So - I had the opportunity to talk about my experience as a queer mama as part of a panel presentation to a group of at-risk youth the other day. And it was pretty great. The youth were, you know, youth-like. Mostly pretending not to listen, but clearly listening nonetheless. It made me remember how much I loved working with young folk back in the day, and how bloody cool teenagers really are when you give them some space, and more importantly, some credit.
Anyhow - it got me thinking about how people are always so negative about teenagers, and how frequently I hear parents lamenting about the horrors of the teenage years. Some of that is about the sullen, moody, figuring-stuff-out part of teen-dom. True -it's a pretty hormonal time (if memory serves!). Some of it is parental angst (understandable) about kids moving away and beginning the difficult separation process.
But in particular, the dating and sexuality stuff seems to be the parental voodoo doll. Perfectly sensible people lose their shit at the thought of their kids growing up and doing the nasty. In fact, the fear-mongering about kids and sexuality starts so early that since the birth of Boy-o, and then later Girlio, people (many people) said (and continue to say) things to me like: "you're going to have to beat them off with a stick" and other similarly odd things. And I kinda don't get it for a few reasons, not the least of which is that that's sort of an odd thing to say about babies and small children.
But also because I recognize that my kids have rights to be sexual beings, who are, eventually, going to have sex with other people. Whoa. I know right?! Moreover - and some folks will probably want to shit all over me for this bit - I actually want my kids to have sex at some point. Good sex. NO - not now. They're two and four years old. But -a life in the monastery/convent isn't really what I imagined for either of my tots. I want them to have sex when they decide they're ready, and when they are sure of what ready means to them... and neither of those things are up to me.
The part that IS up to me, is teaching them to love themselves, respect themselves, trust their guts and their instincts and their hearts. Teaching them that they have a right to pleasure on their own terms and in their own time. That they, and their bodies are perfect and deserving of love and autonomy and safety. And whether they choose to take that leap at 14 or 16 or 19 or 25 - I hope with everything I've got that they will make choices with their bodies and hearts and minds that feel good and right to them. (And, of course, I hope they'll make better choices than I did - but again - not up to me ;)
I'm not saying I won't worry. Or kvetch. Or wait up at night worried sick. I totally, totally will. Doubtless. If someone tries to make my kids have sex before they want to or they're ready, I will curbstomp them into smithereens, utterly remorseless. No two ways about that. I'm pretty effing fierce when it comes to my littles.
But sex is part of life. A good, good, fun part of life. And I'd like my kids to get to live in all the good, good, fun ways that they possibly can.
(So unless they ask or need me to, I don't think I'll be beating anyone off with a stick.)
And I still think teenagers are cool.