Yesterday I was carrying her in my arms, but today she’s nearly taller than me, and she just turned out 13. My daughter and I have a terrific relationship. We communicate greatly, and somehow I accomplished having an open approach with her. She counts on me and I am still her guide, but she’s building her own realm, drafting the declaration of independence, and shifting inexorably away from my kingdom. She’s simply growing up.
Kayla was born in Venezuela in 2008, and we lived there until she was seven. Then, we spent two years in Italy, and now it’s four years since we are living in Spain. Knowing about diverse cultures made her very mature. She’s knowledgeable and remarkably bright. She also has the gift of being particularly charming: golden-brown skin, big black eyes, and straight dark-brown hair. Tennis pro with a 5’8” athletic body makes the boys turn to look at her as she walks down the street.
The period is the right period
Some months ago she had her first period, and we realized things weren’t going to be the same again. We cherished it, but we perceived how from that moment she stopped being our little baby. It’s a bit of a shock for some parents. Her voice changed and she frequently talks back. She became moody and messy. Her major interests switched, and she started talking about boys with her friends.
Her mother fainted! She was caught off guard, in fact, she was considering it was too early yet, and someone had to do “the talk”. I stepped in with no hesitations or doubts. I was determined to do it, but I didn’t know how and when. Sometimes we don’t realize that something so natural and spontaneous like sex could represent an insurmountable wall. Preconception and prejudice about a taboo topic make it hard to deal with, but I’m the kind of guy who likes taking responsibilities on my back.
Find the right moment
There’s no need to rush, but if you hesitate too much, you’ll never meet the ideal opportunity. I approached my daughter in the car, back from the tennis practice on a winter day. I didn’t want to talk while driving because I needed eye contact, so I began talking when I parked our Fiat 500. There was background rock music, she was messaging friends, and I debuted with…
“I heard you have a boyfriend.”
You just had to look at her expression: she had her mobile between the two hands and she gawked at me, mute as a fish. I believe we have to control the smartphone activities of our kids, although I sense it as a privacy violation and I don’t like it, but I have to do it to protect her. From time to time I tell her to hand me the phone to check it, and I found out they usually chat on Whatsapp, but the “dirty talk” takes place on Instagram private messaging. I discovered there a proposal from a boy of her age.
“Do you want to be my girlfriend?”, he wrote.
“I don’t know”, she answered.
He mocked her, and she insulted him back, followed by smiles. So romantic! Can I assume that’s how new generations get engaged these days? Heroes by David Bowie echoed in the car while she was still staring at me silently, and I told her I knew more than she thought. Grinning like a know-it-all, I pronounced the name of the guy, that he plays soccer in that particular club, and I provided a broad physical description which left her with the mouth wide open.
She asked, “How do you know that?”. I answered every father must be aware of certain matters if they love their children. “That’s why we are here: to watch after you. To be able to protect you, we also need to discuss sex issues. I’m informed that you talked about it at school, and I sense you communicate about it with your friends, but I’m going to tell you something that nobody will ever explain to you.”
She was still holding her mobile between the two hands, while her friend’s messages kept coming in. She sealed her mouth and swallowed saliva. Her ears turned red and her eyes opened even wider, looking like a panic attack as if the car had caught fire. We were in a narrow street and it was only us, the music and the smell of chimneys. She lowered the car’s window and squeezed herself against the door, making me feel utterly uneasy. It was time to break the ice and let her know why the pieces of information I was about to unbosom were exclusive.
“I’m going to talk about sex from a man’s point of view.”
The internet is packed with essays regarding the dialogue with your daughter about mating, but they are mainly written by women for women (mothers). They mention diseases, pregnancy, feelings, love, the relationship with their vulva, and even how to encourage teens to practice with a dildo first.
Where are the articles to explain to your daughter what goes on through the mind of a fellow before/during/after sexual intercourse? What about how to prevent being used and abused? How to spot if your boyfriend is a boy-foe? Who describes the difference between having sex and making love, and that neither is bad?
“Mother Nature’s goal is to preserve herself through continuity. She devised a thousand ways to get it. Bees pollinate flowers, while for animals, she thought of making us desire the reproductive act. Sometimes the urge to do it is unstoppable, and if we didn’t have it, we would risk extinction.”
“You already know that the sexual act is consumed by introducing the penis into the vagina, and procreation happens when the sperm meets the egg, right?”. She said yes, and just saying a single word made her muscles loosen. Maybe she was still in apnea from before and she took a deep breath, so I continued. “It’s not only about the penetration, but it involves some movement too. If not, it could be difficult to ejaculate. There’s excitement and pleasure. There’s touching and kissing, and it is supposed to be a wonderful experience that you and he would want to repeat ASAP.”
At that moment my urge was to let her notice what could be the alarming scenarios, but I couldn’t address sex as a bad thing. What consciously concerns us most is early pregnancy or diseases. But unconsciously deep inside, as a parent, what I detested was that a stranger would touch my girl, or hurt her feelings. Those fears didn’t have to transpire from my speech, as I had to focus on maintaining a transparent liaison with her, and not fright her. But I am not only a man, I’m her father too, so…
“There are several men who only aim at satisfying their sex drive, and they don’t give a shit about you.” I know I was a bit harsh on this one, but I couldn’t hold it.
“It’s not easy to recognize who’s with you because he admires everything about you, and who’s with you only because he’s attracted to your figure. There is a tremendous difference between these two, since the former is hard to find, instead, of the second type there are far too many. The first accept your defects, while the latter exposes you in the window as a hunting prey. Always keep your head on your shoulders and never let anyone use you.”
“Being unique and invaluable, you deserve to be handled with care, you are too important to yourself.”
“Some men tend to consider their girlfriend to be their property. Be on the lookout for early signs of possessiveness and disrespect. Don’t be scared to end such a relationship right away. Don’t be afraid to hurt the feelings of someone who has no respect for you, even if you love him. Remember that you will never be able to straighten a branch born crooked.”
“The excitement when you are about to do it could be high, and you may be transported by the instant. Always make sure he’s got the condom because it will be easy to say no before starting. But when the process is ongoing, it will be virtually impossible to stop it. And one would say: oh well come on, what do you think would happen? Just for once!?”
“The madness of a moment can ruin your entire life, and he won’t stick it out right before the orgasm. Do you want me to buy you condoms and the pill? Do you expect you might do it anytime soon, or you did it already?”. If she had answered yes, my instinct would have ordered me to wipe her off the face of the Earth, and my reason would have instructed me to respond: “good, sex is not something to be ashamed of. How was it?”.
Sweet little thirteen
Fortunately, I heard what I preferred to hear, “Dad, I’m only thirteen”. I exhaled.
“I assume it’s too early too, and if it depends on me, I would suggest that you wait around the age of sixteen, but you cannot predict when it is going to come. Just don’t rush it. Girls tend to fall in love with the first assho… err, ‘guy’ who takes their virginity, and it will inevitably happen to you, so I would choose wisely”.
“I won’t fall in love,” she said.
“You will”, I replied.
She asked me when was my first time. I answered it happened at her age with an older and experienced girl. She smirked at me and stated. “Aren’t you afraid of telling me that? I might feel entitled to do it anytime soon then!”. I responded, “I am not scared at all because you are wise and I trust you wholly. See, the question is not sex at all. I’m anxious about early pregnancy or you catching a disease, and I’m somehow frightened you fall in love with the wrong guy, or that someone harms you. I also fear that you will encounter complications during your life and will not have the courage to speak up and ask for help from the person who would do anything for you, and that would be me.”
“Sex benefits are thousands, meanwhile the disadvantages are just a few, and I’m trying to list them. Everybody loves making love, and you’ll love it too. I wanted to talk about it because you need to know you can always count on me. You will make mistakes, we all did, but it won’t change my feelings for you. Your parents will never turn their backs on you. Whenever you call for advice, I’ll be pleased to offer you my objective opinion.”
She raised her thumb and smiled. At that stage, she was completely relaxed and did not hesitate to ask questions.
“Have you ever done it just to satisfy your sexual desires?” Yes.
“Have you ever lied to a woman?” Yes.
“Have you ever cheated on a girlfriend?” Yes.
“Dad, you’re an awful person!”
I replied, “It all went on when I was a teenager and it is not as bad as it seems. We all make mistakes and the same things happened to me. When you are inexperienced and just discover sexuality, you probably don’t care much. In the process of uncovering your sensuality, a new world opens its doors and you will enter to explore it. You’ll try different routes and, at first, it’s even entertaining and exciting to have a few boyfriends. With your friends, you will laugh about it and you’ll have fun frolicking and mocking the boys. You will feel somewhat influential by noticing how these guys fall at your feet, it’s the power of the pussy, but then, they (the males) will think the same about you.”
“After a while, you’ll get jaded by all that fuss and you will start looking for the right one because, in the end, it is more satisfying to feel loved than to make fun of others. That will be the moment when you have completed the exploration, you will have known yourself more and you’ll know with conviction what you’re looking for. Be aware that society is not fair though. If a girl frequently changes mates, people consider her to be a slut, but if a man goes with many girls, he is considered a Casanova.”
“It makes no sense, does it?” She asked.
“That’s society. You shouldn’t pay attention to what other individuals think. Don’t be scared of dumping a boyfriend for another guy. I don’t believe it’s a good thing to be promiscuous, but you must be really lucky to meet the perfect partner on the first attempt. It doesn’t happen often.”
Like a virgin
“Have you ever done it with a virgin?”
I said, “Twice, but then I avoided them because they become possessive, and they won’t leave you alone. I had a girlfriend, she was a dancer, and we made love after a few months of dating. Suddenly, she didn’t want to dance anymore. Her school performance dropped significantly, and her parents confronted me. I tried to talk to her but she wouldn’t listen, so I warned her I would interrupt our relationship and she became obsessed. I dumped her, and from that point, she turned into my enemy. She talked at my back with all my friends and she devoted the following months to destroy me.”
“No virgins then?”, she asked me.
I answered, “Never again”.
“What do you feel when you… I mean… when you put it inside?”.
“It’s an ecstatic feeling hard to describe. Your head spins, and you experience sensations that are unique to that moment, but it is your partner who really makes the difference. Hence the distinction between making love and having sex. Having straightforward sex is the fulfillment of a physical need while making love means two bodies becoming one with the person you adore.”
“Is it the same for a girl?”.
“In all probability, but I can tell you that the excitement can cause you to lose your head even before the act, and it can lead to making mistakes. You must not neglect rational thinking, thus you’ll avoid getting carried away by the moment.”
There are many pregnant young girls around and she sees them. My advice was to imagine herself with and without an early baby. She said she doesn’t want to have kids at all, but I replied that there’s a stage in the women’s lives that they’ll feel something is missing. That’s Mother Nature forcing you to want to procreate. If she’s busy trying to achieve her goals, like tennis, perhaps she won’t perceive that call strongly. But if she puts away her life for a man, she’ll surely get caught.
All men are (not) the same
“You are responsible for your own destiny. What do you want from life?” I asked her.
She answered, “I wish to make it as a tennis pro.”
I replied, “Do you realize you must do a substantial amount of sacrifices to achieve that? There are millions of kids playing tennis nowadays, and the major deterrent to reaching higher levels are friends, boyfriends, and determination. You may fall for an asshole who might even mistreat you, or you set the rules and let a boyfriend adapt to your agenda. If he genuinely cares for you, he’ll be supportive. If not, gently grab his arm and send him to go bug someone else. Can you imagine your buddies ten years from now? Some will get married, some will disappear, some will go to the university. Do you see yourself at home with a baby?”
She smiled. “Dad, it will never happen. I can’t stand babies.” — “And I don’t want grandchildren.”
“What attracted you about my mother?” — “She’s the most honest person in the world.”
“Did you plan having me?” — “Yes, but if I had known first what would come of it, I would have thought twice about it.”
“Aren’t you happy about me?” — “I love you deeply, but, who just said that doesn’t like children? You’ll always be my baby, and you’ll give me headaches even when you’re forty. Now, I wouldn’t know what to do without you, but I swapped my life for yours.”
“What if I like women?” — “You know I judge the person, not their sexual orientation, religious belief or color of the skin.”
“Do you and mum often make love?” — “I can’t remember!”
“Have you ever cheated on her?” — “Unfortunately not!”
“Did you like her physically?” — “I saw her ass before seeing her face.”
“So you just liked her butt!” — “First comes the physical attraction, then you get to know the person, then after twenty years of marriage you realize you are a jerk.”
She couldn’t stop laughing.
What started with a certain tension concluded in complete relaxation. I know I would have to refresh those conversations from time to time, and I guess I attained the principal goal. More than an actual dialogue about sex, I was more inclined to establish a bond between the two of us. Being able to make her understand my open-mindedness on that issue, and how important it is to have the ability to speak openly with those who truly love her, were the factors that really mattered.