The one where Bentley turns 11 and the Birds and the Bees arrive.

Eleven years ago today, the doctor looked at me and said, “He’s not going to come out on his own. Your birth canal is very narrow so we need to do a C-Section.”

The only place in my entire body that is narrow is my birth canal. That sounds about right.

Bentley safely made his way into the world, narrow canal be damned. He had a little trouble breathing at first and his right eyelid wouldn’t open all of the way, but he was here and he was ours.

Bentley is eleven years old today and I don’t like it. I’ll admit it. I’m one of those moms who doesn’t love the idea of her little boy growing up and yes, I realize how selfish that sounds. But turning eleven means that he is basically a pre-teen. Turning eleven means that he’s getting closer to driving and dating. Turing eleven means that it’s time to sit him down and talk to him about things like body odor and girls.

Bentley is a quiet, unassuming boy. I once mentioned to Derek that I doubted Bentley thought much about girls yet. Derek just grinned and said, “Honey, you know better than that.” And I do. I know that even though he is still just a little boy, he is already being exposed to lots of things that are beyond his chronological years. Sure, as parents we try to stay on top of and know about everything that his mind is ingesting, but let’s face it…we can’t be with our children all of the time and we don’t hear or see everything that our kids hear or see every second of every day.

Back when I was still teaching, I overheard a conversation between several of the 5th-grade boys in my class, the same grade Bentley is in now.

“You know Mountain Dew makes it hard,” one of the boys told the others. And by “it” he, of course, was referring to his penis.

Yeah, 5th-grade boys are the best. A constant source of amusement and amazement. As much as I wanted to correct them that day, I chose not to for lots of reasons. I imagined that most of them would go home, test their theory, and find out the truth on their own. No need for me to ruin it for them.

I can almost guarantee that Bentley is already learning about sex, including all sorts of crazy Mountain Dew type theories. At a young age, we are exposed to lots of information about boys and girls and sex. And then when you get older, if you’re lucky, you learn the truth.

My cousin was the one who taught me about the Birds and the Bees. She is four years older and even though we only saw each other every couple of months or so, she was like an older sister to me. I’ll never forget laying under the covers in our grandparent’s front bedroom, the sheets tucked under our heads, our knees propped up to make a tent, the glow of her Casio watch night light giving us just enough light to see. It was there that my cousin taught me the basics about sex and that I had no interest in any part of it.

My mom had already given me the “talk” (or her version of it anyway.) She bought a book about body change that was extremely vague and lacked essential details (granted, it was the early 1980’s.) On the pages where it showed a cartoon drawing of a naked boy, she used her hand to cover “it” up. And by “it” I mean his penis.

My mom wanted to teach me about sex, and she also didn’t want to teach me about sex. I don’t blame her. What parent actually wants to teach their children about sex? The older I got, my mom’s “talk” was reduced to the reverse of a Nike commercial: Just don’t do it.

It’s no different in 2013 than it was in 1983–if you don’t teach them the truth, someone else will. Will having the talk with Bentley be weird and strange and embarrassing? Yes. Will I make his father do most of the talking? Yes. And when together we read the book that we bought to share with him I’ll have to resist the urge to cover up the pictures.
Tonight we will eat cake and celebrate our sweet boy. And in the near future, his dad will plan a day for the two of them to go on a hike where eventually, when they reach the top of the mountain, they will sit for a water break and start the first of many talks to come.
And I will nervously sit at home wishing that he was three years old again.

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