Saturday morning was shaping up to be like any normal weekend. Sleeping in, The Chad and I enjoying coffee and a bit of indulgence in our favorite MMORPG. We whipped up some breakfast for the three footers, retreated for some more quiet time at which time G and his sibling entourage asked for their 30 minutes of play time on their tablets. The Chad and I see the importance of practicing with technology as we found their standardized tests include capturing these skills, so we obliged to their request. Little did we know that G would take advantage of this play time and he would be exposed to material beyond his years. He wound up on adult sites and when we discovered his transgressions, at that moment I wasn’t ready to be a parent, I wasn’t ready for my 11 year old son to be exposed, I wasn’t ready to accept my son was growing up way too fast.
When The Chad found G fumbling with his tablet and his face stark with surprise, almost ghastly, we knew something was wrong. The Chad snagged the tablet and we began to review the history. What we saw was something no parent is ever prepared to digest.
We immediately addressed the discontinued use of the tablets and any other technology until further notice. Our daftness was slapping us squarely in the face. Assumptions that we made that our children were too young to seek out these urges were piercing us. We needed to take corrective action post haste, while too late, we had to prevent future damages.
I stood in my kitchen, gazing lovingly at my little boy, sick to my stomach. My doe eyed, chubby baby who was always happy was now exposed to something way beyond his young years. When did he start to grow up? I was choking down tears as my jaw was clenched in pain to hide my fear, my sadness, my immense concern. Reeling over what to say next. His fear pained me the most. G was more concerned about our upset, thinking that he was in trouble and not that his search yielded results that were inappropriate for him, his age. I reached out to him to tell him we are only concerned, we are not mad; we asked him what he was feeling, what he was thinking. At that moment he is what mattered, his experience, and how we explain the experience in an intelligent, objective manner.
I hunched over my sink as I continued to fight any urge to vomit and prayed. I prayed to God for wisdom, strength, clarity, on how to address our conversation with G. I prayed for understanding as to why my son was seeking out adult material on the internet. I prayed just to tell my Father of our experience and that I was so uncertain of what came next but that I trusted he had a plan.
The Chad and I ducked into our room with G to talk about the events. I wasn’t prepared for this. The Chad wasn’t ready for this.
We started off with the basics. Anatomy. In order for him to understand the gravity of the information we were about to share with him he needed to be able to hear the science. He is a science kid, we knew he would get the science. I’m rambling, much like I was that day…at moments.
After we covered anatomy we discussed the mechanics of how the anatomy operates. We paused and asked him if he had questions, we knew he was soaking in all we were telling him like a sponge. We continued down Alice’s rabbit hole as we tripped along, maintaining our diplomacy.
G explained to us that he had urges, thoughts, he was curious. Curious about what exactly. “Undressed women” he said. Composing my laughter was a struggle so I maintained a stone face at his proper choice of words in his answer. Digging more into this we found he was curious about the opposite sex, nude, as boys would be, the desire and curiosity were natural. His comfort level began to increase and he detailed how, while inappropriate for his age, he was curious and interested in “naked ladies.” So much of me was relieved at his naivety and sweetness. I appreciated his candor, his honesty, his ability to speak boldly to us at a time where we felt uneasy, knowing he was uneasy.
Explaining sex to a young boy, I thought might be easier. What was easy was explaining how none of this was wrong. His feelings weren’t wrong. His urges weren’t wrong. His curiosity wasn’t, isn’t wrong. Sex is not wrong. False expectations is wrong. False hopes, those are wrong. The expectation that sex is perfect the first time is wrong. We wanted him to be prepared for reality.
Discussing sexual intercourse with my son was not a highlight for our weekend. Discussing pornography was not what I thought would be the catalyst for our conversation into sexual intercourse. Having this discussion with my [too young] son was not what I was prepared for as a parent. I knew the day would come but I was hopeful, fairy tale hopeful, I had more time. As The Chad and I talked to him about everything we finally got into the details of what led us to this conversation. Our assumptions were that he was seeking pornography at some level, our assumptions were awful, maybe a coping mechanism. When G began to unravel the details and we were more level headed we were greeted with relief.
Comedic relief came when we digressed a bit from the topic of his searches. Pausing to allow him to ask questions, the most memorable question arose and still makes me laugh is, “why does it pop up?” As adults, we automatically go dark on our humor, but his question was in relation to pop up advertisements when he improperly clicked during his search.
My heart swelled with love and joy for his innocence and grasping for understanding at this strange new world I wish he had not yet been exposed. While at that moment I wasn’t ready to be a parent with the sobering experience of detailing sexual intercourse and the entrails that accompany, I thanked God for my son. I felt blessed in that moment that he still had some innocence, that he had such an amazing spirit and outlook. He asked questions, listened with intent. Most of all, I was [am] grateful he had both of his parents to discuss such a difficult, intimate, and sometimes precarious conversation. We both spoke to him with love, facts, and understanding of sex from each of our points of view as a man and a woman. We precluded assumptions, expectations, falsities. His father and I reassured him that there is no shame and he could continue to be open with us as he evolves and matures during this difficult time in life where everything seems to be spiraling out of control. When we felt life as a parent was spiraling out of control.