Flickr photo by chrismearThis week in He Said/She Said I snagged Cary Fagan, a Strollerderby writer and sage for the "she" portion of the answer. Giving his two cents on today's hot sex topic is Mike Adamick, of Cry It Out: Memoirs of a stay-at-home dad, whose teeny girl who has already heard too much. I asked the pair:
What do you do if your child walks in on you having sex?
On the way to preschool the other day, my daughter, 3, suddenly stopped butchering a song from the Glee soundtrack and asked me to turn down the radio. Her eyebrows came together for a moment, as if she was working over a puzzle.
"Daddy?" she began, "Daddy, what was wrong with mommy?"
"Mommy," she continued, "Was she hurt?"
"Hurt? What are you talking about?"
"Last night," she said, "Mommy was screaming. Did she fall?"
"Did you give her a Band-Aid?"
"How?" my daughter asked.
"Well . . . she fell," I told her, having the good sense to leave out: "Onto something. Repeatedly."
But it struck me that soon enough she'd get wise and be able to trip out of bed, amble up the stairs and crack open our bedroom door. And then what would we do? Sex is perfectly natural and everyone does it and I'd hate for her to grow up and have any sort of hang up about responsible sex between loving partners, but at the same time, I don't want her to watch. So far, it hasn't happened. But after this conversation, the idea is haunting me: What, exactly, would we do or say?
"Ummmm ... go get the Band-Aids -- Mommy is hurt again"?
It depends on the age. If they’re tiny, I’m game for the old “mommy and daddy having a tickling contest” gambit. Cheesy, yes, but it works. Keep in mind that this can only go so far. Kids over four know from practical experience that traditional tickling contests are not clothing-optional. And at that age, they’ve already hit the entrance ramp to the scarred-for-life highway so you’ve got to be really, reallly careful.
If kiddies between five and twelve barge into the parental passion pit, the critical thing to remember is not to freak out and yell at them. Yeesh! Shrink bills shouldn’t have to be dealt with until at least the early 20s. Quickly cover up the naughty bits and calmly ask your tyke to leave the room so you can cool down and clad yourselves in more than a sweaty sheet. Then step outside and ask the tiny buzz-killer if he or she wants to know what was happening. If they do, tell them -- emphasizing the normal and loving aspects of sex. (Warning: This may be difficult if whips and chains are lying about.) And if they don’t want to know? Leave it alone because clearly they already do.
The thirteen and over set is easy. Horror and disgust will drive them to immediately run away from home, no questions asked. Problem solved.
What would you do if your kiddos caught you in the act?