I had a healthy interest in boys when I was in sixth grade. My mom couldn't help but notice.
"I need to talk to you," she said out of nowhere one day. "Go wait for me in the basement."
The basement? Why couldn't we talk right here? I could only assume that I was in trouble for something, but I had no idea what. My mom seemed nervous, which I was completely unaccustomed to. When she came downstairs, she had a magazine with her and went straight for the World Book Encyclopedia. Opening a volume, she handed it to me and pointed to a specific entry. I didn't really understand it, but apparently this menstruation meant that blood was gonna come flying out of me when I least suspected it. This happened to all women, apparently. I was shocked that something so gross had been going on around me my whole life - and I'd had no idea.
Next, my mom opened one of dad's Playboys to the naked lady I already knew was in the middle. Mom pointed to different parts of the lady, explaining to me that these were the things I could expect my body to do over the next few months, or maybe years. As a fat kid, I was pretty excited to think that I was about to turn into a Playboy centerfold. I was sure I'd wield incredible power over men.
For the record, I still don't look like a Playboy centerfold. According to my mom, this can only mean that despite my advanced age, I must not have gone through puberty yet. The point is that even if you already think you know a few things, The Talk can have widespread repercussions not just on a kid's future sex life, but on relationships in general, marriage, gender roles, and more. Here are some things I wish The Talk had included.
The BasesWe've all heard the baseball metaphor for sex. As far as I knew, there were three bases. The man tries to get to each bases as fast as he can, while the woman tries to stop him.
Yeah, that's what I actually thought.
No talk about the fact that the word "no" meant exactly that. Come to think of it, I wasn't sure how to go about deciding whether I was supposed to be saying yes or no. When I did start dating, I had a vague sense that the more I liked someone, the more bases I was supposed to let him get to.
Instead, it would have been nice to find out that any man who cares about your feelings won't run off and tell his buddies what base he'd gotten to. I also would have appreciated knowing that sometimes, boys wanted to have sex with girls (and do other stuff too) even if they didn't want to be their boyfriend. When I finally did find that out, I felt like a serious fool for not figuring it out sooner. (What do you wish you'd known about sex sooner? Read more in What I Would Tell My Younger Self About Sex.)
What Men Want"Men only want one thing."
My mom told me this outright, at an age when I wasn't entirely sure what that one thing was. Whatever it was, I was not supposed to let them have it. If I did, they'd be "done with me." Yeah, that's an incredibly bitter and sad outlook on relationships, and on men in general. I wish I'd known that dates aren't sports playoffs where winning is everything. My date was not my sexual enemy, nor would a nice man try to make me do things I didn't want to. Most importantly, I wish I'd known that all men are not the same in this regard - or in most other regards for that matter. Saying otherwise is essentially like saying there's no point in hoping for anything better.