Dad, What’s A Condom?

Check out my latest piece on nuance! Excerpt below; for full text, hit the link.

Children’s sexual subjectivity matters. Why are we so scared to talk about it?

Dad What's A Condom

Artwork by Maia Boakye; follow her at

“Dad, what’s a condom?” I walked into the small living room of our Scarborough apartment, nine years of nonchalance in my voice. Mom was leaning on the couch behind him. Both of them were watching TV, when they turned to look at me, dumbfounded that their daughter in grade 4 was asking them this.

“Where did you hear about this?” Mom asked, carefully.

“Oh some of the older kids were talking to each other about how they found one in the field,” I said, casually.

“What field?” Dad asked. In retrospect, their relative calm must have taken enormous inner strength.

“The fieeeeld,” I said, instantly exasperated. “Like, the soccer field — for recess? At school.”

After a short pause, Dad said, “It’s a type of apartment building — like a flat, like the one we had in Delhi, where it was ours because we bought it, instead of renting. You know how we’re moving to a house next year, right? So just like that — these kids must have been talking about a condominium near the school that their family is moving to.”

“Oh ok,” I said, returning to my room.

My little experiment had provided me with an answer and a feeling of prepubescent triumph in having uncovered that my parents were not always honest. My parents had just lied to my face to avoid a conversation about sex, condoms, protection, and intercourse. They were not infallible. I could catch them off guard, and indeed just had.

The next day at school, I told a classmate his parents had definitely had sex.

“No they didn’t!” He said, vehemently shaking his head.

“Yes they did. They so did. It’s how you make babies,” I said confidently, peering up from the Robert Cormier novel I was reading.

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