Sunday, April 01, 2012

Jitter(s)bug

"Auntie Jane? What is a wet dream?"

Uh...what?

There I was. My 15-year-old niece and my 12-year-old nephew sat at my feet as we basked in the summer sun on my 8th floor apartment balcony and my niece - naive? - asked me that question, their sheltered Mormon faces turned toward me expectantly as I sucked harder than usual on my Marlboro menthol.

Shit.

Uh...

Do I answer honestly or dance around the subject and direct them toward their conservative parents?

Since I'm a terrible dancer, I set out to answer the question as honestly as possible. As far as I was concerned, both were of an age to know what I was talking about and both were of an age that they needed a non-parental unit to talk to about all this stuff. Blushing furiously, possibly stammering a bit, I tried to explain as best I could.

Whatever I said, it must have worked. As a reward, both of them, as they've reached their late teens and early 20's, continue to turn to me to have their sexual and/or relationship questions answered. Sometimes it's late-night texts, occasionally frantic work day phone calls, sometimes I'll get pages upon pages of an e-mail with heartbreak and angst written between the lines.

Because I didn't dance around the issue that very first time, because I talk to them about sex in such a way that there is no shame, no secrecy, no taboo topic, they trust my answers. I proved that I love them unconditionally. I asserted myself as an ally as they grew up and began to spread their fragile wings.

I do the best I can. I try to remember what it was like at their age and try not to expect them to understand all the lessons I've learned in the 18+ years I've got on them.

And I rarely ever blush anymore.



Written for the GBE2 (Group Blogging Experience) prompt: "Dancing".

23 comments:

Jo said...

I really love this story, Jane. It matters so much in this world we live in now, that our kids and I mean all the kids we love, have someone who will just shoot straight and fill all the answers with love and honesty.
Such lucky people to have Aunt Jane to turn to.

Jenn and Casey said...

So important that they have a safe person to talk to about those kind of things. What a great Aunt!!

Word Nerd said...

Good for you! I was always really straightforward with my kids-my daughters and my son. I started when they were young and no subject was ever off limits. We had lots of conversations that would have made my hubby--who wasn't nearly as comfortable as I was answering their questions--fall right over. :OD

ElizabethSheryl said...

I'm sure they are very glad to have an Aunt like you. :)

ElizabethSheryl said...

I'm sure they are very glad to have an Aunt like you. :)

Gaelyn said...

You definitely made the wise choice at the beginning. Children and tween/teens need to feel comfortable talking to an adult about sex. A successful dance.

Peaceful Warrior said...

Dear Auntie Jane.

Again, you showed a deep level of awareness which no doubt has helped your Niece and Nephew both to realise that the whole world isn't crazy (because maybe their parents weren't equipped to deal with such matters) and also that it is important to ask for some guidance, rather than blindly go on.
Well done for being so courageous as to take it on and deal with it, not dance around it or sweep it under the carpet.
The world needs more like you Jane.
You are a bright light. Thank you.
P.W.

Paula Martin said...

Great post - and what a lovely 'reward' you have had through not dancing around the subject.

Laine Griffin said...

What an excellent post! It reminds me of my relationship with my much younger little sisters. I've always been open and honest because the alternative is horrifying! I do/plan to do the same with my kids. I would much rather have to learn not to blush and stammer than have them get wrong information or take some of the risks that I took.

a.eye said...

Great that they have some one to talk to about things they need/want to know, but may not feel comfortable talking with others about.

Claudia Moser said...

You are a great aunt, that is for sure!

cdnkaro said...

Glad they have you to talk to! I hope my kids will feel ok asking me about anything as well...time will tell. Remind me to tell you the story about my 'sex talk' with my parents sometime, k?

cjgorden said...

Hi Jane! Glad to find your blog from Michaelsfishbowl. I'm another Minnesotan. Great story! I try to be as honest as the kids, no matter how difficult. My gradeschool-age son told me one day there was "a rumor going around school" that a boy could wear something on his (insert alternate personality here) that would keep a girl from getting pregnant. I told him that one was true. "REALLY?" he said. He was so sure it was a fable. So we talked about the many things they're called, how they work and why sometimes they don't. Then I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Lucy said...

Oh, they have a great Aunt but I am so damn glad none of my nieces or nephews asked me that one and I won't even begin to tell you how long it took me to figure it out, well, let us just say my husband explained to me, now that is sad, so terribly sad and trust me I was no angel just some things go over my head LOL

dbstevens said...

I grew up in a very religious environment and never actually had the sex talk with relatives. I'm the youngest of four, so maybe they just thought someone else had told me? Or that I'd bring it up? Or that my Health Class had covered the basics? Or that if abstinence til marriage was a must, which it was, that my future husband could go over it with me?

It wasn't until after my first marriage fell apart that my sister took me aside and tried to have the conversation about what was/wasn't appropriate sex.

So many mixed thoughts.

Anyway, thanks for your story. It makes my heart hurt in many ways.

Shari said...

Wonderful.:) I make it a point to answer all of my kids' questions honestly. I do not want them growing up the way I did: so ashamed of their bodies and curiosity that they can't ask questions. It's not easy to field those questions, but it's worth it. I know someday they will need someone other than me to ask too, and I hope they have someone like you in their lives by then.

Kathy said...

I think that is wonderful of you Jane! You told them straight up.

Kathy
http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

Jenn said...

I only could have hoped for someone like you in my life when I was their age. I didn't have that one person--and it wasn't something you could just talk to Mom about. Thank God I had some really close friends I could confide in--although they weren't older--they'd listen without judging.

Great post!!

Cheers, Jenn
http://www.wine-n-chat.com

Suzy said...

They are lucky kids. So important to be honest with kids. Loved your take on the prompt.

Masked Mom said...

We've always gone the non-dancing route with our kids, but I know some parents who are unwilling or unable to do so and it's great when kids do have a trusted adult in their lives to turn to. Regarding our tactics with our kids, it may have worked a little too well. As I've posted before, I am not such a fool as to think they tell me everything, but they've said specific enough things that I have no doubt they know they can tell/ask me anything.

November Rain - k~ said...

Jane, I enjoyed reading about your directness with your niece and nephew. If they are not taught that it is an embarrassing topic in the first place, the chances of them being able to talk to their mate, to you, and others as they grow will continue.

My experience with my nieces was at a much younger age, they were 7 & 8 and the 7 year old had been looking at one of my photo albums. In it, were pictures of my pregnancy, bare belly and all. She was fascinated with how the baby got "in there" and wanted to know how it happened (in detail). I turned it over to my brother and sister-in-law, and the next day she tossed me a book on how to talk to them. It was something I was not ready to tackle for them, but did so any who. I figured that honesty was the best policy, but I also had a bit younger audience! :-)

Melanie said...

You did the difficult thing in discussing sex with your niece and nephew. It would have been so much easier to brush it off. Wish I had had an Aunt Jane!

Mike said...

Wonderful! It is so critical that younger kids/teens have someone to confide in that will answer them straight up. Good job by YOU.