December 08, 2015
Birds and Bees and Dildo: Sex Talk with My Boy

For this mom, nothing is off limits when it comes to sex talk with his son.

by Dini Respati
Issues // Gender and Sexuality
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 “Ibu, what is a dildo?’’ Asked my nine-year old, yanking me from a state of near slumber one night. 
 
“What was the question again, dear?” I asked, trying to sound as calm as I could, while battling surging panic. Thoughts of my son becoming a porn-addict or a sexaholic filled my head.
 
“What is a dildo?’’ he asked casually, his eyes fixed on his iPad screen, as his pudgy little fingers squashed little soldiers in the Clash of Clans game.
 
“How did you know about dildo?’” I asked him.
 
“Um, from a friend,’’ he replied.
 


”And does your friend have a name?’‘ I tried to fish out more information.
 
“I forgot.”
 
“How could you forget your friend’s name,’‘ I snapped in panic, partly because I found that it’s more difficult to answer his question than explaining how a baby is conceived since I’ve never used a dildo – or even seen it in real life.



“I forgot, ok? Why don’t you believe me,’’ he responded in near tears, startled by my high-pitch voice. He started squirming uneasily, which was a sign for me to stop badgering him. I calmed myself down and grabbed my phone to Google-searched “9-years old and dildo”.
 
After getting some ideas, I told him: “Dildo is a fake penis made of rubber. Only adults can use it and they have to use it in private like in a closed room. It’s not for kids.’‘
 
To my surprise, he was laughing out loud. He seemed to be satisfied with the answer because he stopped asking and dozed off in a matter of minutes.
 
It’s not the first sex talk I had with my son, but with each new question, it’s always a new experience for me trying to explain it to him. Raised by a mother who was distant with her children didn’t help me either. I never recall my sisters and I having a mother-daughter moment with our mother or having her told us about menstruation, pregnancy or just generally about our reproductive system.
 
I remember being terrified seeing my breasts beginning to grow when I was 9 years old, as I thought I had breast cancer and could die any time. It may sound funny now, but at the time, not knowing what to expect when your body started developing, it was scary.
 
I still recalled how my mother reacted when I told her about my first menstruation.
 
“Eh” was her only response – her eyes fixated on the TV screen. It was like Gru’s mom in Despicable Me who only says “eh” every time he tells her of his achievements. There were never talks about what having a period means for a woman. Everything I know about woman’s reproduction and sex I learned either from my sisters, friends and reading Sidney Sheldon’s books.
 
So I don’t want my son to think that he’s terminally ill when he gets a boner.  Also, he is growing up at a time when it is virtually impossible to block the incessant flow of digital information.  He can get information on sex from watching YouTube videos, surfing the net, or even from games that he downloads. The thing is many of the information come from unreliable sources.
 
I don’t want to keep my son fumbling his way when learning about sex, and I’m also not keen that he learns the wrong way about it. I decided that it’s better if he hears it from me than from other sources, including from his friends, and I try to make it comfortable for him to talk about sex with me. I have to admit, I don’t read child psychology books. I do go to one or two talk shows about sex education for kids or asking other parents about their experience.
 
It’s a lot of trial and errors but I try to find out what sort of information he wants to know and try to explain it based on facts and as simple as I could and what the risks are.
 
Facts and Risks
 
The first sex talk we had was when he was five.
 
He asked me about menstruation after he noticed that I didn’t fast during Ramadan. I explained that a woman produces egg, just like chicken or birds. If the egg didn’t get fertilized with seed or in this case, sperm, the egg died and come out as bloody discharge. If the egg fertilized with the sperm, it becomes a baby.

Of course his next question was how the “seed” ends up in my belly. After browsing for a while, I found an education animation from Germany on YouTube about pregnancy process. While we’re watching a 5-minute cartoon on pregnancy, I explained to him that having a baby is only for grown ups because it carries a lot of responsibility to raise a baby such as buying food and clothes. That means one need to have a proper job when having a baby. 


 
When he entered his phallic phase, just like many parents, I panicked a little when seeing my 5-year old touching his penis. After a talk with a psychologist and after going to a sex education talk show, I learned that it was his way of learning his body. And later I also found out that kids do it because they are bored (yes, because of boredom, not lust or sexual drive).
 
I didn’t prevent him from masturbating, because, let’s face it, everybody masturbates. But I didn’t want him to be pre-occupied with it. When he was little, it was easy to distract him from touching his penis. It became harder when he’s older. So what I did was teaching him how to do it safely and, again, explaining to him the risks of overdoing it.
 
I told him that he should do it in private such as in his room and if he did it in public, he might risk being accused of obscenity, or, worst, it might attract people who want to sexually hurt him. I also reminded him to wash his hand before touching his genital, because he could get infection with the risk of having early circumcision (the circumcision risk worked like magic to stop him touching his penis). And, of course, at the same time I kept him busy with all sort of other activities like sports.


 
Sex talk became a challenge after I got a divorce, as he stays with me and spends less time with his dad. One morning, my son asked why his penis became hard in the morning. I told him honestly that I didn’t know the answer, and promised him to ask around.
 
So I called up a couple of my male friends and based on my friends‘ answer, I told him that it happened because he needed to pee in the morning. It’s like pumping water in a plastic bag. When the plastic is filled with water, the sack will grow hardened.
 
I also try to help him respect his body to avoid harassment. I told him that no one, including me, could touch his body, especially his private parts without his consent. It may sound weird but I do ask his permission if I want to kiss him. 


 
Having frank talks about sex with my son sometimes got me in a bit of trouble with his school. I got a couple of calls from his school, once because he asked his female classmates about how a girl pee, and another time because he explained to his classmates what cats do when they’re mating.
 
I know that many schools and parents aren’t keen to give their children sex education, as they fear it would make them become promiscuous. I won’t blame or judge them. But, to me, I’d prefer to talk openly because I won’t always be around him to tell him what to do or what to think. I also can’t be with him 24 hours a day to check what YouTube videos or games he watches. He could still be exposed to information on sex from sources that I don’t have any control of such as from his friends and from porn.
 
The best thing I can do is to give him information with all the risks and benefits. By openly discussing it I hope to prepare him to deal with difficult situation and to think for himself when making choices based on the known risks.
 
Dini reminds us in this piece why we shouldn’t be too attached to cheap fuel.
 
Dini Respati is a freelance writer who also does volunteer works from time to time at animal shelters.