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Naked Sex With Barbies

by Sierra on January 12, 2010 · 38 comments

in humor,parenting

Awhile back, Rio wanted to go play at a friend’s house. Let’s call this friend X. I was lying in bed with the covers over my head pretending to be asleep while she negotiated this with her dad.

He was trying to persuade her to have her friend over at our house instead of going over there, because he thought the other kid’s parents would prefer that arrangement. She was insisting on going to her friend’s house. I figured they must have cable TV or an endless supply of cookies, but didn’t want to blow my “I’m asleep” cover by saying so.

Finally, Rio said, “Look, I have something extremely important to do at X’s house. It’s half a secret and half not a secret and I am just going to have to tell you what it is.”

She heaves a huge sigh.

“It is…NAKED SEX WITH BARBIES. And styling their hair.”

I bet you can guess which half was a secret.

Now, I remember being five, and having a collection of Barbie dolls, so I don’t think this is all that unusual. I was, of course, shocked to hear that my own sweet innocent baby would abuse her dolls the way I did mine, but I sat up in bed and said, “Oh sure, sometimes that’s a very important game to play when you’re five.”

Her dad took her to her playdate, and I didn’t hear anything else about it for awhile.

Then one day I picked her up from the same friend’s house, and she volunteered, “We played mostly in the bathroom.”

“What did you play?”

“Well, I’m not supposed to tell you.”

“You can tell me anything.”

“We played Naked Sex With Barbies.”

“Who was naked, you or the Barbies?”

Rio looks horrified. “THE BARBIES”

“What do Barbies do when they have naked sex?”

“Well, they were rummaging around, and being mean to each other and at the end there was a big tornado.”

um…I see she has a handle on this one. I peeked into a few parenting manuals that night and they all seemed to think this is normal healthy behavior, so I let it go without further comment.

Fast forward to today. I’m listening to “I Kissed A Girl” by Jill Sobule.

Rio, hearing it, says, “OH! I need to make a copy of this song, and give it to X !”

I am, honestly, not paying a lot of attention. I’m in the middle of hour four of toddler nursing and trying to peel the baby off my chest without setting off a five-alarm tantrum.

“Sure, whatever,” I say. Toddler digs into breast with both hands, really hooking her fingers in. Tears spring to my eyes, along with the thought, “Why doesn’t this hurt more?” because seriously, she is trying to burrow into my soft tissue with her sharp nails. Like a vole.

“Do you know why, Mama?”

“What?”

“Why I need to give this song to X?”

“um…what song? Wait? This song? Are you sure your friend would like this song?”

“YES! Because she really likes sex stuff. I didn’t used to. I used to only like princesses. But then she taught me how to like sex things. I still like princesses, though.”

Rio pauses for breath and we both look at the naked princess doll in her hand.

“Actually, they’re kind of connected,” she says. “In my head.”

“Sex and princesses?” I say.

“Yes. So I want to give this song to X to say thank you because she taught me to like sexy things. And it has the words “I kissed a girl” in it.”

“Right. That makes sense,” this would be me stalling for time, still trying to peel toddler off boob so I can have my meager brain back. Also, why do I have to be half-naked while having this conversation?

I try again, “Did you kiss a girl? Maybe X?”

“NO! …but the princesses kiss each other.”

“OK.”

She plays with her naked Barbie. I finally detach her sister and pull my shirt down. Finally.

“Mama, should I not kiss a girl?”

“Not in a sexy way. That’s really grown-up stuff. It’s OK to think about sex when you’re a kid, and to touch your own body when you’re alone in a private place. And you can talk to your friends about it. But you shouldn’t touch other people in a sexy way until you grow up.”

“Is it OK to play sex games?”

First thought: No. Second thought: who am I kidding? I remember being five and having a Barbie doll. Third thought: I am the luckiest parent in the world because my kid is talking to me about this. Do not make her want to stop doing that. Fourth:  WHAT SEX GAMES? YOU’RE FIVE. WE ARE NOT HAVING THIS CONVERSATION.

Outside voice: “That depends a lot on what the games are. Do they feel good to you, or scary?”

“GOOD!”

“Do you play them with kids or with grown-ups?”

Rio gives me the ‘what-are-you-stupid?’ face. “Kids.”

“Great. That sounds OK. As long as you’re a kid, you can only ever play any kind of sex game with other kids. Never, ever play that way with a grown-up. That’s a very important rule. And for your whole life, never play a sex game that doesn’t feel good to you. If it’s scary, say no and tell an adult you trust. And don’t ever try to make another kid  play that kind of game with you. That’s not OK. You understand?”

Rio, “Sure. Look! Here’s Snow White’s dress.”

THANK FUCKING GOD. WHERE HAS THAT DRESS BEEN ALL MY LIFE? QUICK, LET’S DRESS THE PRINCESSES AND LISTEN TO SOME RAFFI.

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  5. Sex Ed, One Awkward Conversation At A Time

  • Annie

    I basically don't remember the conversation with my mother in which I, at 5, said “Mommy [5-yr-old friend who is a boy who we'll call Y] wants to have sex” and my mother said “Uh… uh… what does Y want to do?” during her stalling for time part of the conversation, and it came about that Y did indeed want to have sex, and she said “Well, you can tell him that that's a thing for grownups and you don't have to if you don't want to.” Which was really good advice to get.
    My mother remembers it quite clearly, obviously, and still gets this look on her face 25 years later. It's a look I can't quite describe – something a little worried and a little angry and a little confused.

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  • rachelshadoan

    *round of applause* well-played, even while half naked! I hope I have one tenth of your presence of mind when I have children.

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  • RosaLC

    I'm beyond glad that I'm unlikely to need to have that conversation with any kids ever. *phew!* But I like how you handled it.

    And, of course, I remember playing naked sex games with my friends (and our dolls) when I was little. It's funny to look back on now!

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  • msmsgirl

    I love this!!

    “for your whole life, never play a sex game that doesn't feel good to you.”

    What a better world we'd live in if everyone heard that from their mother when they were five. This brought tears to my eyes; what a lucky, lucky little girl.

    I only hope that X's parents and home life are as healthy and sympathetic and respectful as Rio's.

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  • http://ceo.livejournal.com/ ceo

    Wow. I am deeply impressed with the way you handled that.

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  • http://blahg.blank.org/ Doctor Memory

    Oh god. I am so, so doomed.

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  • http://meandwee.blogspot.com/ Megan

    Holy crap, I would have had no idea what to say. I never had Barbies, so I don't have the memories to draw on! I'm glad I read this, just in case! :)
    I don't think I even knew what the word “sex” meant until I was 10. *sigh*

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  • http://childwild.com Sierra

    welcome to parenting, my friend.

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  • http://childwild.com Sierra

    It's not clear to me that Rio knows what the word 'sex' means, so we're clear. She said the Barbies were, “rummaging around, being mean to each other and at the end there was a big tornado”. What does that mean?

    I'm pretty sure she understands the mechanics of where babies come from – we've covered that topic pretty thoroughly. But I don't know if she's associating that with the mean rummaging her dolls do.

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  • Rich Wilson

    I knew a pair of siblings about that age for whom 'sex' meant jumping up and down in the bath and yelling 'SEX!'

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  • cee

    I want to marry this entry and have its babies. I was simultaneously bursting out laughing and trying to memorize what to say to my daughter in a year or two.

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  • threerings

    Growing up in house in which porn was readily available, my barbies did all kinds of messed up sex stuff that I half understood. It's strange to think of how much kids DO know.

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  • http://meandwee.blogspot.com/ Megan

    Good point! I forget that just because kids play these games, it doesn't always mean they fully understand the details. I admire how you answered her questions and I would love to say the same sorts of things if I'm ever asked.

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  • pamelina

    Huh. Well parented. But she might know more about sex than you, or even she thinks. I remember learning to masterbate years before I was 5 years old–one of my earliest memories. I discovered it years before I knew what sex was. And I taught the neighborhood kids (girls like me) how to do it, too. Somehow I felt guilty and secretive about it, too, even though I didn't know anything about sex.

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  • http://twitter.com/becoming_mother Becoming a Mother

    I am so glad to have read this, because if ever I face a conversation like it, you've given me a lot of hints of how to approach it. (Although, unless/until we have another, it won't be the same, since my only kiddo is a boy. I'm sure there will be something, tho.)

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  • http://twitter.com/becoming_mother Becoming a Mother

    I am so glad to have read this, because if ever I face a conversation like it, you've given me a lot of hints of how to approach it. (Although, unless/until we have another, it won't be the same, since my only kiddo is a boy. I'm sure there will be something, tho.)

    [Reply]

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  • Ren

    Sierra — I read the edited version of this post on Motherlode blog. I was surprised that Lisa posted it, since you seem to “keep it real” and she a lot of times…doesn't. Anyway:

    I just wanted to give you a heads up on one thing that concerned me on this post. You told your daughter that “you can only play a sex game with other kids.” I'm sure that for the most part, that is harmless. But my husband was sexually abused as a child for many years by another child — one who was a few years older, and bigger, than he was. Apart from the guilt and shame he felt from the abuse generally, he felt doubly trapped and guilty because of the general perception that sexual abuse can only be perpetrated by adults. As a child, he felt like in some way he was allowing it to happen, or somehow wanted it, because after all, it was another child and couldn't be real abuse, right? It took him a lot of therapy as an adult to actually accept that everything that happened was not his fault and was in fact abuse, even though it was another child that did it to him.

    I just thought it was worth mentioning, because all child's play is not always innocent.

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  • http://childwild.com Sierra

    Credit where credit is due to Lisa: I sent her an edited version of this essay that was a lot less raw, and she chose to run something a lot closer to the original.

    The version she ran left out some more information about how to know when sex play between kids is innocent and when it's abusive. In this case, it was pretty much a textbook case of healthy play: the girls are best friends, whose parents know each other well (we have talked about this, and they're no longer allowed to play in either girl's bedroom with the doors closed, just in case). They're close to the same age, they were playing with dolls rather than each other's bodies and while they agreed this activity was a 'secret', it was one they cheerfully included both sets of parents in.

    Thank you so much for sharing your husband's story, and making this very important point. Not only are kids usually abused by people they know, but those people are often older kids. I myself was molested by an older teen when I was 12, and it took me YEARS to even be able to label that behavior as abuse because I didn't perceive the abuser as an adult – he was someone in my social circle.

    Which doesn't mean it wasn't unnerving for me, but it was also a blessed opportunity to talk openly with my daughter about sex and boundaries. And also, also, dead funny. “Rummaging around…and at the end there is a big tornado!” Still giggling over that one.

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  • http://www.ienvisionmedia.com SatyaColombo

    Wow — you are brave. I think I understand now why I really don't want to have kids yet, but that when the time comes it will probably be the most wonderful time of my life…!

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  • Cameron

    Heck, that qualifies as foreplay to me. (Though not with my sibling, I hasten to add.)

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  • http://www.transitantenna.com Samantha

    Hilarious!

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  • http://www.transitantenna.com Samantha

    Hilarious!

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  • hpretty

    YOur posts make me laugh out loud. Brilliantly written.

    http://marketingtomilk.wordpress.com

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  • Amber Cain

    This is so amazing, I called my mom and my mother-in-law and read them this! I can't believe how well you kept your cool and even thought to ask such intelligent questions and give such great responses to her questions! Kudos!!!

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  • James_Smith

    What did you do?!! Somehow, someway, you acquired a healthy attitude toward raising children and keeping them open and honest with you.

    How often are you attacked and vilified by the religious riech? Please stay sane and keep up the good work. YOU GO GIRL! :)

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  • Aislinn

    This is absolutely amazing. I am not a parent, nor close yet (I'm 23) but I do babysit a LOT and the kids have always been open with me, even to the point of my now solidly-teenage cousins talking to me about sex.
    This post was spectacular. I have had plenty of kids talk to me about naked Barbie sex…Ken has even been involved. It's nice to now have added something to my repertoire when the parents look at me, clearly panicking

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  • brianna

    hahhahahahahahhahahahhaahahahahahahahha lolollolololoolololololololololol

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  • Vanessa

    Wow. I suddenly feel extremely validated about my own five-year-old self playing naked barbie sex. My own mother didn't handle it with this much finesse, and I've always felt a little ashamed. I'm now 30 by the way.

    When I have a kid I want it to go like this.

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  • last american childhood

    This is so honest. I was just talking about this subject, kind of, with wildly differing views. I really think kids need to be allowed to explore and to know, like you wrote, that they can talk to us. It’s so weird how sort of important it is for them, along with frogs and trains and princesses, but then I guess it shouldn’t surprise us. Our culture is just so closed off, so squeamish about it at almost any age. Thanks for being so direct.

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  • Anonymous

    This is so honest. I was talking about this problem, in a sense, and the widely divergent opinions. I truly believe that children should be allowed to explore and learn, as you wrote, that they can talk with us. It ‘so strange, that it is important that along with frogs and trains, and princesses, but I think it should not surprise us. Our culture is so closed, so picky on almost all ages. Thank you so directly.

    Games for Adults

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  • Vecabi

    I agree with chip and cee, hilarious yet serious subject which you handled in a loving, fair and cautious manner.

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    Sierra Reply:

    thank you!

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  • McKenna Anderson

    sex baby lets talk about you & me

    [Reply]

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