A knitter has needs.

I may not survive my daughters adolescence.

Despite my girls being really very good, self-respecting girls with high self-esteem, from time to time it feels becomes necessary to give lectures on the fickleness of teenaged boys and explain that you can’t really worry about not being what boys say they want, and just because *someone* doesn’t like you the way you are does not mean that you should try to change everything about yourself before tomorrow because tomorrow the fickle arse will say that he wants something else and that the best thing to do is to just be yourself because all that they really want is….well, trust me. I attempted to convey that teenage boys have an, er….narrow focus. Boys have *needs* and they are driven to act on them. I’m trying to block out the part where, in a fit of motherly malcontentment, desperate to a) be cool b) convey my deep feelings about female solutions to male problems at this age and c) in my rush to explain the deep, complex, innermost workings of the male adolescent mind I accidentally blurted taught my teenaged daughters the phrase “choking the chicken”. (Big mother points there. Big points. Just kill me. Never mind. I’ll knit a noose.) During this first horrific phase of the conversation, I discovered that if I have these kinds of stressful conversations with my daughters I spin very quickly.


That there is 190 metres of Laurie’s Moorit spun and plied into 24 wpi yarn. I’ve spun about half of what she sent, so there will probably be about double this when I’m done.

As I attempted to recover my equilibrium and discuss rationally the issue that boys have *needs* and there is nothing really wrong with that but it certainly has nothing to do with you….I felt the need for a good stiff drink the second Estonian mitten.


Nothing like an Estonian braid festival to take the edge off.

I further pressed my point that having *needs* is normal and healthy and that nobody, even girls should worry about feeling that they may have some *needs*, but that when you are very young and you cannot possibly deal with the consequences of acting on *needs* in any way…no matter how much the young couple in question really, really love each other and even if they know in her their hearts that they will be together forever…none of these young children people should act on these *needs* in any way but the most ….er, private of ways, and that that is what I really meant with the whole chicken thing and I didn’t mean to be crass but that it’s really All. So. Clear.

Desperate to avoid any further conversation about being your own best friend normal human behaviour I explained further about the consequences of *needs* while knitting this sock


and feeling some *needs* to knit a wire chastity belt, I settled for beginning another sock (and contemplating how if we could just teach everyone to channel frustration into hobbies we wouldn’t need to have days like this)


which will be kept by the computer as the world swirls darkly and I surf “How to talk to your teen” sites. Somebody shut me up next time.

77 thoughts on “A knitter has needs.

  1. “punching the clown” sounds better, but then I hate clowns.
    Don’t feel bad, the talk had to come eventually. Kudos for having the guts to go through “why boys are bad/stupid” before they get married. My mom offered to give me “the talk” at some point after I’d been engaged for almost 2 years of a 6 year relationship during which we shared an apartment for a while. Let’s just say she was a little late.

  2. Oh holy hell. I can’t believe you talked to your children about..uhmmm, ‘being your own best friend”! That is awesome. I actually think more parents should take that approach…

  3. Oh my. I have a twenty month old daughter and a twenty-two year old son…you’ve just reinforced for me that my daughter will be more of a challenge. You did really well though and a good stiff drink helps keep the blood from congealing in the viens from having the talk.
    Love the socks and Estonian mittens.

  4. I’m taking notes. And living in mortal fear of the teen years. We prefer the term ” Strumming the One-String Guitar” at our house.

  5. I love you.
    I have a 20 and 18 year old daughter and a 13 almost 14 year old son.
    My daughters are willing to talk to me. My son hangs his head in shame. LOL
    Congrats on the talk.
    You should get a lot of knitting/spinning done in the future.

  6. Oh Harlot – the very idea of that conversation absolutly terrifies me. I have a boy and a girl who haven’t approached the true teenage years yet and I have no clue as to how I’m going to handle *those* sorts of conversations about *needs* – I believe I might just lock them in their rooms unitl they’re in their forties and then we’ll talk. Great job on your talk – it really sounds like it went well.

  7. Sounds like you kept the lines of communication open…they hear you even if they act like they don’t appreciate it…
    at least you have daughters…try talking to your son about, ahem, control…

  8. Oh man, you brought back some memories today. My mom didn’t mince words either when it came to boys, girls, and *needs*. And for that I am grateful. Your daughters are lucky-there’s a lot of moms out there who can’t even imagine talking to their kids about *needs* let alone actually go through with it. Your a kick-ass mom, and your girls are pretty kick-ass themselves.
    A knit chastity belt? Know THAT might emotionally scar your girls. I know it would me.

  9. I went to highschool in British Columbia in the 80s and had a fairly liberal sexuality education. Now I live in Southern California where my kids attend public school. My 12 year old son brought home a permission slip for “abstinence education.” I thought the alternative was proper sex education. The alternative was actually NO education. I was pretty shocked. He came home after a 2 hour lecture on waiting until marriage and his comment was, “How realistic is that? Do they think I am going to get married at 15?” Putting aside the revelation that my child plans on waiting only 2.5 more years before becoming sexually active, I learned that this is the standard approach to sex education down here thanks to GWB. I predict a crisis in a few years as many of these kids face adolescence without proper knowledge.
    Harlot – are you sure you don’t want to move south of the 49th and educate this nation’s children?

  10. Waiting for child #3 to step off the plane tonight and instantly show me that in three months of college she has metamorphosed into a confident, composed, adult, like the two older ones (mostly) did… While the baby, 16, will be observing every word his big sister utters, picking and choosing which behaviors to mimic for forever to come–whether he realizes it or not.
    Teenagers are cool. And it only gets better. After you survive moments like yours today; it’s part of the package deal, but it’s worth it.

  11. I agree the Harlot should definately move to the lower 48 & teach all KINDS of things to our youth.
    This did remind me of the phrase my mom would tell me, “Sex complicates EVERYTHING” granted I didn’t believe her right away but after reflection (& learning from my friends “experiences’ *ehem*) MAN she wasn’t kiddin.
    Kudos Harlot for taking matters into your own, *blush*, hands.

  12. If only my mother had talked to me about being my own best friend when I was 15! Instead she put me on the pill; in hindsight, probably not the best approach. I know she was trying to save me from her fate (my mom and I are a little less than 18 years apart in age) but still. . .
    I’m ashamed to admit, even though I thought I was the crassest person I know, I had never heard the phrase “choking the chicken”. Is that a Toronto thing?

  13. The best thing that you can do is keep talking about it. As scary as it might seem, it is a whole lot better to know what is going on in their lives and be a driving force in getting them to act maturely than to think it is over with and hope they remember.
    *That* was the last thing I wanted to talk to my mom about, so we didn’t, and she was a bit shocked later on when I decided to get married and already knew the *rest of the talk*. Being raised in a socially conservative environment meant that all was hidden and there was a lot of guilt and confusion and dangerous misunderstanding. Good job getting through this one, just remember to keep it up now (not daily, but, you know), it will benefit everybody. You have some great kids.
    And about taking up hobbies, did you know the term spooning originated from young betrothed men being given hunks of wood and told to carve spoons to keep their hands busy while waiting for the wedding?

  14. My mom was just as straightfoward as it sounds like you have been with your daughters (she was upfront with me AND my brother) and while I am sure we were all embarrassed at some points, I think it set a precedent for our adult relationships – open and honest. ๐Ÿ™‚ So, a little bit of weirdness now may be really good in the long run.

  15. “Choking the chicken” had me in stitches, and so did “strumming the one-string guitar.” But my hands-down favorite is “menage a moi” — oh, my! Congrats on surviving the first talk; several more will follow, trust me. The pay-off, at least with my daughter, is that she has no trouble talking to me about anything — and does. As a consequence of our ability to have frank discussions on sex and everything else, her friends have decided that I am a hippy(??). Doesn’t bother me since they are much more into what looks like “free love” than my daughter is. Now our son is about 14 and it is my HUSBAND’S turn to embark on this lovely topic. I sit back and laugh softly.

  16. Harlot,
    you make me laugh so hard. My mom gave me the same kind of talk when I was a teenager and boy was I grateful for it. I credit her honesty for keeping me out of trouble. It may be a bit embaressing now, but your kids will look back and say to themselves “Man, I had such a cool mom!”
    Also the one line I remember from my mom and to this day it still goes off in my head: “Remember when you have sex with someone you are not just responsible for yourself, but also for the other person’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.” Well that one is HEAVY…
    In college (I went to a woman’s college) we didn’t use the phrase “choking the chicken” instead we referred to “your best friend: Betty five-fingers.” Pretty crass….

  17. Ah, Harlot…I have three lovely daughters…18, 16 and 10. I feel your pain…anxiety…need for distraction….alcohol sounds damn good too.
    Keep talking. They may listen…they may not. But you will have SAID it, at least.
    Hugs from the wilds of Oregon.

  18. I’m still young enough to remember with vague embarassment my own mother’s attempts at educating me. Sex Ed was still actually educating when I was in school, although they never talked about “menage a moi” or “choking the chicken.” As a supplement, my mom took the track of handing me a condom and lubricant when I was 15 or so, and telling me how the two worked together and how to properly unroll a condom onto a guy’s… uh… “need.” Humiliating? Certainly. Useful when I finally got around to “menage a deux” several years later? Yup.
    You’re a great mom for tackling this topic with your daughter, and for doing it while she’s young enough for it to make a difference. Bravo.

  19. I wanted you to see the e-mail contents I just sent to Writer’s Digest about your blog. They’re compiling information on worthwhile blogs for a special publication, Personal Writing, and I want your blog to be considered for inclusion. Here’s what I sent them:
    “I’d like to bring to your attention http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog.
    “Ostensibly a knitting blog, it is also one of the best written and funniest blogs I’ve seen yet. The author is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, who shares her life and projects with an enthusiasm, sense of humor and warm-hearted optimism that are as inspiring as they are amusing.
    “Those leaving comments on her almost-daily entries regularly note the funny looks they get ,while reading her blog, from co-workers when their morning coffee gets snorted in laughter onto their computer screens or when their giggles get too loud. They also are harassing her to write a book, so taken are they with her style and her unique world vision.
    “Be warned: the Yarn Harlot’s musings are addictive. You’ll read not only all her current entries, but also her archives. It’s an endeavor to which you’ll happily dedicate far more of your free time than you’d intended!”
    Thought you’d like to know.
    A faithful reader,

  20. From a site dedicated to that ol’ TV show Beavis an Butthead: “My personal favorite was a particularly brutal episode where Butt-head began to choke on a chicken nugget. He gasped desperately for Beavis to call 911, to get help. He gasped that he was choking on chicken and Beavis oblivious to his friend’s imminent death laughed about Butt-head choking his chicken. Even while turning blue Butt-head laughed too. Beavis wandered away to get help and immediately forgot he was supposed to be getting help. For the rest of the cartoon Butt-head was left to gasp and edge closer to death. Eventually Beavis returned, stepped on Butt-head’s stomach and accidentally Heimliched the nugget free. Beavis promptly picked up the nasty nugget, tried to eat it and started choking himself.”
    Tell them that you got it all wrong. The term you meant to use was “choking on a chicken nugget.” ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Oh Lord. Best to keep MY mouth shut. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Well, this might be something along the lines of a cold shower, but if both girls and boys tried knitting Estonian mittens, I’m sure that their *needs* might diminish somewhat! (Thankfully, my husband has no idea where I’ve been on the internet or he’d read this and ban Estonian mitten knitting immediately!)

  22. I have a boy who’s 13 and a boy who’s 11 and a little girl who’s 10! I had my first question that included the F word when the oldest was 9 and the middle was 7. The middle one asked, “What’s &*^%ing?” I told him that I wasn’t prepared to answer that right during dinner, that I needed to think about it, but that I would give him an answer before he went to bed that night. I did, and it made me EVER CONCIOUS of the need to be very open with my kids or they’ll hear it from someone else.

  23. Stephanie-
    Since your daughters won’t thank you until they ahve daughters of their own I will. Thank you for ralking to them. My mother was quite frank with me and I was glad for it. My friends used to ask my for advice about sex and topics of that nature and I had realy, honest answers b’c of my mom.
    Also, I feel your pain simply b’c I ahve a teacher for a partner. A teacher who for many years taught the catholic version (the guilt and shame program haha) of sex ed to 6th graders. She was frank and honest and learned alot about how to teach and how to do it without being demoralizing or making yourself feel embarrassed. (She was told once by a nun to say the words that she thought would be the hardest to say in front of children over and over until they became that bubble gum thing: say bubble gum 20 times in a row and it loses its meaning after awhile) She is still considered “the best teacher” by many kids who are now off to college. They call her and ask her life’s difficult questions. If you need any tips I know a teacher who is willing to share her secrets.

  24. Damn straight, Toni. (Bookbookbookbookbookbookbook, ok?)
    Yesterday evening we watched three Newfie chicks discuss this very topic on FSTV (Free Speech TV, what hippies watch. Hey, when did I become a hippy?) and it certainly made a certain conversation more imminent. DS13, however, will truly require a different approach. He, uh, will not be menacing your daughters, I think. But how does this ol’ hippy-chick figure out how to navigate him through this hurdlish season of life, considering the special challenges that he presents.
    Maybe I’ll just buy a big closet.

  25. I think I busted something I was laughing so hard.
    {{{big hug for you}}} I can’t imagine, but I thank you for sharing. I also wonder if it would be “choke the turkey” in the States this week?
    *runs away giggling*

  26. I cackled, I howled, I snorted…this has to be your best post yet, Stephanie. I don’t know which of the four I liked best, aforesaid (or was that aforeskin?) chicken, guitar, menage a moi or asking if choking the chicken was a Toronto thing?!! Gahhhh!! Having experienced the unique experience that is dating Canadian men (during a few years in Toronto) I have to say I think it MIGHT be a T.O. thang…! You make my day, girl!
    And Dena, if I hear you correctly, I’d say that it’s mostly the same… the meat and bones don’t seem to change the game all that much, at least between the players. It’s the outer society that mucks it up. And Stephanie? I cannot WAIT to hear what comes next…

  27. Heh heh… Choke the chicken. My boyfriend in high school used to talk about dating the Palm Sisters. Nice. I was 16 when we dated and I was SURE that we would eventually marry. We broke up and he lived with his parents until he was 26. Phew!
    Imagine your kids at 30 reminiscing about “the good old days”… yeah, they’ll remember that you said “choke the chicken” and that’s what will cause them to wipe tears of laughter from their eyes… but they’ll also be glad that you had that talk with them.
    I still remember the horribly embarrassing discussions my mom had with me about sex but I am still thankful that she cared enough to talk to me about it. She didn’t to go into the details, though, because she knew she didn’t have to. I grew up spending my after-school time in my parent’s drugstore. When I ran out of comic books to read, I would read the women’s magazines: Chatelaine, Cosmo, Glamour… And,when I dusted the shelves in the dispensary I would read the sides of the bottles and then hold them up and demand to know what the drug was for. There was quite an education to be had in the dispensary. Even in the years before the magic blue pill.
    Growing up around and working in a pharmacy I heard and saw a lot of the “side effects” of not educating your kids about sex, from pregnant teens to grown women who weren’t taking “the pill” properly to ignorance about STDs. It reinforced to me that when I have kids, the talk we have is going to much more humiliating than the one my mom and I had. I’m thinking that there will be plenty of information pamphlets involved.
    Perhaps you could knit some diagrams.

  28. DAMN! You went into “being your own best friend?!!?!” Woman, that is impressive! My mom didn’t touch *any* of that — I don’t even think I *got* a talk (I learned about sex from the set of Encyclopedias my parents kept in the basement. no joke.) I know when I have kids that age, I’m going to be a MESS with that convo!
    Nice job! Keep spinning! You’ll feel better ๐Ÿ™‚

  29. Awww. How sweet.
    I’m sure your girls are practical and perhaps the loving talk could be punctuated by statistics/visits to a teen pregnancy center. Not to scare, mind you, it’s just that teens seem to think that they’re invincible and that unplanned things will never happen to them.
    There’s a campaign on tv here to talk to your teen and ask lots of questions as the anti-drug. Based on my parents, I reckon it works. Of course, I could also write a book based on the “pearls of wisdom” my father has come up with. Know that your daughters will share the choking the chicken story with friends and remember it far far beyond what you fear. And giggle. Lots. For 10 years. Or more.
    You rock. Absolutely. Even more than your Estonian superduperness and knitting prowress.

  30. I’m surprised that there have been no negative comments from folks who think one should not talk about menage a moi let alone tell your kids to do it.
    Last month, a third grade Catholic school teacher in my book club was celebrating that she no longer teaches middle school. That week at her school, the 7th and 8th grade teachers were instructed to talk about “the evils of self foolishness.”

  31. just to clarify – I think Canada may be a nation of chicken chokers. Don’t picture that, ok?… or you will need to use your knitting needles to gouge out your mind’s eye. I don’t think it’s just Toronto. Perhaps it is just part of the Eastern Canadian lexicon.
    West Coasters? Your thoughts?

  32. When my oldest was 16, I was taking a Health Education class for elementary school teachers. I’d come home in the evenings where the kids (all 4 plus friends, bf’s, etcs…would be in attendence. I would give the current statisics as I burst into the house-mostly because I couldn’t believe them. In 1998 I made sure all teens within hearing distance heard, “the youngest mother to give birth in California was 11 years old, the youngest Grandmother was 22…do the math…”
    One had a friend who wanted to have a baby at 16…”just to have someone to love.”..I asked her…”are you ready to do battle with a teacher who’s not treating your child correctly?” “Well, no..” “Then you’re not ready to become a parent then”…Next day, I got a thank you call from her mom.
    Then, came prom nights shortly afterwards..where it’s known I get to be the last adult to pop my head into the cars/limos…with the now famous phrases: No drinking, No smoking, No drugs…NO SEX…HAVE A GREAT TIME!!!!
    the first few times I sent kids off a few shocked and surprised looks on their faces…after the cars would drive off…the parents would say…”I never thought to tell my kids that.” Something to think about…if you don’t tell them what not to do…who’s telling them what to do…
    At this point…my kids are 23, 22, 19, and 17…and we’re doing great…with lots of communication…with each other and their friends.

  33. Count your blessings you have daughters. I’ve had to have this conversation with my two teenage sons. My husband is humiliated at the thought of discussing these things with them, it’s up to me and I went about it in the bluntess(did I just make that word up?) way possible. We talked. They were caught so offguard they were in shock, couldn’t move so had to listen.

  34. You did great. My mom seems to have been a pioneer of abstinence education. I don’t think it was helpful. Although I didn’t have sex as a teenager (and didn’t work out much about my sexuality until my mid-20s), it was still a problem. Of course there are other influences in your life, but taking an intellectual knowledge (and experience) of sex as pleasurable, fun, loving, etc. and layering it with shame, guilt, I’m not doing it right, etc. does not make a very good combination. Keep talking (probably preferably while appearing to concentrate on something else like knitting or spinning). And talk about ‘being your own best friend’. How else will she learn what she likes?!
    Of course the other impact of all that, is that I have NO idea how to approach this with my daughter (now 7). She brought up the ‘where do babies come from’ recently (but how do the sperm get in tehre mom?) DURING DINNER. I was fine…

  35. I remember my first sex-ed class in switzerland. The teacher came into the room, looked around and asked the class: “you’ve got a boy/girl-friend, want to have sex but not get pregnant, what do you do?” We were about 15, and only 3 out of 9 girls were still virgins at the time. Yet we all looked around not making eye contact with anyone. I think what you did has immense merrit.
    Only if we know about our own *needs* and how to *deal* with them in the *best* way or the most *satisfying* ehm *position* are we able to share with a boy/girl-friend a relationship that is more than a *bump ‘n’ grind*…
    I think you’re doing a FABULOUS job with your daugthers… any idea where we can go to get tips on boys? R and I already decided that Huxley won’t be allowed to date until he is 35, and that only if we know exactly who he is dating… (grin).. that’s the other options isn’t it?….
    How about calling it simply *Girl Power*?

  36. I am just so grateful my cats don’t have thumbs.
    In other matters, my eyes just bugged — Harlotta, are you knitting NERUDA onto that sock???

  37. God bless you, dear. I work as a sexual health educator in Chicago, and let me just say that I would SO much rather you have that talk with them than have them try to talk to ME in a few years. Congratulations, you are a great mom for even being willing to bring up the subject. Brava. I mean it. Thank you.

  38. Well, I distinctly remember embarassing morgen by suggesting that the proper lover for her (at 15) was her shower massager.
    I am deeply into the theory that girls should be their own best friends. After 23 years with the same guy – I still believe I should be my own best friend.
    Oh yah – I want the pattern for the chastity belt. Morgen is planning to spend the summer celebrating by living in Europe.

  39. Nice going, Harlot, I spewed chocolate/peppermint bark all over my screen (starting the holiday binge early here). You are a funny funny girl. And I agree with Toni about your delightful talents. BTW, bookbookbook!!!

  40. You’re a great writer — I can’t believe it took me this long to find your blog! Thank you, thank you, for putting it all out there!

  41. You are a great mom. Even if you said “choking the chicken”. You’re still a great mom.
    Teenaged boys *do* have a narrow focus. This is a good point to bring up. My mom mentioned this one to me, back when I was a teenaged girl.
    Teenaged girls should not change themselves to be more appealing to teenaged boys. Teenaged boys are just like “La Donna E Mobile” (from Rigoletto) and there is no pleasing them. These, too, are good points to bring up. My mom also mentioned these, way back when.
    Everyone, pretty much, has *needs* and this, too, is a useful and enlightening thing to mention. Here, you surpassed my mother.
    There is a certain amount of comfort to being one’s own best friend, particularly during one’s teenaged life when there are the aforementioned *needs*. In mentioning this to your daughters, you have awed me.
    I don’t think you need to be reading “How to Talk to Your Teen” websites. I think you’re doing a fine job.

  42. Oh my, Harlot – please come and talk to my 14 year old – who is in this relationship….. with the 15 year old …. oh my god, will it ever end? 1st he’s talking to her then he’s mad at her then he’s not mad at her, he’s mad at everyone else and she’s the only one who understands and …. we’re getting into the needs territory thing… oh god, I remember but I can’t explain and she will never well maybe not for 20 years or so believe that I actually do understand…

  43. Harlot, you are doing a fantastic job! Moms of boys, no need to ask what to say to them. They need exactly the same speech that Stephanie gave to her girls. (BTW, check out the book “Real Boys” by William Pollack–real eye-opener about boys’ life)

  44. The talk… Igot to explain/discuss with a van full of 14 yr old soccer players what “Pure Pleasure” was when we drove by one night. (It is the local XXX adult bookstore). Led to an interesting discussion about boys, etc. Just wish all the kids present had been mine – kindof a delicate issue to take up with other peoples children.
    But, I was mightly distracted by the picture of your mouse, next to the new sock. A Mac! It is good to know I am not alone in the world :->

  45. Choke the chicken is not a toronto thing.
    Love from the Northern tier.
    (And why wasn’t SO surprised when I told him what I was reading on a knitting blog?)

  46. Harlot you Rock! I have 2 girls one almost 17 and one almost 11. I have had plenty of talks with the oldest(in fact I’m rather blue in the face). We watched that birth to death series a few years ago on the Learning Channel. I let her ask any and all questions. It helped for awhile. Unfortunately a person’s frontal lobe in the brain doesn’t fully mature until the age of 21 or so and takes even longer if they do drugs or smoke. The frontal lobe governs reasoning and therefore very few teens have the brains to see reason, let alone reason their way out of a situation involving another teen with a very narrow focus.
    I let her read your post over my shoulder and yes she laughed, but I think you might have impacted her little world more than all my talks have.

  47. Shouldn’t that be knitters have “thneeds”? Um, sorry, distracted.
    My mother’s a librarian, so her solution was to bring home tons of books about puberty, but those never really mentioned such things as menage a moi. Believe it or not, I learned about it from an old Whole Earth Catalog! And this was when sex ed was, indeed, about things like body parts and pregnancy and STDs. Not too much about sexuality and the emotional parts and *needs* unfortunately, but at least it was _somewhat_ practical.
    Good for you for talking with them. Hopefully it’ll be easier for them, when they have to discuss these things later with partners and their own children, even if they blush and giggle and shuffle their feet now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  48. Love it, love it ,love it, your post that is! I read it out loud to my 14 yr old son and husband and we laughed so hard. It happens my son just wrote a speech on love. I will post it on my blog sometime. The teenage male perspective. You’ve got to realize though, he goes to a Catholic school.

  49. hmm. as a teenager myself (albeit in my last year of it), i do like that your girls can come to you about these things.
    but dont you think it would be so much easier and more open to just say sex and masturbation than try to dance around it? i just think that euphemisms are fine, but not when, as a mother, you’re trying to get a specific point across about safety/abstinence/etc. i think frank open honesty with actual terms would indicate how comfortable you are with these discussions

  50. Good job Stephanie ๐Ÿ™‚
    It’s so hard to get the right balance when talking to your kids about this. Sounds to me you did pretty well.
    liz ๐Ÿ™‚

  51. had a similar talk with my 8 years younger sis years ago.. Except my line was in the face of pressure tell them “You have a hand, USE IT!”.

  52. Here in the interior of BC, we are chicken chokers.
    My (male) best friend also has a t-shirt that says “there is no love like self-love” so, um, yeah.

  53. I have to respond before i read all the comments….
    Bravo for you having the inner fiber to talk honestly with darling daughter. (I especially like Catherine’s experience above, too.)
    In spite of teaching abstinence and being a @#$%’d red state, I promise you that Texas is full of chicken chokers, pud pullers and more.
    Perhaps daughter would also benefit from the knowledge that no matter how much said male object of affection says he has NEEDS… what he actually has is WANTS. and not geting said WANTS met does not cause death. i.e., being, ahem, horny, is not an emergency. This was a great relief when I found out. Unfortunately, I didn’t really understand it until about 10 years into my first marriage.
    I can see how if a cold shower doesn’t work, an Estonian mitten might. Especially one with words! Egads, lady you are amazing.

  54. Warning: Y’alls comments are making me competitive.
    When DD was about 12 and DS was maybe 9, (being divorced from their dad) I introduced “Mom’s comprehensive intro sex course” using pipe cleaners. Let you get weirder than me, I made a little man and a little woman and let the kiddos figure out tab A and slot B. They were totally embarrased, but loved playing with the pipe cleaners (I still remember, the pipe cleaners were orange.) When DS was old enough for me to think he might not want to remain “virginal” I told him that I’d given him as much info as I could think of (I was working in a treatment center with male teen sex offenders… so I could think of a LOT!), I told him what he says actually made the biggest difference. “Honey, if you get some girl pregnant, I’ll still love you and will be as supportive as possible of the two of you and the baby, BUT DON’T EXPECT ME TO TAKE CARE OF IT.”
    Did the trick.
    He still doesn’t knit.

  55. If the talks don’t seem to be getting through (but I bet they are, ’cause you certainly managed to be unforgettable!):
    When I was 15, I attended the birth of my youngest sister. Dad cut the umbilical cord and handed her to me. It was an amazing event I’ll never forget – and 15 years later, I’m still childless. It’s not a coincidence (especially since I get to deal with the teen as a sort of sub-parent).

  56. Steph
    It has taken me about 2/3 weeks to read all your blog – yes even the archives – inbetween work, husband and 2year old son. All I can say is that you are fantastic and I can’t wait for each and every installment.
    Just wish Brit Blogs were as entertaining !!!
    Keep it up

  57. You sure have a way of inspiring your readers to comment! I remember having talks of that nature with my step-daughter. (BTW, she turned 18 yesterday, and I am pleased to say she is NOT pregnant, still in school…) Anyway, the need for my talk came from hearing that her mother told her -I kid you not!-that she SHOULD get pregnant so a guy will take care of her and she won’t have to work! Can you imagine?? I don’t care how intimidated parents may feel about having THE TALK, it’s still OUR responsibility and not the school’s. Someone in the comments mentioned about being able to stand up for your kid to a teacher? Well, take that one step further: if you are not willing to have THE TALK, you are not ready to breed. (Sorry about last. I am a farmer. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Hope I didn’t insult anyone. I was nervous as h*ll giving the full talk but that didn’t stop me. Parents have responsibilities, even to step-kids.

  58. what a great post! I too, knit at times of high stress. I grew up with a little of the Catholic guilt thing, and I can remember babysitting as a teenager and being really uncomfortable if my charges’ Barbies were unclothed…
    If anyone out there is looking for a good sex ed book, I’d like to recommend goofyfoot press’ “The Guide to Getting it On” http://www.goofyfootpress.com. The book runs the gamut from menage a moi to pleasing a partner to getting pregnant to std’s to advice about romance vs. lust. It is written in a refreshingly open way, saying that sex can be fun and good, but also states really clearly that other things need to be part of the relationship, too. (ie. commitment, love, concern, respect)

  59. Which should remind us all that the TALK isn’t just about preventing pregnancy but about raising confident girls and boys who are able to enjoy intimate relationships. Sounds like lots of people are doing a really good job. But I’m still glad I’ve got a few years…

  60. THIS is the sound of one Yarn Harlot fan jumping out of her recliner and vigorously applauding you. Adolescence is a pure hell & I love that you are brave enough to face it frankly. Thank you for being frank with the upcoming generation!

  61. A friend calls it “loping the mule” I laughed so hard when I heard that.
    I told my two girls that, biologically and evolutionarily, they are designed to have babies. In the grand scheme of the universe, this is their purpose. So don’t think you can get away without using birth control! You can fight and win against destiny, up to a point, but you can’t ignore it.
    Some girls have thought “oh, I won’t get pregnant/sick/hurt/whatever”, when all evidence and probabilities are to the contrary. Few of us are immune to these things.

  62. Looks like you are well on your way to being the West End Mom to all teenagers who can’t talk with their own parents. I am the East End Mom, and hope to hell the rest of the city is covered!!!
    Love, lust, loneliness, lube, leaving and and saying no, are mixed with pregnancy and STD prevention, how to talk to their own parents, how to get their boyfriends to ‘change’ (um, you can’t), and the joy of seeing kids make good decisions, choose good partners and ultimately grow up!! My eldest is now 20 – phew, 2 more to go (plus their friends)!!!
    This is challenging and awkward at first, but sure beats my mother’s approach – whenI was 16, she told me ‘sex is not all it’s cracked up to be” !!!!!! My poor parents…..

  63. Alison’s post is number 69! (See, the problem with talking to teenagers is that many of us don’t feel any older than them!)
    So last evening I sat with my 13 year-old son and told him that my friend Stephanie had had The Talk with her daughter. She had warned that girl that boys will claim they Have NEEDS. I told him that if he ever gave a girl that sorry line I would be really disappointed because his NEEDS are not her responsibility and he should just come home and strangle the chicken (I messed up the verb, so unalliterative!) I then regaled him (poor poppet) with all the terms you folks offered until he screamed for mercy.
    With luck that’s one off the list of boys Steph needs to worry about (although he’s 500 km out of range!)

  64. Everyone already said it, but I want to reinforce it–you are absolutely AMAZING. Yes, it was probably a squirmy moment for both you and your daughter, but I heartily applaud you for having that talk! Keep at it (even if it means you’ll have to spin every bit of fleece in North America)!

  65. Hey, Harlot! If you had been my mom, I wouldn’t have had my son at 19. Which turned out to be okay, because he is the love of my life, but man…it was a difficult situation. If I had just known a bit more about, ahem, “self-love,” maybe I wouldn’t have gotten myself into such a predicament!
    At 10, my son already knows the facts of life, but he doesn’t really apply them to himself…he still doesn’t much care for girls! But I know that will change, and figure that since he knows the technical aspects, I can start dealing with “emotions” and “needs” and “consequences” as they come up during the next couple of years! Kudos to you for meeting the challenge head-on! That’s what it takes to raise the kids up into responsible, sensitive, mature adults!

  66. It sounds like you did a nice job covering masturbation and the “it really won’t fall off if you don’t touch it” thing that every girl needs to know. I think its so important to encourage young girls to explore their bodies – so they will know how to give themselves pleasure, how to ask for pleasure when they are ready, and also so they will get the point that no one is going to die if they don’t have two-person intercourse. I’d favor legislation requiring that every 13 year old get a vibrator for her birthday – it would cut *way* down on teen pregnancy, I suspect, as well as the degree that girls are impressed by boys ;-).
    I just had a version of “the talk” – but not with my kids who are still at the “boys have penises and testicles, and girls have vulvas, vaginas and clitorises” stage (1, 3, 4 1/2 respectively.)
    My husband’s grandparents live with us. She’s 80 and quite healthy, but was a refugee from the concentration camps at 12, and missed her entire adolescence. He’s 94 and finally failing, and she was mentioning how hard it was to go without sex. I suggested a vibrator, and discovered that no one ever explained how to masturbate to her – and she never has. So we had the talk…and I went online and ordered Grandma a nice pink toy. You should have seen DH’s face when I told him about it ;-).
    Cheers – great blog!

  67. If it’s any consolation, last week I *accidentally* taught my 5-year-old son how to flip the bird. Not just to extend his middle finger solo from the rest of his little digits, but to understand that it’s a gestural addition to the Bad Words list — which, of course, delighted him. It really was a mistake, I swear. The Bronx cheer lessons, however, were intentional — and he’s a fast learner. But a good Bronx cheer should be part of every New Yorker’s vocalic repetoire, no?

  68. “Strangle the chicken”???!!! That one made me LOL!
    In Florida, they choke the chicken AND pull the pud. Such talent way down south in Dixie!
    I’ve had running discussions with my 14-yr-old son and explained terminology or sexual references to him (and to his 8-yr-old brother) whenever the opportunities arose. About masturbation, I use the word now, but when they were little, I told them each that, “God gave you that toy and I’m not going to try to keep you from playing with it. Just remember to do it in private, not in the living room or at a party!”
    I’m just grateful I have no daughters, because I know what kind of trampy thoughts and behaviors I was up to at 14 and would hate to have to worry that my daughters were doing the same things! At least with sons, you don’t usually have to raise any unexpected grandkids!!

  69. I heartily endorse finding a Unitarian church and investigating their religious ed program to find out if it includes the “Our Whole Lives” curriculim. It’s basically a frank, sex ed class for 7th & 8th grade age boys & girls that gives them a realistic, HEALTHY, safety based background on puberty, sex, sexuality, relationships, etc. for life. It’s a great program; many graduate school programs that delve into psych, development, family, public policy, etc. are aware of this program and it is well researched. Knowing kids who are now mid-20’s who completed this program when they were 13-14, they have some of the based senses of self-esteem in this area that I’ve seen. My almost 14 yo son & niece completed it last year, and they both think it was worthwhile. The underlying theme is be safe, we think you should wait, but in the event you choose not to, here are *all* of the facts.

  70. I have a friend here that told me what I will forever believe is the best name for it — “shaking hands with the unemployed”.

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