Monday, January 26, 2015

Modern Love is Automatic

The topic of sexuality came up again recently.  Whenever it does, I try not to flinch. These lively question and answer sessions tend to occur during the commercial breaks of TV sitcoms the boys and I like to watch on Wednesday nights.  Sassy language is bandied about in colorful, relaxed settings.  Casual references to pleasuring oneself  and "getting it on" spark energetic bursts of curiosity from my peri-pubescent sons.

"What does that mean, Mom?  When you masturbate?"

"Well, honey.  It's when you touch your body in a special way.  And it feels really good."

"Oh," Rory scratched the side of his head with his Spirograph pen.  I could smell the wood burning.  "I do that, you know."


"Yeah.  All the time."

Of course, I assumed he was thinking of very excellent hugs.  He is ten, after all.

"You do not."  Desmond vehemently disputed his young brother's innocent claims of self-love.  Having endured the torture of a fifth grade health class last year that covered some of this material at length, he seemed eager to set the record straight.

"Rory, you're not doing masturbation."

"Sure, I am.  When I'm in the shower, and I wash and stuff.  I do it, like, every night."

"That's disgusting, Bro."

"How do you know?  It's private."

"Well if it's so private, just shut up about it then.  I think I'm gonna be sick."

"That's not nice, Desmond.  Masturbation is a natural, beautiful thing.  But you're both right.  It is private.  So you should keep it to yourself."

One thing about my children that I find particularly satisfying is that, for the most part, they seem to be listening to what I have to say.  What a huge responsibility.  I try to give them all the details I can.  They're gonna need this information.  This is a modern world.

"Hey, Mom."

"Yes, honey."

"What does it mean to be a closeted homosexual?"

"Well, that's not a particularly nice thing to say, sweetheart.  Folks may suggest someone is hiding in the closet when that person isn't confident enough to reveal whether he or she likes boys or girls."

"Why does that matter?"

"It doesn't."

"Then how come other people care so much?"

"Because they're nosy."

"Because they're jerks," Desmond remarked.

"Why do closeted homosexuals have to hide?" Rory asked.

"They could be self-conscious or frightened.  They might not understand their own feelings.  They may be afraid of what their friends might say.  Some people can be very mean."

"Oh, yeah?  Well, I like both boys and girls."

I didn't actually see Desmond slap his hand across his own face, but I heard the sound it made.  And I heard him mumble, "Oh, God," under his breath.

"Knock it off, you." I warned.

Desmond is our resident robot, and as broad-minded as he can be in the fields of science and technology, he struggles when processing emotional issues.  This data did not compute.

"You can't like boys and girls at the same time," he told his brother.  "You have to pick one style."

"Is that true, Mom?"

"No, babe.  You can like whoever you want."

"That means I'm bi-sexual, right?"

"I guess."

It makes perfect sense that if given a choice, Rory prefers access to many options. More just seems like a better idea.  He has a big, bold appetite for life.

"How about you, Des?  Guys or girls?"

Analytical by nature, Desmond is careful with his evaluations.  At twelve years of age, he currently stands right at the gate of adolescence, looking through the fence at all the confusion.  He's not in any hurry to enter the fray.

"I think I'm supposed to feel something, and I don't feel anything yet.  I'm not gonna make a decision until that happens."

He rubbed his eyes.  It looked as if he might have been getting upset, but the moment passed almost immediately.  Growing up is nuts, and he is logical.  That can't be an easy combination.

"It's okay if you're gay, you know," Rory replied.  "I'm still gonna love you.  And I'll definitely be in your wedding."

"And I promise to love you, even if you're straight," I added.

"I don't think I'm gay," Desmond responded thoughtfully.

"Fine, whatever.  I don't care."  Rory held up the piece of paper he was working on, so I could admire the design he'd created.

"It's nice," I said.


"You know, Bro," Desmond continued.  "You probably like girls more.  You're just too young to realize."

"No, I'm definitely bi-sexual," Rory insisted.  "I want it all."

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