By Bunmi Sofola
The day I asked my mother where babies came from was so traumatic it makes me shudder to recall it”, said Justina, a renowned writer now a grandmother. “It was in 1966 and I was six; a gullible, good-natured soul, a lover of fairy stories who wanted to know if the story of the stock was true. If it was, then why had I never seen a stork when there were so many babies.
“My mother could have told me anything. She could have said simply that when two people want a baby, by some sort of curious magic, a tiny little spec is made in the woman’s tummy. I liked magic and believed in it. But my mother was adamant her daughter would be far more liberated than she was. So, despite my tender age, she launched into a full anatomical description of sex, something that would colour my attitude to love and intimacy forever. I grew up thinking it was just a bit of fun, momentary meaningless. There is no doubt my mother’s liberal attitude paved the way for me agreeing to my first ill-fated marriage being `open’. This didn’t in any way mean we had loads of lovers – in ten years of being together I took only one and my husband three or four – but rather there was a total disconnect between love and sex. Even today, in my second less conventional marriage, where love and fidelity absolutely go hand-in-hand, I can’t help but feel great sex has more to do with my husband’s beloved football team winning a match than a resurgence of affection for me. If my mother had been ore conservative when I came to sex education, would I feel differently? I believe I might.
“As a mother of five boys, ranging from 33 to 19, I have very determinedly taken the opposite approach – I pretended sex didn’t ever exist, letting them find out about it in their own time, from their school and peers. And thankfully, not one of them posed the most awkward of questions. I still wonder what my mother was thinking. A little girl does not need to know about her father’s manhood or the fact her mother has a `hidden passage’ inside her. While she chatted away happily, I was horrified – not to mention a little traumatised. `Don’t worry Justina, there’s nothing to be afraid of!’, she said. I became determined I would never experience sexual desire if it made you do such horrible things.
“This feeling stuck with me throughout primary school. When I was 14, my mother went further still. She told me it was important to find out about my own body and not to fear it. I had to find out what gave me pleasure before I could ask someone else to do I for me. Surely, surely, it’s not a mother’s role to say such things to her daughter? But she firmly believed that the more you knew about sex, the better lover you would become, and the more fulfilled you would be. As a teenager, I wanted to be rebellious. I was longing to do things my mother would disapprove of, and make my own path in life. But when you’re faced with enquiries like: `Have you honestly not had your first orgasm yet? Poor love!” you become – what can I say? – anti-sex, a lover of purity, friendship, anything which isn’t about body parts.
“Despite her enthusiasm for me to experiment, I was still (much to my mother’s despair) a virgin at 18. Rather than feeling, I should wait for `the one’, I began to feel I’d like to shed off virginity. When a handsome young naval officer home on leave asked me out, I thought: `Oh well, it may as well be him’. Poor man. I may as well have been in a dentist’s chair and when the did was done, felt as empty as could be. I did have a couple of other lovers before I married my first husband, aged 22. He came from a bohemian background but his liberal views on sex and fidelity did not faze me.
“Part of my mother’s relationship advice was that all red-blooded men were unfaithful to their wives, so I didn’t bat an eyelid at the idea of infidelity. After all, what did sex matter? Somewhat unsurprisingly, after a decade the marriage collapsed. My husband had fallen in love with one of his mistresses. Heartbroken, I went on to marry again but with a far more conventional outlook. I had two further sons and that’s when I became determined to put matters right on the sex education front. I was certainly not going to be my sons’ friend and adviser in bedroom matters. Neither parent nor child should know what the other gets up to in bed. Rather, they would find out all about sex from their schools and their peers. My role would be to pretend that sex didn’t even exist. I would neither encourage nor discourage but let them find out about it in their own time.
I was always waiting for the question ‘Where did I come from, mummy?’ and tied myself in knots as to how I would answer it, but luckily, it never came. Perhaps, this sex-education business is easier with boys, I hoped. There was one wobble, though. Soon after my eldest son began university, he brought a girl home to stay the night. Her name was Amanda. She wore stilettos, revealing cropped leggings and a good deal of make-up. But she was also petite and seemed a lot younger than 19. She was friendly enough over supper and polite. I kept thinking: ‘This is so wrong! Shouldn’t I be ringing her parents?’
“But my son would never forgive me for interfering. I was beside myself with worry. I had never even told my son to treat a girl with respect and tenderness, nor to get to know her first before sleeping with her. Then an even worse thought came into my head. I had never so much as mentioned the word `condom’ and I knew my son wouldn’t have given a thought to contraception.
If she wasn’t on the Pill, I would be a grandmother to a child I might never know. By morning, I was already envisaging arguments between my husband and my son’s father about who would be paying maintenance for the poor child. And all because of my negligence.
“Thankfully all was well. Amanda did not fall pregnant and life went on. Still I was flummoxed as to what line I should take. Should I start advising my other sons? I began to ask around – how did other mothers deal with the sexual education of their children? Some, to my horror, seemed almost as liberal as my mother and said they could `talk about anything’ with their children. Worse was the friend who took the opposite view. `Remember the pleasure of sneaking down the corridor in the early hours and getting into bed with your boyfriend?’ she asked me. `I want to crease the same titillation in my home, and will refuse to let my son share a bedroom with his girlfriend until he’s married’.
“Another friend told me with pride about how she knocked on her 22-year-old son’s door one Sunday morning and offered to cook him and his girlfriend breakfast, when a second child shouted out – me too please! God save me from such a moral quagmire. Can I imagine saying to my youngest now 20: `Remember one girl at a time!’ I’m afraid I’m still going to take the cowardly way out and remain silent on the issue. The others have all grown up now – one is even expecting a baby soon. And as for you, my youngest, do whatever you like – just don’t tell me about it!”
Why you should sleep completely naked!
1.Skin: When the nights are hot (not now it’s raining) going naked not only cools you down, it allows areas that are usually restricted by clothes to get some fresh air – lowering the risk of certain skin conditions.
2.Hormones: Being overheated while you’re in dreamland can cause your level of the hormone cortisol to rise, which can lead to increase feelings of anxiety and stress, and make you crave naughty foods!
3.Fertility: A recent study found that men who slept completely nude had a far lower percentage of damaged DNA in their sperm compared with men who wore boxers or briefs.
4.Sex: Sex has a host of health benefits – and you’re more likely to have it if you’ve shed those Pjs!
5.Relationships: Sleeping naked with someone encourages skin-on-skin contact. This boosts the levels of oxytocin in your brain. This makes you feel happy and much closer to your partner. It’s win-win!