The Birds and The Bees and the 8-year old Boy

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And so it begins.  Less than a week ago, my 8 year old son caught my wife and I laying in bed naked because one of us forgot to lock the door. This isn’t the first time he’s accidentally caught us naked, but this is the first time he saw something new.  My wife was holding my manhood in her hand, but that wasn’t what caught me by surprise.  What surprised me was how his reaction has changed.  In the past, when he caught us naked, he had no reaction; as if everything was normal and would just continue talking about whatever had drawn him to us in the first place, but this time, he looked at me, looked at my wife, and turned around quickly and spoke with his back to us.

My first reaction was… WOW! He’s finally learning to be a man, something that I have been working on since I became his father.  My next reaction was more like, “Oh God, he’s becoming a man,” and honestly, as much as I promoted the idea of teaching him about sex because I knew he was getting to the age of curiosity, this was a giant wake-up call that we didn’t catch him before his curiosity started, and if we don’t start teaching him now, he’ll learn the wrong way. I had talked to my wife about it before and her response has always been that she thinks he’s too young.  While this may be a typical ‘Mom‘ response, I was an 8 year old boy. At that age, another child my age presented to me pictures from playboy magazine, and I had a babysitter give me a very “hands-on” presentation.

I didn’t know, at first, that he needed the talk, but a few days later, all became clear.  He was recently grounded for spreading some lies on Facebook, and drawing some very violent pictures there.  He’s a natural artist and draws in a notebook all the time.  He left his notebook in our bedroom one time, so I started looking through the pictures.  What I found was that, the pictures he’s drawing are becoming more and more anatomically correct. The male figures he draws all include the representation of a bulge in their pants; the females he had drawn were all gender-neutral except for one.  One of the women he drew had two circles where the breast should be, and the picture was showing the girl holding them.  This brought me flashbacks of my childhood where if you wanted to draw boobs, I would draw two circles next to each other, and a circle on the inside… the nipple.  Well, this made it clear: my 8 year old step-son has growing curiosity about girls and a small concept of sexuality, but no real knowledge.

I talked to my wife and after showing her the pictures our step-son had drawn, she finally agreed that it was time to talk to him.  She tried to hide it but I think she was delighted that I was being a real father to my step-son, because she only sees us when we disagree and she doesn’t see that I’ve built his love and respect. I’m his step father; I don’t need to be his friend, and she doesn’t realize that when I’m strict with him, and he’s crying because he’s not getting what he wants at that moment, he’s getting what he really wants and needs. He is getting limitations.  Providing limitations to his behavior has been what has helped him become more confident, and what has built a real father-to-son relationship between us.

In our first conversation about the birds and the bees, I think I learned more than my step-son did.  The conversation was scheduled to last about 30 minutes, which I felt would be enough time for me to teach him everything he needs to know at his age. What really happened is the conversation only lasted 3 minutes before I lost his attention, and all he wanted to do was play on the computer.  The lesson was simple: I asked him if he knew the difference between girls and boys, and he said yes. I asked him if he knew what was going to happen to him as he got older, and that is where the puzzled look in his face started.  I told him that boys and girls are different, and that as he grows, he is going to change. I also informed him that he will grow hair on his penis and face.  These, I feel, are the most important things for an 8 year old to learn. An 8-year old child is just starting  to establish their identity and hair seems to be one place where boys really identify their manhood.  I also explained to him why he can’t continue running around without pants or underwear in front of girls.  That was the hardest thing to teach because I don’t believe in it myself. We were born naked; it is our natural state.  I’m a nudist at heart and I don’t believe there is anything wrong with being naked in front of other people. I luckily had a stroke of genius on the subject.  Whenever we’re watching TV with our step-son, he gets very upset when there is a kissing scene. He covers his eyes, and starts complaining.  When I connected this to how many people react when they see someone walking down the street naked, I realized I had my answer.  I told my step-son that just like he doesn’t want to watch people kissing, other people don’t want to see him naked.  I suppose that is the only truth in the issue. The reason he can’t be in front of other people naked is simply because some people would be uncomfortable because of it.  I also told him there are some bad people in the world who may hurt him if they see him naked. He understood that because of how upset he gets when people kiss. So why did I learn more than he did? I learned that my step-son has a very short attention-span. After our 3-minute conversation, he was done talking, and just wanted to play on the computer.  I accepted that its better for these talks to be a good experience for him, so I ended our conversation, and made plans to break up the lesson to 10 three-minute sessions.

After the talk, he immediately went to his mother. I think he was a little bit confused about the conversation because I had to tell him in English and Ilonggo is his first language.  I had my wife re-instate the facts I had given him in Ilonggo so he wouldn’t be confused.  The confusion was gone, but he was very surprised that his mother was behind this. He knows his mother doesn’t want him to grow up.

Today was the second conversation, and should be the last one required for a few years. He was very patient and survived 15 minutes.  I started the conversation with the fact that we were going to talk more about the difference between boys and girls.  I opened up the computer to images.google.com which is a search engine for pictures. My step-son immediately typed the word ‘naked‘ and clicked search. I was shocked! It was obvious this wasn’t his first search for naked pictures! I informed him that before looking at those pictures there were some other things I wanted him to see. I opened up two tabs on the web browser. On the first one, I did a search for ‘female anatomy‘. I could see the curiosity in his eyes. I simply pointed out that the women do not have a penis, and that men do not have breast. I shied away from telling him where the penis goes, because I don’t want to be the catalyst for him to begin playing doctor. I then did a search in another window for ‘male anatomy‘. I pointed out how small the connection between the balls and the body is, and that is why he must be very careful not to hurt them because they get hurt easily. He associated it with eggs, and I agreed; I told him they break easily. After that, I let him know when he gets older, another ‘water’ would come out of his penis other than pee, and that it has sperm in it. I did a search for sperm and explained to him that the pictures were bigger, that sperm are actually so small you can’t see them.  I then showed him a picture of sperm attacking an egg. He asked if they were going home. Hmm… I hope he doesn’t believe that because he’ll have lots of trouble if he tries to send all of his sperm home.  I told him that if any of the sperm get inside the egg, it will turn into a baby.

The important part of the conversation was covered, now I just had to embrace his boyish curiosity. He has a glimpse of his body, and sexuality, now I would let him see the naked women that he wants to see. I looked up naked women, pointed out the breasts, and told him not to touch them because the women will get mad. I did a search for hairy pussy, and showed him that girls also grow hair like he will. I finished our conversation with a search for hairy dick, so he could see what his penis will look like when he gets older. At that point, I think his curiosity was solved. I could tell he wasn’t interested in seeing anything else. I asked him if he had any questions, he said no, and I told him that he could go play on his games.

I must say the internet has made the ‘birds and the bees‘ talk much easier.  I know that showing actual naked pictures isn’t normal for these talks, but I remember when I was a child, I wished my father had shown me some real pictures.  One of the things which develops your sexuality is seeing what a woman looks like naked. I learned this in an embarrassing way when a friend of mine was showing me pictures and I didn’t even really know what I was looking at. I didn’t even know it was real which made me look stupid.  While many people may disapprove of the way I taught him, the reality is that if he wants to see naked women, than he’ll find a way, so its better to expose him to it in a controlled environment than leave open the possibility for trouble.

I’m very happy the talk is over. I don’t think I told him too much, but I do worry that he may not know enough. I emphasized not being naked in front of other people, not touching girls, and emphasized that all women have a naked body, as do all men. I also told my wife everything about the conversation and requested that she re-enforce that he shouldn’t touch girls and that all girls have a naked body.  I just want to take the curiosity away so he is less likely to do something stupid. The next conversations will hopefully be when he’s nearing puberty where we can talk about sexual responsibility but at this point, I think all he needs to know is the difference between boys and girls, what changes he faces in the future, and how he should handle his own nakedness.

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Programming is my passion, and I am constantly working on making my mark in this industry by creating new technologies which open doors to new capabilities. While some of my projects are experimental, most of it is grounded in standard compliant design with a constant focus on security.

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