The other night as I was making dinner and Isabella was doing homework, she casually said, “Mom, did you know that on YouTube they have videos of naked people having sex?”
Well that was not the conversation I was expecting to have on a random Monday night in March.
In my head I’m thinking, “Yes of course I know that! It’s called porn! There’s all kinds of porn out there.” Then I switch to, “Wait a minute, how do you know this? Did someone tell you? Have you seen it? What exactly did you see?” And from there, “What should I say? Do I acknowledge it? Do I brush it off? Is this a teaching moment or a funny ‘remember when Isabella brought up porn’ moment? “
Turns out that with kids, if you wait long enough, you don’t have to do anything and they’ll just keep going.
“Why would anyone want to see naked people having sex? That’s like so gross. I don’t even like to see you and Dad kissing.”
And there it is. The sweet innocence of youth. For her it’s not about political or societal taboos or what’s right and wrong or even an intrigue into something much older than her. To her it’s giggle worthy and on the same grossness level as puke or salad.
We’ve tried hard to keep our kids innocent for as long as possible (though we can’t plan for everything). They don’t watch violent movies or overly romantic shows. We don’t talk about very adult topics in front of them (little pitchers have big ears!). We even have a code word for sex – Cheetos [You know, if I want to hint to CJ that I’m in the mood, I’ll say, “Hey, want to have Cheetos later?” It’s worked pretty well. Neither one of them has caught on to the fact that sometimes mom and dad eat Cheetos in their room late at night after they’ve gone to bed].
Rabbit hole: at work we have many different systems and each of those systems has their own release schedule. They also all have their own release names. One team names their releases after Super Heroes. Another has gone with Pokemon characters. Yet another one was using natural disasters for a while until they realized how depressing it was to say “The Chernoble release is scheduled for next month”. Well, the manager of one of those systems sits next to me and their releases are named after comfort foods. So they had the Cheetos release a few months ago. I tell ya what, it was an interesting day for me when I heard her say on a call, “Yep, that one goes in Cheetos….Well Cheetos is on schedule right now but can be moved to later if need be….Let’s keep that in there because I’d rather go with Cheetos than Mashed Potatoes”.
Where was I? Oh yeah, protecting the innocence of our kids.
Isabella then added, “My friend at school told me about it. She watched it.”
It’s disturbing that a 9 year old has watched porn already. However, I remember being in grade school (6th grade maybe?) and finding my friend’s dad’s stash of Playboys. We were fascinated by both what was inside and also by the fact that we’d found something secret and forbidden. It was naughty in an exciting way. Back then, this kind of stuff wasn’t as readily accessible as it is today which made it that much more exhilerating.
Isabella then changed the subject and moved on. I was spared from having to really do much of anything. All I said was, “I don’t want you watching any of those videos so if you’re with a friend and they want to watch it, you need to say no and tell a parent.”
She nodded in a way that indicates that would be the only logical thing to do and continued about her homework.
Meanwhile I was left with a lot to think about. And suddenly with a craving for Cheetos.