Honesty is the best
policy. Or so most of us get guilted into thinking sometime in our lives. But
just when you decide to have everything up front between you and your lover,
you eventually have to explain why the bike courier chick always has time for
coffee with you, especially when you seem to have so many things for rush
I thought honesty was a
good parenting policy when I started out as an eager-to-be-perfect mom. Kids
need to have their questions answered, right? Not to mention that it’s way more ridiculous to tell her I found her in a cabbage patch than
what really happens, especially since I don’t even know if cabbage is
grown in Canada.
So we’ve talked about love and we’ve talked about divorce.
We’ve talked about the tooth fairy, Santa Claus, the president of the
United States and the nasty premier of Ontario. We’ve talked about god,
goddesses, being queer, being straight and being in debt to Mastercard. But I
never dreamed that talking about sex would include going over the contents of
my sex toy box with her.
I never intended it that
way. But if you live your life openly, you have to expect that someone, even
your innocent little daughter, might one day point to something and say “What’s that?”
And so it was one spring
afternoon not long after her seventh birthday. Hanging over the edge of my bed,
which is also pretty much hers, she dragged a very plain looking shoe box out
from under and said, “Hey, what’s this?”
With her natural curiosity,
I was sure she would pull everything out and want a detailed explanation of it
all, right there. I hummed and hesitated (how do you start lying to someone you’ve never lied to?). Then I said “That’s mine and it’s private and I don’t want to show it to you
right now.” To which of course she said, “Why not?” Just as my mouth was drying up and my palms were sweating and my mind
was racing for some harmless fib, the doorbell rang.
It was a good friend,
someone my daughter likes immensely, just dropping by to see if we were home.
So for the moment the subject was dropped. Either the goddess of sex toys or
the goddess of honesty (I’m sure they’re not the same one) was watching over me that day.
But the unexpected visit
could only buy me time. The big down side to being honest is that when you say
you don’t want to talk about something it kind of sticks out.
My daughter asked me
about the box again, and was especially curious to know why I couldn’t just answer her questions like I usually did. So I harnessed up my
courage and told her that, okay, one day I would show her what was in it. I
intended to get to there before her and remove some of the things I preferred
not to explain. Not that I have a lot. I just wanted to avoid the silicon
penises in non-human colours, if I could.
But, bless her active
little brain, she kept bringing it up and, one day after a kid-free weekend, I
mistakenly thought that not everything had been put back. So I agreed to talk
to her. She pulled out the box, opened it up, and with a sinking heart I
realized that all was accounted for.
One of the interesting
things about having a child is that you never know how they’re going to see things. They don’t make the same
assumptions an adult would. Grabbing a dildo by its, er, shaft, she placed it
balls-side down on the carpet and said gleefully, “It’s a dog’s foot!”
Then she marched it
around the bedroom floor much in the way you’d expect a one-legged dog
to walk. I was caught between the sweet relief of not having to explain what it
really was and a huge reluctance to let her to go on thinking that I kept a
collection of rubber dog’s feet under my bed in a
Fortunately, she resolved
my dilemma. Mid doggie-step, she said “No it’s not, it’s a penis!” So then we had to talk
about how some girls might want to “pretend” to be boys sometimes, or “pretend” to have a penis. I thought we were over the worst when she pulled out
the harness. I explained it as a piece of “sexy” clothing. But she’s no dummy, especially
not since so many educational toys teach even little wee babies how to match
shapes to holes.
“I get it,” she said confidently as she shoved the hole
in the harness over the end of the dildo, “this goes in here.” It amazed me how easily she handled everything. She could work in a sex
Finally her curiosity was satisfied and we put everything away.
This hands-on part of her sex education was over, thank god.
Contrary to conservative
fears about sex education, she wasn’t immediately corrupted
by the information and didn’t go out the next day to
buy her own set. If anything, she’s been kind of helpful.
On Pride Day that year when the subject of sex toys inevitably came up, a
friend mentioned wanting to get a new one. My seven-year-old daughter overheard
the comment and stopped her sidewalk skipping long enough to say, “Well you should buy it at the fair.”
I couldn’t have made a better suggestion.
back to Visibly A Parent
you live your life openly you have to expect that someone, even your
innocent little daughter, might one day point to something and say