My phone pinged with a new message, "Mum, the doctor thinks it’s herpes and she did this really painful test on me and now I have to wait for the results and take medication."
My response, "Oh, okay, do you want me to pick you up?"
My internal thought process: Genital herpes? At 18 years old? How can this be? She broke up with her boyfriend nine months ago? Is that how long it takes herpes to manifest?
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Oh. She’s had sex since then. With someone else.
I know I don’t have a right to know about her private life, but I’m a bit shocked.
Oh, she had casual sex. I thought they taught her about this at school? I should be more sex positive! But I AM sex positive.
With other people’s kids. My daughter is precious. I only ate organic meat during pregnancy. I put sunscreen on her perfect skin. I drove her everywhere. I bought her the right sneakers for the right sport. I spoke openly about the world.
And now she’s independent, and some callous jerk has infected her. My perfect, precious child.
Is it my fault? Should I have withheld showing her the condom on a banana a few years ago? Did I inadvertently normalise casual sex?
When I was a teenager, Dolly Magazine ran articles debating whether girls should wait until marriage before having sex. Why has this been replaced by boys who expect oral sex upon meeting?
This parenting gig is too hard. I’m going to lock her up forever to keep her safe. But she’s so sensible. And she’s studying health science, for God’s sake. Maybe I shouldn’t have agreed to put her on the pill at 17. I bet she didn’t use a condom. Why would you use a condom if you’re on the pill? But her period was so painful. She needed the pill.