For all the debate about sex ed in schools, you can easily make the case that we're failing miserably. I'm not talking about awareness of what is happening to their bodies, awareness of birth control or abstinence programs. STD's can no doubt have lethal consequences. You know what else can have lethal consequences? A hormonal woman with a meat tenderizer is a menace to society. Does anyone ever sit with our sons and explain warning signals, how to plan, and how to avoid stepping in to the shark-infested waters of PMS altercations? NO. Our schools are failing our sons.
Sex ed gives the nitty gritty of what part goes where, and the Cliff's Notes version of what's happening to them. Male readers, don't get that "OMG this is another PMS post" look. It's so much more. Don't you wish your own parents had given you a better grip at the insanity that may grip the women in your life every four weeks? This is why I, mother of the year, have launched the "Scared Straight" school of boy-parenting. My sons will be the most sensitive, empathetic men when I am done. Do you know how many girls they can score if they leverage that?
I seize teaching moments as they come. Some of life's best lessons come from adversity. Stress, tension, and pressure separate the men from the boys. Bloating- well that separates the women from the girls. Add them all together, and you have the perfect cocktail for mother-son chats that will leave their impression, and emotional scars albeit, for life. Just as they show kids wrecked cars to show what speeding does, I, occasionally, display for my sons a glimpse of what a woman they've enraged looks like. They need to know, so they desire avoiding it at all costs. They need to learn to catch the warning signs before it's too late.
Take our ill-timed dinner one night, when Son1 decided a full on bitchfest about salmon was in order. He didn't know that I was wiped from crashing hormones and 'round the clock pain meds. He didn't catch the contorting face as I tried and tried to not lose it. I had not yet passed on the knowledge to my little Grasshopper at that point. It was nearly too late for his safety.
Son1 learned a valuable interpersonal lesson that night: Be on the look out for an Advil logo or ThermaCare wrapper prior to expressing displeasure. Kids recognize logos at a young age, so I recommend referencing those visual aids for boys. What started as, "Honey, eat the fish," moved at rapid pace to, "just eat your fish," and then, "I said just eat it!" More or less. Because what really flamed out of my mouth after twenty nerve wracking minutes was, "You better shut your mouth and LEARN that there are be three-four days of MY month, your girlfriend's month, your wife's month where you just keep your F'ing mouth shut and eat the goddamn salmon!!!" I should probably confess here that the boy was just 7. But, he was a 7 year old choking down salmon after that. He learned that speaking when you should not has consequences. Experiential learning had taken hold. He still gets a little jumpy any night I make salmon. So does the hubs, truth be told.
Son2's early intro into the world of estrogen mayhem came when he was about 6 and not feeling well. I was awake in his bed while trying to get him to sleep after an upset stomach. It wasn't hard to keep awake though due to my hormonal insomnia. At one point, when the poor boy whimpered his belly hurt, riddled with exhaustion and a cramp myself I half sobbed, "I know... it's just no good to have such an achy tummy is it? Mommy too. I wish we could sleep." cry, cry. Is there anything worse than turning your child's moment of need into something all about you? By some fluke, though, this worked well on two fronts: his comfort and his learning. It seemed to divert his attention from his own bellyache, so he was able to drift off to sleep. Just prior, he suggested I cuddle up on his polar bear, which actually was quite comforting. No wonder he loves Cubby. A few months later when I was in a similar cramp and mood turn, he noticed, and went and brought me the Cubster. He saw the signs, tried to comfort, and brought me cozy things. I am raising primo boyfriend material.
A more stable mom would be concerned to see Son2 (now 10) back pedal out of the room on tip toes when he sees my microwavable heating pad. BUT he does so after sweetly asking if I'd like it heated up. Ladies, would you not love for your guy to thoughtfully offer that, and then more thoughtfully leave you in unabated silence? They'll be good husbands one day, maybe even great hostage negotiators.
Having covered the first lessons on hormonal-emotional awareness at tender ages, I have gone on to increase their knowledge and weave it into the emerging knowledge of body parts they are gaining. Every parent frets "the talk," even though we're told it should be a long conversation, over a span of time. Sometimes, difficult things get blurted out in a split second. Like ripping off a band aid, the pain is condensed into a split second. While not planned (and most assuredly ill-advised), that's kind of what happened with Son1's instruction of the female reproductive cycle.
In my defense, I was suffering what I would call extenuating circumstances. If you read my post about bedtime shenanigans, you know that the boys found a new box of my "feminine products" and decided to do make some craft project/ bunk bed repelling device. Fast forward 10 days after that artistic endeavor, when the time had come for those products. Only I forgot to replace them after my little McGyvers' creative burst. So it was 9:30 at night and as I was greeted by a "surprise," I recalled the empty inventory, and did what any well-educated, 40 year woman in hormonal throws would do. I cried. I yelled. I remembered the whole sordid "Always-with-wings-bunk-rope-affair," and I went over the edge.
I was just a teensie-weensie unhinged. That was the night that Son1 (now a steely 12) learned via a combination of scientific and long-shoreman terms what kind of a bind he had left me in. What started with, "Well you know women have babies, and where the babies come from, right?" moved headlong in to, "well, a woman's body is ready each and every month to make a baby, but it usually doesn't happen, and the body can't just sit there piling up all these things, so..." And away I went. I sailed headlong into, "can you imagine what it feels like when every muscle in your gut is working to get ready to clean up the party that never happened? Then picture having a brain freeze headache and crappy sleep for three nights?!?!" The hubs was horrified. Oddly, Son1's counselor let out a hearty laugh when I relayed it. He either thought it was really funny, or was picturing the 6,500 sq foot shore house he'd get with the future billings.
When the tempest had passed, Son1 would have crawled under a rock or biked to Walgreen's if he could. But he would have done so with a clear understanding of the female reproductive cycle. And my frustration that as a mother via adoption the whole fiasco which will span 30+ years of my life is all for naught. See the way I combined the biology lesson with the emotional tack on? Effortless. They should pay me to write text books. As they have grown, and their minds begun to mature, the lessons have become increasingly age appropriate. By that I mean I've managed to exceed the appropriate level by about two decades at a clip. I should use fewer F-bombs I know, but these teaching moments boast a realism few sex ed classes can ever hold. So one day, when Sons1 and 2 have schmoozed their way into the hearts of lucky young ladies, I am confident they will have taken the lessons of their youth to heart. They'll stock chocolate, be ready with a hug, not judge emotional tsunamis, and most importantly never, ever, ever say the death-spiral phrase "What's the problem, is it that time or something?" Like I said, primo boyfriend material.