Thursday, November 5, 2009

Teaching boys about condoms

My son was home-schooled through high school. Not because of any problems but because he was miserable and bored.

I give you this background not for any political reason but so you understand that the logistical part of sex ed has been denied him.

Oh, we've talked about sex. Responsibility, pleasure, safety. He knows the score. (I hope.)

When my late bloomer announced that he was finally ready to date, however, I realized that, at some time in the foreseeable future, safe sex and condom use would no longer be relegated to the realm of academic discussion. And then I wondered: What if he was too shy to purchase them?

When my daughter was in high school, the health office had a bowlful of them that kids could nonchalantly walk beside and scoop up as needed.

What resources would my son have?

None. Just me.

So, I bought a box of them and brought them home and told him to pay attention. I proceeded to show him how to use one by slipping one over my fingers. (What can I say, we didn't have a banana in the house.)

He was, in a word, mortified.

He told me that I had scarred him for life.

He announced that he'd be in therapy for years to come.

And then, last night, in front of a friend and me, he told her all about it, laughing. It has become one of those things we share and tease each other about -- like we do about almost everything.

It seems my presentation is no longer mortifying and, because of it, he has no excuse not to be safe.

Sometimes, as a parent, you have to do something risky to get a kid's attention. Another discussion about safe sex wouldn't have had the same impact.

And I feel pretty good about this.


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