I have experienced some internal squirming when Lena has brought up the topic of bondage. Like many kids, she’s really sensitive to her mother’s body language–so, I’m sure she’s noticed, in spite of my best efforts to conceal my discomposure.
The only way I could have hidden that from her, I’m convinced, would have been to keep that “inappropriate discussion” off-limits. I know myself well enough to know that.
All parents are adept at drawing those kinds of boundaries under the hale banner of propriety. We set them consciously and unconsciously, sometimes wisely and sometimes out of shame. Once we do, though, the boundaries take on a life of their own, rife with messages that penetrate slyly, deeply. Boundaries drawn out of shame are insidious that way.
Would I have felt like squirming (so to speak) if my own daughter’s sexuality hadn’t been involved? Whatever the answer to that may be, I doubt that she understands the subtle distinctions that might be possible. I resolve not to cordon off that topic and let her speak her mind. In so doing I expose a part of myself–something unresolved and awkward, that I now have to deal with.
Lena sees only the surface ripples of my discomfort, not what is fomenting them. Not that I’m entirely sure what foments them myself. So, here we are: Lena changes the world by starting with me.
I’ve been on the receiving end of several concise homilies about bondage from Lena, cut short by my own awkwardness rather than by a lack of passion on her part. I’ve heard about how one shouldn’t be taken in by stereotypes and conventional judgments. About what bondage really could or even ought to be for it to provide sustenance, as Lena believes sexual acts should.
Lena just feels driven to be educating everyone about every angle of sex. She just wants to alter the world’s sexual pH in the direction of optimal health, much as others are driven to find a cure for seemingly intractable diseases. But I also think Lena lectures me because she just wants to make sure that whatever she decides to do in her life, her mother will be okay with it, and will still love and approve of her.
This is so much like all the other areas of our relationship, but it’s so easy to forget that.