One thing I’ve learned from 18 years of teaching high school is that teenagers are notoriously squeamish about sex.
Well, let me restate that. They’re notoriously squeamish about the idea of their parents having sex.
Think about it. As much as we parents don’t want to have to deal with the idea of our kids “doing it” (and having as much fun as we did at that age), they don’t want to deal with the idea of us doing it. But for different reasons.
We want to protect them from unplanned pregnancies and diseases that a quick shot of penicillin won’t cure anymore (remember those days?). They just think it’s gross. Old people having sex? Eew.
First of all, they can’t believe that we “old people” actually find each other attractive. About 10 years ago one of my 8th graders said, “Mr G, we understand that 20-year-olds find other 20-year-olds attractive. But do 50-year-olds really find other 50-year-olds attractive?”
Without missing a beat I replied, “Yes. And some of you have some very attractive mothers.”
They almost threw up.
Then a few years later, one of my 9th graders was in total denial about the idea that his parents ever had sex.
I rolled my eyes and said, “Matt, you weren’t hatched.”
“OK well it was just that one time.”
“Matt, you have two siblings.”
He was getting a little distraught, but said, “OK, just those three times.”
Then I went for the jugular. I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Matt, did your parents ever say to you, ‘Why don’t you go play outside?’”
There was a look of horror as the blood drained from his face, and he screamed, “NOOOOOO!”
I guess he was asked to go play outside a lot.
As I recounted that very story to a group of recent 9th graders, one girl got very quiet and said in a quavering voice, “My parents still tell me to go play outside. Oh eew. That’s just disgusting. They shouldn’t be doing that at their age. They should like each other for other reasons.”
How quaint. How cute even. They should like each other for other reasons. Almost sounds like something we’d tell them.
So then I asked her, how old is too old to be having sex.
Her answer? 40.
I laughed, and she said, “No, Mr G. Don’t tell me anything about you that I really don’t want to know.” As if I’d actually give her the details of my personal life. But then the little light went on over her head.
“Wait a minute. How old are you?”
“And Sofie’s seven. That means…EEEEW!”
And if you think they think the idea of their parents having sex is disgusting enough. Just even hint that their grandparents might still be playing a little “sofa hockey.”
“Oh that’s disgusting, Mr G!”
“Why? Why shouldn’t your grandparents continue to enjoy life?” I’d ask.
“It’s just gross. I mean, all those wrinkles and everything.”
I look at them, I sigh, and then I ask, “Have you ever heard of a product called Viagra?”
“Yeah…” they all go tentatively.
“In general, who is it marketed to?”
“Guys who can’t…”
“No, no,” I say, cutting them off. “What age group generally has that problem?”
They haltingly say, not really wanting to admit it, “Old guys…eew.”
So to you teenagers out there who think that people like your parents (or grandparents) having sex is disgusting, think about when you get to be that old, which I hope that you all do. And admit to yourselves why there’s that lock on your parents’ bedroom door.
And all you parents of teenagers, mess with their heads a little bit. Just for fun, say, “Why don’t you go play outside.”
And watch them run, screaming, from the house.