The Most Wonderful Beautiful Miraculous Thing in the World

by Brian on January 28, 2008

in A Parent in Israel

Aviv had been anxiously awaiting the big day for months now. On his eighth birthday, he knew, he would get to go out with his Imma and Abba for a private dinner where he’d hear about “the most wonderful, beautiful, miraculous thing in the world.”

“But what is it?” Aviv would ask my wife Jody or me at regular occasions in the months leading up to his birthday. His big brother and sister just smiled knowingly. They’d already been let in on the secret.

You see, in the Blum household, age eight is when we first talk to the kids about sex.

Many of you probably think eight is too young, but in our experience it is about the time when the other kids in school start talking about “it.”  In fact, it was just a few weeks after The Talk with Merav, then 12, that her friends started up with their own stories.

We wanted our kids to hear about sex from us first, in a positive loving context, not from some boy or girl in school who would inevitably spin the subject as “dirty” or “gross,” employing only partial and most probably incorrect information.

We also hoped that this approach would establish open communication about a subject that can so often be cloaked in discomfort and embarrassment.  So far, that has been the result with our older kids.

Picking where to take Aviv out to eat was perhaps the hardest part of the whole process. We wanted it to be nice – this was a special evening, after all — but it also needed to allow us some privacy.  Aviv’s choice, the now defunct Pizza Meter – a South American-style restaurant in our neighborhood that was painted entirely in burnt orange and played loud and lively Brazilian salsa music – wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for a quiet, serious discussion. But it was Aviv’s birthday. So Pizza Meter it was.

We started off by talking about how much we love Aviv and how proud we are of all his accomplishments – pretty generic stuff, but it set the tone. A 10 percent a week bump in his allowance helped put him in a good mood.

Then we turned to the juicy stuff.

“Now, you know that your parents love each other very much, right Aviv,” Jody began.

Aviv smiled innocently. He had absolutely no idea where this was leading.

“And also that we’re very attracted to each other.”

“What does ‘attracted’ mean?” he asked.

“It means I think your mother is very beautiful, the most beautiful woman in the world, and I like to be with her. I like to kiss her and stuff,” I said.

“And I think your father is the most handsome man in the world,” Jody said.

At this point, our pizza arrived and we took a short break to chow down. We had ordered a dish that sounded appropriate for the evening: the “Cha-Cha-Cha” pizza.

After we had filled our tummies a bit, we launched into what happens after kissing.  We then proceeded to tell him exactly how babies are made.

Aviv’s face registered a priceless mix of shock and subtle satisfaction at suddenly being admitted to such an exclusive club of knowledge; at discovering that there was something new about his body that he had been clueless about just moments before.

I felt a similar mash-up of emotions: at once proud of our proactive stance, and at the same time more than a little bit sad that, however well thought out our intentions were, his precious innocence necessarily had to end here and now between slices of Cha-Cha- Cha.

As we continued our discussion, we talked about how sex should only be between two people who care deeply about and are committed to each other. We emphasized that sex is an expression of love and that, by the way, it feels really good.

“How good?” Aviv asked.

“Well, it’s like getting the best massage in the world,” I ventured a stab.

Aviv looked skeptical. “You know I don’t like massages,” he said.

Now, if you’re expecting me to kiss and tell you all the technical details of how we explained the mechanics of sex, I’m sorry I’ll have to disappoint you. We’re still PG-rated around here.

Suffice it to say that Aviv’s ears perked up a few times more when he was presented with various new pieces of information that seemed illogical to his eight-year-old mind. We checked in with him regularly on whether he had any questions. In general, it looked like he’d absorbed it all. How well he’d gotten the message, only time would tell.

As we paid the bill and headed home, I was satisfied that things had gone well. But I also realized that we had gotten one thing wrong. There’s something else that’s really the most wonderful, beautiful, miraculous thing in the world.

Being a parent.

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