"Auntie Jane? What is a wet dream?"
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.
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".