnant women can’t urinate or defecate, or the baby will fall out of their vaginas and into the toilet. I ran to get a children’s book on the human body that we had looked at many times before, and tried to explain the relationships between the various orifices and internal parts like the bladder, colon and uterus, but in all honesty, she had gotten herself so silly about the baby falling in the TOILET that she really didn’t focus. It seems that in spite of all of my conscious efforts, she is not really clear on how many orifices she has, let alone where they lead to and what they do.
But three years removed from potty training, potty jokes trump all. She is many many many years away from coming into her own sexuality.
I hate having the talks about “no one can every touch your body in a way you don’t like. Except sometimes the doctor, but only when mommy is there.” And then having her scream that J touched her body in a way she didn’t like while his mom and I were watching them play tag and he crashed into her too hard. But J’s mom smiled and nodded and understood.
I hate having the talks about never following a man who says he has candy or kittens and never getting close to the car door of a man you don’t know, and how she needs to scream if someone tries to take her out of the park or somewhere she doesn't want to go.
But I am so grateful that she comes home and talks about penises on the playground and lip kisses in Spanish class and tongue touching on the bus, because I want her to always be able to talk to me.
She will carry condoms long before either of us is emotionally ready for her to use them. And I hope that she continues to takes hundreds of little baby steps (on her own terms) in a long, slow journey to becoming the strong, confidant, joyful sexual woman that she is meant to be.