'Mom, what is anal lube?': sex education in the Internet age

I suppress my sputtering, mostly, and mentally give the boy props for having learned enough social skills to have whispered "anal lube." Naturally the doctor's assistant comes to fetch us at just that instant.

Moments like these are clear reminders that one talk about "the birds and the bees," or even a health class on teen pregnancy and STDs, is no longer enough when it comes to educating our children about sex. Sexual content is liable to pop up anywhere, like the time my boy (then 9) found a link to the infamous "meatspin" video on a family forum. We can't escape the fact that our children will be exposed to every form of sexual expression online. As a parent who wants her kids to have the knowledge and skills to have happy, healthy, and pleasurable sexual relationships as adults, I use these incidents to talk about sex. I'd rather my child feel comfortable asking me about anal lube than have to look for the answer online. But this sure can lead to some interesting conversations.

As soon as we're alone in the exam room I carefully broach the subject again. "So, I bet you're wondering what anal lube is, eh?"

"YES!" he responds emphatically.

"Well, you know what your anus is right?"

At this he jumps out of his chair, spins around, and points to the middle of his ass.

"Ok son, you could have just said 'my butthole.' You didn't have to show it to me. But yeah, your anus is your butthole."

"Oh, ok." He sits back down just in time; the doctor knocks and the subject is changed.

In the car on the way home I bring up the subject once again.

"Ok, so you know that 'anal' refers to your anus and 'lube' is short for lubricant," I say. "Do you know what lubricant is?"

He ponders this for a moment and says "Yes, I think so."

I can see that this is one of those kid-yeses that means 'not really, but I don't want to admit it.'

"Lubricant is stuff that's used to make things slippery, so they slide around easier with less friction. So what do you think anal lube might be used for?"

I was anticipating something like 'to lubricate your anus' as an answer, so I can't help another snort of laughter when he says, "People put it on their butt to help their poo come out."

"Well yes, sometimes people might have problems with being constipated or something like that and then they might use a lubricant to help their poop come out easier. But MOSTLY what people use anal lube for is when they're sticking things IN their butts. Which is something people do sometimes when they're having sex."

"Oh" is all he says, but the expression on his face speaks volumes. This is a boy who's had a long history of putting things up his butt; he is clearly blown away by the idea that other people like to do the same thing and that there are special products for this purpose.

There's a few seconds of silence while I let this sink in and wait for his response, and also while I frantically figure out how to impart the all-important safety information.

"But you need to be very, VERY careful about what you put in your butt," I finally say. "It can be really dangerous!"

At this point my son blurts out, "I lost a magnet in my butt."

Oh. Holy. Fuck. Now I'm poised between parental panic and laughing my ass off. I reply with careful calmness "Really? When? Was this recently?"

"No, it was when I was like five-years-old."

WHEW. No need to head for the emergency room; surely that magnet has exited his digestive tract sometime in the last six years.

"Well," I say, "I guess you know how important it is to be careful then."

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click to enlarge Joslyn James: One of your kid's new online sex ed teachers - Naughty America
Naughty America
Joslyn James: One of your kid's new online sex ed teachers

click to enlarge Joslyn James: One of your kid's new online sex ed teachers - Naughty America
Naughty America
Joslyn James: One of your kid's new online sex ed teachers
  • Naughty America
  • Joslyn James: One of your kid's new online sex ed teachers

"I saw this video on YouTube," aspie boy says as we're sitting in the optometrist's office, waiting for his appointment. "It was like a mash-up of Spongebob Squarepants and some porn thing."

"Oh really?" I say, aiming for parental coolness though he has my total attention. "Tell me about it."

"They took a whole episode of Spongebob and they left most of the words in, but took some of them out and put porn words in instead. And it made it like the episode was one big fight about..." At this point he leans in very close to my ear and whispers "anal lube!"

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