I've read a couple blog posts recently that revolved around parents having 'the talk' with their sons. They were funny and sweet and guilt-inducing.
I've been a bad mom, and this is one of my spectacular parental fails.
My older son was many things as a child. He was smart and funny. He was inquisitive and extremely physical. He was also stubborn.
I'm talking professional level stubborn.
Trying to get my son to do a chore or clean up after himself was a never-ending battle. He could dig his heels in and hold on with a tenacity that could move mountains. But not mountains of dirty clothes, because he wasn't picking that sh*t up.
You could nag, plead, threaten and punish and he wouldn't do what he was asked to do. I grounded him, took away TV privileges, confiscated his electronic devices and made him stay in his room with nothing but a book, and he would wait me out every time. I did not have his stamina.
I'm a stubborn person, but I am an amateur compared to my son.
Then, when he was around 9 years old, something miraculous and unexpected happened when I decided it was time to have 'the talk' with him.
I grew up in a household where sex was not discussed. Not ever. I learned everything I know about sex on the mean streets of Dry Ridge, Kentucky. I wanted it to be different for my children. I didn't want them to feel uncomfortable with asking questions about sex or feel ashamed about themselves. I wanted an open dialogue.
My son, however, did not.
When I approached the subject of sex, I saw something happen that I had never seen before. He wavered.
His defiant exterior didn't crumble, but I did see it weaken and I immediately seized the opportunity. I am not proud of what happened next.
I didn't want to push the subject of sex on my child, I didn't want him to have any of the hang-ups that I've had to work through over the years, so I backed off.
What I should have said was: OK, Zach. That's fine. I just want you to know that I am here to answer any questions you have about sex. You have nothing to worry about and I will always be available when you are comfortable with discussing sex with me.
What I said was: That's fine. We don't have to talk about sex. Instead, you can unload the dishwasher.
I didn't have to ask a second time.
For the next year, I got that kid to do all of his chores by giving him a choice between two things. Either complete the chore or we could have the sex talk.
Eventually, that tactic no longer worked, but for a whole year, that kid had a clean bedroom and I didn't spend half my waking hours nagging a fourth grader to get his homework done.
He's 27 now and has been living with his girlfriend for two years. I'm pretty sure he's had all of his questions answered and if not? Well, I am no longer willing to discuss his sex life with him.
In fact, if he tried, I'd probably volunteer to unload his dishwasher.