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Tweens & the Sex Talk

Photograph by Getty Images

Before the twins started middle school, I had a talk with them about their menstrual cycles. They nodded blankly until I made them repeat back the data. They seemed so bored, young and innocent.

A neighbor mom with a daughter the same age told me that she just handed her kid a sex book and told her to let her know if she had any questions. Adding, "She's smart. She'll get it." The thought of leaving such important topics to a book instead of actual conversations made me cringe.

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On the opposite side, too many sex talks can create a TMI environment where nothing is treasured. I grew up in an urban household, and my cousins were early sex educators. At 13, I knew about money troubles, police troubles and boy troubles. I do not want my tweens' sexuality to be rushed.

But I want them to be prepared instead of surprised when romantic- or hormone-driven urges creep up on them. After all, it only takes a few seconds behind the bleachers to make a grandma. I try to find moments spread across months to check in on their growing breast, new acne, and boys.

It is my responsibility to figure out where their minds and bodies are on this puberty spectrum.

While dropping the twins off at school, I asked casually, "So, does anyone have a boyfriend or girlfriend yet?"

Hailey replied, "It's not that kind of year."

I breathed a sigh of relief. I hope that they get to transition from 11 to 12 without crushes and dating pressures. I pushed a little more. It is my responsibility to figure out where their minds and bodies are on this puberty spectrum. I asked them how it would make them feel them feel if someone liked them: "Like, liked you," I emphasized.

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This time, Audrey answered, "Awkward. Gross. Creepy."

I looked them in the eye and believed that they were telling the truth. They are focused on sports, school and fun. For now, fun is not defined by dating. That is great. I can stop picturing the worst—blowjobs in school bathrooms. Even though the twins are sliding through tweenhood to womanhood faster than I could imagine, today, they are still mesmerized by LEGOs and cartoons.

Before I unlocked the doors to let them exit my car, I looked at them and said, "One day, someone liking you is going to go from being creepy to exciting. When it does, call me."

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