My Teen Daughter Now Jokes About Penises and Sex Positions
There’s a snarky, sarcastic saying that goes something along the lines of, “Sometimes the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to other.” In my case, there are times where I feel like what I experience as a dad of three kids with ages ranging from 5 up to 14, needs to be used as a warning for other parents. Specifically, for those unexpected, random moments when you are suddenly slapped in the face by the reality that your once-little child – in my case, Thing 1 – is no longer an innocent, little child.
Last weekend, Thing 1 had a friend (aka: “Bestie”) over and for a sleepover. Now, my wife and I are huge NHL hockey fans (I’m a Blackhawks fan and my wife is a Rangers fan) so my wife had the Rangers game on TV. I was in the other room but could hear everything that was going on. Thing 1 asked her mom why their starting goalie, Lundqvist, wasn’t playing, to which my wife replied with, “He’s out because he got hurt while taking a puck to the throat.”
It was at this point that Thing 1 shouted in a horror-stricken manner, “HE TOOK A COCK TO THE THROAT?!”
My wife, likely out of denial about what our daughter just bellowed through the house said, “Why would a male chicken have anything to do with that? No. A PUCK. He got hit in the throat with a PUCK!”
This was when we heard the girls giggling and Bestie said, while laughing, “Seriously, Thing 1, what makes you think he’s gay?”
Our teenage daughter just screamed “COCK” in the house. The kid gloves are apparently not just taken off, but they’re burned, too.
Later on that day, Thing 1 and I were at the store buying some ice cream because her, her mother, and I, were going to have a movie night. As I was checking out using one of those self checkout registers, the total of an item ended in $.69 and without missing a beat, Thing 1 starts laughing and, a la Beavis and Butthead, said, “Heh. heheh. 69. heheh.”
Seizing the opportunity to make my teenager feel a bit uncomfortable (hey, I’m a dad. It’s in my job description) I turned with my best poker face and asked perfectly calm but with a hint of confusion, “Why is that funny?”
“Uhhh… I dunno. I just though it was funny.”
“But why? The other item’s total was $2.99 but you didn’t laugh at that. I don’t understand, what was so funny about the total of that one?”
“I uhhh… I dunno. It just seemed sorta funny is all.”
I kept this up for a bit and then dropped the charade by saying, “You know, I don’t think you realize that your mother and I hear most of what you say even when you don’t think we can. We also know the meaning of most of what you say but because you’re a teenager, you just assume we’re idiots who live under a rock. Just remember to keep things appropriate when you’re in public around people who may not find things funny the way you do. And please don’t lie to my face when I ask you something, even if it might lead to an awkward conversation. Just knowing about something won’t get you in trouble.”
These are the kinds of moments that you can’t possibly always be prepared for when you children, but you can still think about how you want to respond. How you react to these moments that sneak up on you like a ninja, may very well influence your child’s willingness to communicate with you about much more serious issues down the road. I know that these topics will come up (no pun intended) – like penis jokes and finding immature humor in things – and they’re a normal part of life.
Having grown up in a house where those topics were forbidden, I know how drastic overreaction will only keep your kid from feeling safe and comfortable confiding in their parent. I’d much rather have some awkward laughs over spontaneous conversation since, most days, it’s all I can do to get my teenager to talk to me about anything.