When I was thirteen, I asked my mother about sex. She stammered, blushed and changed the subject. Fortunately, for me anyway, I had a library card. Karen Robards, Linda Howard and other romance authors of the 80s taught me about sex.
Armed with a lot of unreasonable expectations, I went off to college where I lost my virginity at nineteen to a boy named Jesse. Through happenstance, or maybe just blind luck, his skills as a lover actually exceeded what I'd been led to expect.
As I've grown older, I've come to realize that being a parent is rough. I've had children of my own, and I've given the topic of sex education a great deal of consideration. In fact, I've planned for the moment when one of my own children will ask me about sex.
What will I say? How will I say it? I've stayed educated on various methods of birth control and STDs. I possess a thorough understanding of the human reproductive system and I'm okay with one of my kids being gay. More than anything, I want my children to be prepared to enter the world as informed participants with the knowledge they need to make the right decisions.
I have a white board and color markers. Stick figures. Directional arrows.
Unfortunately, the school system seems to have taught the boy everything he needs to know. And any mention of sex sends my teenage son into a convulsive seizure, resulting in a total communication shutdown.
"Son," I say, "as soon as you're ready to talk about sex, go ahead and ask your old mom."
"MOM, GROSS!" His hand shoots up in a STOP-gesture and his neck disappears so deep into his chest his eyeballs are barely visible.
"No, really, son. I'm only too happy to help you. Nothing is taboo or off-limits."
"REALLY, MOM!" he shouts, slouching toward his bedroom, muttering beneath his breath. Then the door slams shut and he's not seen again for a minimum of twenty-four hours.
I sigh and eyeball my ten-year-old who has the emotional maturity of a blue berry scone, thinking maybe in a few years.
On the opposite end of the generational spectrum, my mother stares at my novel cover and asks, "Is that your X-rated book?"
I sigh and say, "Mom, I write erotica, not porn."