“Mom, what is rape*?” asks Adam in the car on Saturday afternoon. It was just Kate, Adam and myself on the way back from the Root44 market. A question that sparked off the most wonderful conversation between the three of us. The timing was perfect. The two of them were sitting in the back, me in the drivers seat, staring straight ahead and trying my best not to let the grin creep into my voice. Not at the rape question of course, but at the conversation that followed after my explanation.
I explained to them that rape was when one person wanted to have sex and the other person didn’t. I said that it was important to remember that when you have sex one day, it needs to be something that both people agree on. One person should never force sex on another person if the other person doesn’t want it. And everyone is allowed to say they don’t want sex. A no is a no. Kate interjects with gusto: “I choose no!” she states. (Kate is determined not to have a boyfriend or get married ever because boys are gross and stupid). I say that I am glad she says no now, but maybe one day when she is older she might want to say yes. She says she wont. I say fine.
Adam asks “but why doesn’t the person who wants to have sex just find another person who also wants to have sex?” Exactly my child. I explained to them that rape wasn’t just about sex; it is about power and violation. That rape often happened alongside violence. Adam then said that if anyone had to put a gun to his head, he would do a karate chop and then kick them in the knee and then poke them in the eye and then he would…. “AND THAT IS WHY WE NEED A POCKET KNIFE MOM!!” Kate interjects midstream! She just can’t let go of the pocketknife thing.
(There was a stall at the market selling knifes and pocketknives. They were begging me to get one. I said no, it is too dangerous. Kate declares dramatically “We are NINE years old already mom, when are you going to TRUST US?!”)
Adam then asks “So what is it like?” What, I ask? (still chuckling at the pocket knife comment). Sex, he says, what does it feel like? OooKkk. I am trying not to grin too much, thankful I am facing forward so they can’t see my smile. Feeling a little sweaty at the thought of having to explain to my children what sex feels like, but determined to use this opportunity to gently educate them about sex. “It feels good when it happens between two (grown up!) people who really like or love each other.”. Why do people do it, he asks, to make a baby? I explain that people do it to make a baby but also because that is one of the ways adults show love for each other. Oh, he says. Kate asks: “So, do you and Dad do it?” EEEK! “Yes we do” I reply calmly but having a little cringe. It feels very strange discussing your sex life with your 9 year old children. “So how long does it last?” asks Adam. OMG! How long does it last??! What should I say! “Well, it can last a few seconds to like, 30 minutes or so”. Kate asks: “So not like 2 hours or something?” I am tempted to say “only in the movies” but I stick to “no, that seems a bit long, I think people would get tired by then”. Adam asks: “So how long do you and Dad do it for?” O.M.G! “All different times” I reply. Ok, they say. I explain to them that sex is something that should only happen between two people who agree to have sex with each other and should only happen when you are grown up, children shouldn’t be having sex. I explain that even teenagers can have a baby if they have sex, so it is better not to have sex too young. I tell them again that a ‘no’ is a no when it comes to sex. I explain that sex is a private matter and shouldn’t be discussed with friends on the playground etc. I remind them that their privates are private and no one is allowed to touch them unless they give permission. We discuss the red, orange and green zones on the body. And then they see something on the road that distracts them and our conversation is over.
It was such a great opportunity to talk about sex in an open, honest manner and even though it was a bit uncomfortable for me in parts (how long do you and Dad do it for! OMG!), I am so glad we did. I have always been determined that I want my children to learn about sex and the associated issues from me, and not in a negative way on the playground. I am sure they will still get exposed to it on the playground, but I want them to hear it from me first.
I drove home with a big grin on my face. Such a cute, honest, real conversation. I hope we can always communicate so openly.
*The reason why Adam asked the question is that he overheard someone mention the word at the market we were at.