I noticed in our daily newspaper, The Houston Chronicle, that there is a book signing tomorrow by actors Tiffani Theisen and Brady Smith for the book they created, “You’re Missing It!” It’s a children’s book with a great message for parents about raising children in a plugged-in — over techy — capture it all on video world. Tiffani reminds Brady to pay attention when he is with their son, rather than being on his cell phone, and a book is born.
As a single mother, there were many conversations that my now 25-year-old daughter and I had when we were together. Those were the best times. The times before cell phones. The times before we were so enamored, and often entirely seduced by technology. The times we actually talked.
One conversation happened when I picked her up from school and asked her about her day. She was in the third grade.
“My friend Rashida is religious, and right now they fast until nighttime,” she announced. Being half Italian, she’d already grasped the close relationship we had with food and seemed incredulous that someone would give it up. I smiled with the appreciation of her exposure to other cultures, and ask her if she knew what religion Rashida was.
After a thoughtful pause, she said, “I think it is lesbian.”
“Do you mean Muslin, honey?” I asked her, proud that I could maintain the conversation with an inquisitive solemnity.
“Yes, that’s it.” She answered.
A second memorable conversation took place a couple of years later while we were traveling in our car with our best friends. Angie was a single mom like me, with two daughters, one a year younger than Hannah and one a year older. Julia also went to Hannah’s school but her older sister, Maggie, was already in middle school, a public middle school, a public middle school for the arts. Did this contribute to her advanced exposure to all things sexual? Maybe this was the age that children learned about the ins and outs, pun intended, of sexual intercourse. My exposure in a Catholic school was more austere – no technology to assist – and sex education by both my mother and Sister Marie Immaculate was all inclusive with the statement, “keep your legs crossed.”
Now, here we were, two progressive mothers who vowed to have open and honest conversations with their own daughters. The radio was off. There were no cells phones to distract, and we could hear the girls flirting with a discussion about sex. The conversation between our pre-teen daughters had a tentative, slow build of tension, again, pun intended, and finally peaked into the question, “What is a climax?”
My friend Ann and I took a deep breath, savoring the moment, and nodded surreptitiously to one another. We were ready. We weren’t gonna miss it. Doors were locked, windows were up, and here we were with the golden opportunity of a trapped car to discuss the topic of sex. We started with the technical – “A climax is a building of tension that will eventually result in a release. Sexually, we call the release an orgasm. It is a very pleasurable sensation.”
A few questions were asked, as the girls considered our answer, putting pieces together and shaking their heads up and down, now understanding more of the many conversations had by the older middle schoolers, and the legends spoken by more advanced, elementary aged playground storytellers.
Just as they seemed to get their fill of questions answered, I decided to add a personal touch.
“Regarding the pleasure of the sexual experience, for me….”
“Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa,” came out of my daughter’s mouth, an unwavering exclamation to ensure a complete and immediate stop.
“I am not interested in your personal experience. Not interested at all.”
While my friend Ann’s mouth began to open and before any sound could escape, “That goes for you too, mom.” said Maggie and Julia in unison.
“Well, okay,” I said. “I guess the conversation is over.”
And it was, at least for that time. Looking back 13 years later, I am so glad I didn’t miss it. You won’t want to miss it either, Brady.