My childhood was a little peculiar, I was raised by my widowed Grandmother, who was already sixty years old by the time I was born. Even though my parents lived next door and I often saw them. Grandma took on the majority of the child-rearing responsibilities of my older sister and me.
The rare times my Grandmother dared broach the topic of sex, was only to warn us not to get knocked up. Although, I do remember another occasion when she told us about my Grandfather returning from WWII with a newly discovered penchant for oral sex. If you can imagine, this didn’t go over so well with my ultra-conservative Grandma. She unapologetically called it “dirty sex” and refused to have anything to do with it. My sister and I still laugh about that awkward little conversation with Grandma. I’ve often wondered since, how our poor Grandfather endured his probably near sexless, and most definitely passionless marriage.
So many laughable memories have recently come flooding back. Like the day in fourth grade, on the playground. When my friend Tori explained what sex “really” is. She used a pine cone and her hand to show to her captivated audience, how a penis penetrated a vagina. All of us, a group of 11-year-old girls, were mortified. I remember thinking, “Wouldn’t that be painful?” I simply refused to believe her.
Determined to prove her wrong, but with no adult, I felt comfortable asking, I smuggled the family’s Medical Encyclopedia off the shelf and hid it under my bed. This book ended up being the source of most of my sexual knowledge for the next few years. Later that night my worst fears were confirmed, Tori was mostly right. This new revelation terrified me and left me feeling even more uncertain about sex. (Sadly, it would be years later before I realized that a penis inserted into a vagina wasn’t the only “thing” that qualified as sex.)
The idea of talking to either my Grandmother or Mother about sex made me feel ill. I still remember how foreign the idea seemed to me then. There was no way for me to know, this was a normal discussion for a parent to have with their child. Today my mother is still unable to have a candid discussion about sex, masturbation, or orgasms. If I pursue a dialogue about anything related to sex with her, you can cut the tension with a knife. She gets very quiet, then in a strained voice quickly changes the subject. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, considering we were raised by the same sexually repressed woman. Yet, I find myself continuing to yearn for that missed connection with her. ☺︎