Nick at Nite: An Unexpected Addition to my Son's Reproductive Education

A couple of weeks ago, my 13 year-old son and I had a conversation in the car after I had picked him up from school.  It went something like this:

“What Zach?”
“Does your period hurt?”
“Um, well some women get cramps during part or all of it and they can be really painful or just uncomfortable.  It’s not the same for everyone.”
“Well, do you get cramps?”
“Yup, usually just the first couple of days but they can be pretty terrible.”
“Oh mom!  That’s why I was asking, you don’t have to!”
“Have to what?”
“Your period doesn’t have to be painful and you can even make it go away so you don’t have to have one at all.  There is this pill you can take, I saw it on tv!”

He was genuinely thrilled.  Where did this boy come from?!  I don’t know, but I love him to death.  So I explained that I knew what he was talking about, that what he’d seen was an ad for a type of birth control pill, and yes, all the things they said were true but I can’t take them because I have high blood pressure.  Then I asked where he had seen this ad. 

“It was on a commercial when I was watching Everybody Hates Chris last night.”

Zach is very much in to some of the re-running shows on Nick at Nite right now so it’s essentially all he watches in the evenings once his homework is done. 

These kinds of out-of-nowhere questions from the back seat stopped surprising me years ago.  We spend a ton of time in the car every day, the boys are at different schools that are quite far apart so Zach and I have a lot of these “car conversations”.  They are often quite involved.  This particular one went well beyond what I have written here because my answers usually lead to more questions from him.  Which is great, I love that he feels comfortable enough talking to me to ask these things. 

A few days later, again from the back seat in the car, he asked a question that had occurred to him as a result of the conversation I just mentioned. 

“So, if you are pregnant and you don’t want a baby, do you just take the pill to make it stop?”

Whoa.  Well, there’s a big one.  I explained that that wasn’t what the pills he was talking about were for, though it might seem that way since they are called “birth control” but  that wasn’t how they worked.  I followed up with an explanation of how they do work.  Which led in to a discussion about abortion.  How anyone feels about it notwithstanding,  it exists, and I felt I owed it to him to talk about it from both sides, given the discussion we were already having.  I hadn’t ever really thought about talking to him about it or even a lot of this stuff when we had our “talk”.  Maybe because he’s a boy, I’m not sure, I just hadn’t felt like he needed all the in depth details about the female side of things, at least not at this stage of the game.  I gave him the essentials but that was it.  After these recent conversations though, I realized that was probably a mistake on my part.  What do I know?  He’s a boy.  But the more he knows now, should serve him well in the future.  Not just as far as reproduction goes, or more to the point, doesn’t go, but as far as women go.  The more a guy knows and understands about women and women’s issues the better, I’m thinking, so, this was good.  The fact that it all stemmed from a commercial he saw while watching Nick at Nite was somewhat amusing. 

It doesn’t end there.  Last week, he yells at me from the loft, “Mom, what’s ovulation?”  Ok, so, this is a conversation we are not going to have yelling at each other over a railing.  I head upstairs, sit down on the futon next to him.  “Didn’t we talk about that already? Thought I explained it to you before?” 
“I don’t remember.” 
“What brought this up?” 
“There was this commercial, something about predicting ovulation.”
“What are you watching?”
“George Lopez.”

There it was again.  Nick at Nite must have a predominantly female viewership is all I can figure between the birth control pill and ovulation predictor ads.  So, in an unusual non-car setting, we discussed ovulation.  Which of course led to more questions.  And more, and more, and more.  All said and done I believe we covered everything from a complete explanation of the menstrual cycle to condoms and even, as Zach calls it, the “m” word.  Zach looked a little dazed by the end of it.  These are all things we have touched on before but again, just basics, not terribly in depth.  I started laughing, “you asked!” 
“Yeah mom, but you went too deep... too DEEP!” 

I blame Nickelodeon.