What is sex?


What is  sex?

To backtrack just a little bit, about 1 month ago, I had taken little Paula for her 6 month check up and I was looking at somepamphlets in the Doctor’s office. The one about “Puberty for girls” was of particular interest, so I grabbed it. It said thatsome girls start their period as early as 8 years old. Liza just turned 7, and to imagine that in 1 year we could be talkingabout menses was a little unnerving. “Well,” I thought, “I can deal with that. The girls already have a clue what that is.” Thatpamphlet should have had some information on “How to talk to your 7 year old about sex”, because if I thought I wouldnot be ready to talk about menses in another year, I was definitely NOT ready to talk about sex right now.


This morning the girls and  I were in the van taking Mia home. She spent the night at our house last night. Liza was seated onthe front seat .We were listening to NPR (National Public Radio), and the  word  “sex” was mentioned. Liza straightened up on the seat asked, “Mami, what is sex?”

“Mmmmmh,” I said slowly shaking my head up and down, trying not to act surprised.. “Sex, sex, mmmh” “Mh, You want toknow what sex is?”


“Well, I will have to tell you about it later, but just know that sex is something only grown up people do!”

“Later when”

“When you are 10 years old”, I responded stupidly. 

“You have to be 10?”

“Oh no!” I think to myself, “What does that question mean…that you have to be 10 to have sex, or you have to be 10 to betold about sex?”

“Yes, you have to be 10,” was all I could manage to say.


We dropped Mia off, and came back home. No sooner had we got back into the house than Liza looked at me andasked, “What is SEX.” She had this sly smile on her face that seemed to say, “I know all about it.”

“I told you we will talk about it later.”

I called my friend Lynelle and shared with her, and she told me that a few months ago Jake, her 7 year old (who is in thesame class as Liza) had told her, “Mummy, I know when you and daddy are in your bedroom with the door closed, youare having THE SEX.” Wow, that’s something.

Later in the evening, we talked with George and we decided to approach it by first explaining to her about sex beingGender…easy enough…. And then give a few more details (which details to give to a 7 year old about sex…I don’t know)



I thought we were done with the SEX topic, and was hoping to spend some time thinking more about it and how to talkabout it. I should have known better, because I know Liza is persistent. She does not quit until she gets what she wants.A wonderful character trait, but definitely NOT good when what she wants to know is about SEX, and Mom is not readyto tell it like it is!!!

Anyway, today, about 5:00 pm, I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready, and Liza came in and said, “Mami, tell me,what is sex?”

“Oh, no, not again.” I think. “Where did you hearabout sex?”

“On the radio.” (I already knew that) “No, not just on theradio. Before that?” She shrugged her shoulders.

“Ok, see how daddy is a man, and I am a woman? Daddy’s sex is male, and mine is female. Or, how you are a girl and Jakeis a boy? You are of the female sex, and Jake is of the male sex.”

“I already knew that. But what is the other sex?” (The other sex? Please God, help me with this)


“Ok kiddo, leave me alone,” I wanted to say. But I knew she needed some answers. I wasn’t sure which. So, I bent downand got to her level and told her, “What do you think sex is?” (Who asks a 7 year old what she thinks sex is?) “Do you knowwhat it is?” I stupidly continued.

She laughed…very slyly. “No Mami, I don’t.”


“The way you are smiling, I have a feeling you know something.”

“Ok, I know!” (My heart skips a beat.)

“You do? What is it?”

“Maami, I don’t want to tellyou.” “Why?”

“I just don’t want to tell you.” “Come on Liza, you cantell me.” “No.”


“Because it’s Yucky!” “Sex is Yucky?”

“Yes, it’s Yucky for little kids.”

“Please Liza, tell me what you know.” (I am starting to panic)

“It’s so yucky I can’t even say it. I am going to write it for you.” (What? She knows enough about sex to even write aboutit?)…Well if I may digress a little, Liza loves to write. She writes notes and letters and stories all the time. She reminds meof myself as a young girl/lady. I expressed myself much better with a pen! I can’t tell you how many letters I wrote to mysister, especially when I perceived “injustice”. Over time, I was able to steal back some of those letters. I wish I hadsaved them. Maybe my sister has a few of them still, I don’t know.”


“Ok. Liza, write it for me.”

She left and went to the  bedroom. I was so anxious I left the kitchen and went to sit down on the sofa and take a breath. Shecame back with a piece of paper that looked RED HOT to me. I did not want to touch it. What if she wrote “Sex is …?”No, I don’t even want to go there.

What if she drew a picture of two people having sex? I was going to die. Why is it so hard to talk about a subject that is sospecial? A biological act that God saw fit to give to mankind for pleasure and procreation? I have no clue. I thought I woulddo better as a mother , but I am clearly  failing.

She waved the red hot piece of paper at me and said , “And Mami, don’t tell anyone, because you always tell yourfriends about me and the things I say.”

“Ok, I promise,” I said as I grabbed the paper from her hands. (I realize I am breaking that promise!!)

On a piece of paper, she had written:

“In love. And then marrie (sic).” Phew! That was close.


“Ok,” I told her, “So a man and a woman are in love, and they get married. Is that sex?” “Yes”

I looked at the paper again and I said aloud.


“A man, and a woman are in love and they get married and…” “And getdivorced!” Liza completed.

“Get divorced? What do you mean? Mami and Daddy are married. Are they going to get divorced?” “No”


“Because Daddy likes you.” “How do you know helikes me?”

“Because you sit down and talk together a lot.”

“Ok, Liza, back to the topic of sex. So, a man and a woman are in love and they get married. Is that it?” “No.” (Oh no, why didI go there?)

“Give me the paper.” She grabbed it from my hands and went back into their bedroom. Back to the livingroom and handed me the paper. She had added,

“Kissing!” The kissing was accompanied by some graphics. (The paper on which she wrote appears at the top of thisarticle)


“What are those?” I asked, pointing at the graphics.

She makes some “kissing” noises. “Ok. Yeah, theykiss. Is that bad?”

“No. But I don’t like when Daddy kisses me on the lips because he leaves “meta” (our word for Saliva) on my lips.”

By now, the stew that I had put on the stove to warm is burning! I jump up and go back to the kitchen, and that was it aboutsex. At least for today. I am sure the subject will come up sooner than later. But I am ready to sit down and have a littletalk with her and explain a few things.


Any advice would be greatly appreciated!



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