Queen of the Awkward Conversation
The other day I was invited to teach at an assembly at my kids' junior high & high schools. I did my best to not acknowledge them as they sat with their friends, or share stories about our home life, or point to them as examples so as to not embarrass them too much.
Later in the day I asked, "How did I do?"
My son confessed, "When you started, your jokes were so corny I was worried, but I was thankful it got better."
It's who I am. Just on the other side of cool.
This does not work to my advantage when forced to face the awkward conversations in life. The times I set aside for "the talk," are OK--these are the moments when I have prepped, read up and thought ahead for questions.
But no one prepares us for the times these conversations just "happen."
You know like the time your husband is away on a business trip, when your tween son's friends at school use a sexual euphamism he doesn't understand and he decides to ask you what it means.
Yes, that time.
When your mind is reeling on what is just enough and what is too much information, while his sisters are sitting in the back seat. As you explain, his jaw drops, and one sister screams "EWWWWWW" while the other puts her fingers in her ears yelling, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU."
At the next red light you are wildly texting your husband, "SO NOT FAIR. DO YOU KNOW WHAT I HAD TO ANSWER JUST NOW? COME HOME!"
You've been married over a decade, are blushing and stammering over yourself to find the best way to let them know. No wonder all the teens in youth group say there are just some things they can't talk to their parents about.
You would think since I talk about these topics "professionally" that I would be better at it.
Nope. Those times are planned, with a curriculum in hand.
There are just times when embarrassing questions come and I'm horrible at knowing what to say. I wildly buy time with the longest drink of water humanly possible.
I've not gotten "smooth" at this.
There are times when I do deflect my son to my husband because, well, I'm not a guy with those body parts and guy feelings. Yet, the truth is my husband deflects the girls to me for the same reason. (And we have more girls so this is hardly fair.)
What I am thankful for is that through the stutters, beads of sweat and bright red cheeks, my children are asking still us questions. They trust we will try with the best answer we can give.
I think they also appreciate our admission of our awkwardness in these sensitive topics. I've told my kids, "I might blush, but it doesn't mean I won't talk to you about it. "
There's a fine line of too much information though. We don't need to give all the details from our personal experiences as they ask. There are certain pictures our children just don't need etched into their brains. It's ok to take a moment and just tell them you need to regroup and think through what to say.
Just don't stop answering.
It's uncomfortable and awkward and strange to answer the taboo topics, but, create a space where they feel comfortable telling you their thoughts.
I would much rather be the one to try to tell them, than some 20 year old who posted naughty pictures on the internet.
Set up a household that's open to conversation, all conversation. Keep them talking. Then in those hard years, when they pull away, they keep telling us what they are thinking.
I've not gotten any better at all of these topics, but I'm grateful as my kids are getting older that they haven't shut me out yet.