Sunday, 18 November 2007

Parental nightmare

This week one of my worst fears as a parent was confirmed.

My teenage daughter and I have always had a very open relationship with regards to discussing matters sexual. I am extremely proud of that. She can and does ask me anything that she is unsure of and I will answer as honestly as I can and display absolutely nothing judgemental in that explanation.

From the age of 10, when she first asked about condoms, I have stressed repeatedly that they are to be worn at all times when involved in a sexual situation. I worked on the basis that if a handsome young man plied her with alcohol and then tried to persuade her that he would still love her in the morning, even in her drunken stupor, she would still have me sitting on her shoulder hissing 'If you have unprotected sex, you will get AIDS and you will diiiiiiiiiiie. Use a condom!'

And yet, she revealed this week that she had been to the Family Planning to have something checked out. They have told her that the burning when she passes urine is not an STI but, more likely, a case of cystitis - a condition to which she has been prone since she was a small child. On learning of this, I immediately plied her with my sovereign cystitis remedy - a pint of water with a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in it and reassured her that the problem could be cured within the day, without recourse to the doctor or nasty-tasting and hard-to-swallow antibiotics, if she drank this concoction on a regular basis.

I then proceeded to tell her the Golden Rules of the next few days. No drinks containing caffeine, other than very weak tea. No acidic fruit juices. Lots of water and cranberry juice. But, more importantly, no sex and no vibrators. She looked at me curiously. Yes, cystitis can be brought on by over-enthusiastic masturbation or copulation.

'Well,' she informed me, laughing excitedly. '***** did have a very big dong!'

Yes, I had to try very hard not to pull that face too!

***** is a name that I have not heard mentioned before. I was aware that she had been having sex with her previous boyfriend of six months and of that relationship's demise... but knew nothing about this chap.

As the day wore on, the questions started to formulate in my head. Who was this guy? Why was she going to the Family Planning to get something looked at, rather than mentioning it to me first. I know that she went to them for contraception - the Pill AND condoms - she discussed it with me before she went.

Slowly, the realisation dawned and, the next time we were on our own, I asked her. 'Did you think that you had an STI because you had had unprotected sex with *****?' My heart just sank when she gave an affirmative answer.

I am quite devastated to be honest. All those years of trying to drive the message of safe sex home in as many different ways as I could, telling her where my condoms were kept, even offering to buy her her own supply. All that for nothing because she has still played Russian Roulette with her life and is now telling me not to fuss.

Apparently, she had used a new purse and had forgotten to transfer the condom she usually kept with her and yet, despite all my warnings, she went ahead and had intercourse anyway. I told her that in some ways it would have been better to give him a blowjob - certainly there were still risks through swallowing but nowhere near the exposure of full-on unprotected sex.

I tried to assess the damage by asking pertinent questions about her knowledge of his sexual behaviour but she refused to answer and by keeping on I would have just made matters worse in terms of her telling me things in the future.

So, I just said that for peace of mind (for both of us), perhaps she should go back to the Family Planning in three months and ask for an HIV test. I know that it takes this long for the antibodies to be present in any blood sample so to have one done now would be pointless. If she did turn out to be positive, it would be better to know sooner rather than later so that any treatments could be commenced immediately.

My daughter has always been very feisty and dumped her recent longterm boyfriend because he admitted that he had feelings for someone else and was torn between my teen and the other girl. Basically, she told him that if he felt he had to make a choice, then she would make it for him and he could f*** right off! Go, teen, go!

So, I'm not sure that I need to talk to her about not feeling obliged/needing to have sex with any young man who shows an interest because I don't think she does. I think she places quite a high value on herself. Up until now, I have always been pragmatic about her attitude to sex and have never said 'Don't do it', rather 'Do it if you feel you want to do it because you care about someone and you would enjoy doing it with him/her, but always do it SAFELY'. I wanted her to feel empowered rather than inhibited by her sexuality.

I can only hope that this will be a one-off and that she will ensure possession and use of a condom at all times in the future... and I can only pray that the outcome of the test will prove to be negative.


Vi vi vi vooom!!!!!!!! said...

You've tried your best. But just remember, what it's like. As you do not use condoms yourself (I know you have a reaction to them) but we do slip up. Christ I had a massive session last night/this morn, but we actually only used two condoms. It's good that she went to the clinic, because at least she'll know if she's clean so she can continue on without using them with him (if he doesn't shag anyone esles!)

Menopauseprincess said...

I can imagine your worry and concern, sounds like you've gone a very long way towards keeping the lines of communication open between you and your daughter.

Not to add extra worry, but your girl should be tested for Hepatitis B and C, unless she's beem vaccinated against B already. There is no vaccine for C and both can be transmitted sexually and can be as dangerous as HIV.

Z said...

Have a hug, Cake. The little beasts do tend to do things that defy our best teaching, at times.

Redhead Editor said...

You an amazing mom. I dropped my daughter off to get her bike and watched her ride off without wearing her helmet. The very helmet I bought her and insisted she wear if she was going to bike around campus. And the very helmet she has heard me lecture about since she could ride a tricycle. The very helmet that prevents injuries that I showed her from my medical textbooks. I wanted to ring her little neck... making her need the helmet for more than just that bike. We can do just so much, and you have done an amazing amount to get this far, as safe as you can make her without holding her hand IN the bed (or me on the bike with my kid). I agree with menopauseprincess. There's more than just HIV to be tested for. There's Hep (if she hasn't had the vaccine) and others that I will e-mail you about. Maybe this is the scare she needed never to do this again, and, hopefully, she will come out unscathed. You did the best you could.

As I tell kids in my presentations, there will always be great sex and bad sex, and so-so sex, but there will never be any sex worth dying for.

wunelle said...

I'm a new reader, so maybe there are things you've discussed elsewhere.

But you seem to have done every good and wise thing by your daughter, and she is taking control of her life and behavior by way of your good and brave example.

Mistakes and bad judgments are a part of growing up, of life. I'd put money that--bad a choice as this one of hers was--it's an aberration.

(But it's still excellent that you're talking about that, too.)

Veiled Secrets said...

You can tell them and tell them but they will always learn the hard way, seems she had her little scare so she will think harder the next time.
No one can be to careful these days, though I recall myself having a very ~thinks~ hot and brainless moment with someone I know, damn was it a warm passionate night ~drifts back to that night~ oh I got to go, need to take care of something! ~grins~
Keep up the good work and hammering these important things into her head!

Guilty Secret said...

What a nightmare! I guess it just shows no matter how good a parent you are when it comes to these things (and I think you are a fantastic one!) you just can't make your kids play safe.

Hopefully once she's experienced a full sexual health check, which isn't much fun, she'll think more seriously next time!

Dee said...

My biggest fear with my teenage daughter. I preach and preach the safe sex to her and remind her that even being on the pill still means she must use a condom...Pills dont protect from disease.
You are doing a great job! Keep up the great communication!

BenefitScroungingScum said...

In the end the only way we can really learn is by making our own sounds like you've got an amazing relationship with your daughter, and that she's a remarkably sensible young woman taking herself straight off to be checked like that, you've obviously done a great job. Hugs, BG x

Effortlessly Average said...

I suppose we're all the same in that sense when we're teenagers:

1) every problem we face couldn't possibly have been faced by our parents.

2) any "potential" consequence of actions will be easily avoided.

3) the serious shit "will never happen to me."

Sounds to me like you've done what you can; the rest, life will teach her. Still, I'm not looking forward to the same realizatin in my own tween.

Luka said...

We all make retrospectively stupid decisions in the heat of passion and we all have to make them for ourselves.

Try not to panic unduly. Statistically the chances of her having caught anything life threatening are very small.

having my cake said...

Vi, I was feeling quite hypocritical when I gave the lecture but I dont want her to learn the hard way.

Menopauseprincess, I have spoken to her again since and they have not actually checked her for any infections yet because the antibodies will not show. She has to go back in three weeks or so. I am going to the clinic myself tomorrow to get my IUD checked so I will ask them to advise me on what tests are carried out on girls who have unprotected sex and also for their advice on the way forward. All in general terms of course because I know they wont discuss her specifically.

Z, Thanks x

RHE - I really must try to remember that last line cos that's a cracker.

Wunelle - Hello, Welcome and Thank you for your kind words.

having my cake said...

Veiled Secrets - Thanks for stopping by. As you and Vi have both said, I know what it's like to get lost in the passion - that's why I havent read her the riot act as such...

Guilty Secret - Another new secret :) Im thinking the full health check will give her food for thought for the future too :)

Hello Dee, When she said she wanted to go on the Pill, I was concerned, but she stressed that it would be in conjunction with condoms as well. Very belt and braces and very responsible.

BG, I am very proud of her :)

Effortlessly Average - Welcome and thanks for reminding me of how they view things. I can remember feeling similarly at that age :)

Luka, I am strangely calm... and those statistics are what Im holding on to x

Waynecoff said...

scary stuff, got all this to come.
I hate wearing them but if you don't know someone, your taking a big chance.

Fat Controller said...

I think it's amazing that you have such a relationship with your daughter that you can have a frank conversation like that. Let's hope it's just a scare and that she's learned her lesson.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

How are things now? Thinking of you x

Anonymous said...

I can sympathise because I put my parents through the same worry. (Thankfully I got it all checked out and everything was okay, but still, it was very STUPID and the excuses are always poor.) Hopefully the shock of not using a condom once will make her more aware about always using one in the future. It did for me, at least.