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The Body Song

This past week, I had the privilege of introducing my family to Paddy and Carole Ducklow.  Back in the 60’s, when my parents left Texas to move up to Canada, Dad met Paddy in graduate school and they began a life-long friendship. My father wrote his first book in the basement of their home. He logged countless hours sitting out on their deck drinking beer and debating life, the universe and everything. Paddy flew to Texas to attend his funeral.

As a child, I have many memories of the Ducklow’s being a part of our lives. Even when the two men were living in different parts of the Lower Mainland, they always stayed connected. And then, several years before our family returned to Texas, they worked together at Burnaby Christian Fellowship. Dad was senior pastor, and Paddy was on staff as the church psychologist who ran a practice in the church.

One of the programs that they collaborated on during this time was a seminar to teach kids and their parents about the concept of “appropriate touch”. The kids and parents were split into different rooms and taught about issues surrounding personal boundaries, safety and communication. I was one of those kids, and my favourite part of the whole seminar was learning the song, My Body by Peter Alsop (which was thereinafter referred to by us simply as “the body song”).

Fast-forward 20+ years. My family is driving to the Ducklow’s house for the first time and I am explaining to my daughter about the importance of this family in my life. Having a vague memory of the body song, I decided that it would be spectacularly impressive if I could teach it to my daughter to sing for Paddy over dinner. Riley was very much into this idea (life is, after all, a musical for her) and enthusiastically embraced the task. The more we sang it, the more furrowed my husband’s brow became. He finally cleared his throat and said, “Uh, honey? I think you are not remembering that song right. I am pretty sure that’s not how it goes.” I pooh-poohed his concerns and, undaunted, Riley and I sang the song a few more times – to ensure that she really knew it.

When we arrived at Ducklow’s, the conversation inevitably turned to the body song. Actually, Eric brought it up because he was so smug in his assumption that I had the words wrong and thought it would be hilarious to see Paddy’s reaction. I was hesitant because I had an ever-growing suspicion that Eric was, unfortunately, right. Eventually, he coaxed Riley and me into singing it together.  So, in a vain attempt to prove that I was correct (or more that he was wrong) I belted out with great gusto:

My body’s nobody’s body but mine.

You touch your own body,

Let me touch mine.

There was an eerie silence that fell over the room for what was only a moment but felt like eternity.  Then the room erupted!  I thought Paddy was going to fall off the couch laughing. He fell to the side and buried his face in a pillow as he howled in laughter.  It was suddenly inherently obvious to me that I had turned a song on appropriate touch into one on mutual masturbation.

***Epic FAIL***

Later in the evening, Paddy and Riley went to the computer and drudged up the words to this 1980’s song. Thank goodness for Google!

The true version of the body song can be found here and goes like this:

My body’s nobody’s body but mine.

You run your own body,

Let me run mine.

I will admit that the correct one is a much better version for Riley to be singing out in public.  But as I am not one to be easily dismayed, I will brazenly confess that personally prefer my version…even if you’ll never hear me sing it aloud ever again.

So inn the midst of all of this personal humiliation, I figured that I should try to redeem myself by unabashedly sharing the story with everyone and using it as a teaching tool to help parents talk with their children.

Eric, however, is still laughing.

Flicking the Bean

A week later, I am still quoting The Ugly Truth to anyone who will listen to me. Friends have heard the run-down and I have giggled with women at parties about it. In fact, I even found myself sharing a scene from the movie during a coaching session with a client.

In this scene, the leading man asks the leading lady how often she “flicks the bean”. She is horrified and tells him that she doesn’t do that. He responds, “If you don’t even want to have sex with you, what makes you think that he will want to have sex with you?”

Controversial? Maybe.

Crass? Probably.

Thought provoking? Definitely.

Here is what I have found in my coaching business. Women who refuse to touch themselves as they are growing up have much more difficulty in their sex lives than women who masturbated before marriage. Why? Because prior to their sexual relationship, women in the former group (Group One) don’t have a clue what turns them on, what type of touch they enjoy, and what brings them to orgasm. Women in the latter group (Group Two), by contrast, are experts on their own bodies before a man enters the picture.

Granted, there are definitely couples who successfully navigate the Group One’s lack of experimentation. They typically have excellent communication skills, a shared sense of adventure and a lot of self-confidence going into their relationship. They understand that they will be figuring this stuff out together and are not embarrassed to make a lot of mistakes along the way.

Most couples, however, don’t get that far. A woman who has never given herself permission to explore her own body might also be terribly intimidated to talk about the ins and outs (pun intended) of sex. If she doesn’t have a community around her which is helping her find the words to communicate her desires effectively to her husband, and if he is just as lost as she is, then their relationship will slowly spiral downwards. Pleasure for her becomes allusive or utterly absent and the desire for sex tapers off as the years go on. And if you have paid attention to my writings on sexless or sex-starved marriages, you know that this can have serious ramifications on their marriage. (http://erynfaye.com/oh-me-so-horny/)

Even if women in Group Two struggle with their communication (and let me say that talking about sex with our lover can be intimidating for the most knowledgeable of us), they at least know what works. This gives them a basis upon which they can nudge him in the right direction, drop hints, or even allow their husbands to watch and learn. These women have a target which is clearly defined; they have success in hitting that target, and just have to work towards training their husbands to hit it. The barriers to them experiencing pleasure in their relationship are not as numerous.

Are there parameters that I personally put on the masturbation exploration? Yes. I am not a huge fan of a woman (or a man for that matter) using porn to arouse themselves. I have seen far too many couples slide into an unhealthy need (some would even use the word addiction) for porn. I am a big believer that there are lots of other ways you can become aroused without the use of this risky behaviour.

However, outside of this little restriction, my advice is or those of you who want to figure things out, you have my permission: Go flick the bean.

Talking to my 5 year old…

Dear Eryn-Faye,

I really appreciate your what you are offering couples, families and individuals.

My wife and I are looking for some ideas/ advice about how to talk to our daughter.

She is 5 years old and for about 2 years (since she was about 3) we have noticed at times when she is bored/ alone in her room (as she has a younger brother who is 2 years younger), she “humps” her pillow or teddy bear. At first we thought nothing of it, and then we noticed that she would get quite red in the cheeks and was quite worked up. When we inquired what she was doing, she said it felt good. Understanding a bit about the way we’re built, we could see she was stimulating herself, and it felt good. This behavior has seemed to decrease (maybe we see her doing it once a month), but is still consistent to when she is in her room and “bored.”

I know there may be many thoughts on masturbation (which this might be defined as, but I would probably lean toward the definition of self-exploration, as she’s only 5).

So I struggle with dealing with her behavior or trying to figure out what to say, without making her think that her sexual feelings are bad (which I’m sure she doesn’t think these are sexual feelings).

How do we as a couple talk address this issue with her?

Advice? Books to read?

Allow me to say that I appreciate that you have decided to write, because it demonstrates that you are taking your role as a parent very seriously!

You have a wonderful opening to speak with your daughter about healthy sexuality. These conversations should take place throughout the rearing of the child in an age-appropriate manner, beginning with basic knowledge such as the proper names for anatomy and going from there. Most experts will tell us that if you have not initiated the concept of sexuality to your kids early on, they will hear about it on the playground from other children (albeit a very convoluted version). Proactive parents will take control of the message so that this topic is accurately presented to their children. I believe that, as parents, we have an amazing message to communicate to our children about how we were made.

The body is a magnificent design, and it is understandable and natural that we want to explore it. It is very common for little girls to “hump” things. I had one coaching client relay to me that her (probably very embarrassed) parents had to drag her out of church one day because she wouldn’t stop humping the church pew! (I bet you are breathing a sigh of relief right now that you aren’t dealing with that one!)  But I tell that anecdote mainly to let you know that your daughter is completely normal and that this is fairly ordinary behaviour.  We simply don’t talk about it publicly too often which can lead to concerns such as what you have.

As far as things you can do as a parent, considering your daughter’s age, you can explain that it is acceptable for her to explore in private but not in public. We use this same reasoning when we explain why we cover the areas of a bathing suit because these are the parts of our bodies that belong only to us and need to be kept private (understanding, of course, that mommy and daddy and doctors might touch those areas for health/hygiene reasons). Not only are you able to set the foundation for a series of conversations about sexuality and create a sense of openness about this topic but you will also be setting the groundwork for appropriate touch and “stranger-danger” conversations with your daughter.

I would also recommend that you and your wife construct your answer to THE QUESTION right now. (Meaning, “Where do babies come from?” or “What is sex?”) Decide together what you are going to say, and practice it together if this makes you more comfortable. At your daughter’s age, it is best to keep your answer simple, and having a book to illustrate your conversation is extremely helpful especially if some (or all) of these terms are new to your daughter.  Amazing You! Getting Smart about Your Private Parts by Gail Saltz and Lynne Avril Cravath is an excellent resource for your daughter’s age.  You can find it on Amazon here.

And the website Talking with Kids has some helpful hints on these discussions as well.

As a parent myself, I want to encourage you again.  Your desire to be proactive in your daughter’s life is exceptional.  Taking the time to ask questions -even when they are seen as “awkward” – is indicative of how seriously you take your parenting duties.  You have my deepest respect.  I wish that all parents were so willing to seek help and advice.

I hope you find these resources helpful! If you have any further questions or feedback for other parents, please feel free to write back at any time!

Warmly,
Eryn-Faye, Passion Coach