Last night my ten year old daughter came into my room to say good-night to me, and she initiated a conversation about some new and enlightening things she learned at school that day.
Although I ask her every day how school went and what fun things happened, she often waits until right before bed to share the juicier, more dramatic details, which pretty much guarantees I won’t be sleeping through the night, because I’ll be having nightmares about how she’s growing up too fast.
The conversation went like this:
Bryn: Oh my gosh, Mom! I forgot to tell you what I learned at school today!
Me: What was that?
Bryn: Well, during recess, my friends and I were talking, and you’re never going to believe this! My friend said that there’s this thing called French kissing, and that means that two people kiss with their tongues! Like lizards, Mom! They wrap their tongues together like lizards! And guess what?! It’s true!! People really do that!
Me: (starting to sweat)
Bryn: And guess what else! In France, there are beaches where people don’t wear their clothes! They go to the beach naked, Mom!!! Can you believe that? (she dissolves into hysterical giggles and laughter) Have you ever heard of these things?
Me: (sigh) Bryn, I promised you I would always be honest with you, so yes, I have heard of these things and they are all true. Except nude beaches aren’t limited to France. Many countries have beaches where clothing is optional. I also have to tell you that I’m not sure I’m ready for you to know about this stuff yet. I’m not ready for you to know about French kissing and nude beaches.
Bryn: I know, Mom. (she kisses me on the cheek to console me)
Me: What did you think when your friend told you about this stuff?
Bryn: I think French kissing sounds disgusting! (she makes a sour face, a gagging noise and then pretends like she is throwing up)
Me: (Laughing) That’s the right attitude, sister! (she laughs with me and leaves the room)
I realize this is just the beginning. She will continue to grow up and discover new and exciting, and sometimes gross things about life, and people and relationships. Soon, in her health education classes, she will learn about sex and reproduction and how her body works. She will also learn about boys, and it won’t matter that I want to freeze time and keep her my little girl forever.
I also realize that this means raising children is going to turn me into an alcoholic, and I need to join a wine club so I can stock the house and get a discount on that shit, because I’m going to need a lot of it.