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When I was a child, I would play with my neighbours every day after school. We were all girls. I was about six at the time and my neighbours six, eight and ten. Two of them were sisters.

Children. All of us were children. I remember I had just moved into the neighbourhood and these were the first friends to welcome me. Our parents had become friends. When they were busy working nine-to-fives, they were comforted by the fact that we had each other to play with in their absence. It’s a memory laced only with innocence.

It was just over a decade ago so the details come back to me in snapshots. In one of the early days, we assembled at the sisters’ house, as had become the norm. Their parents were at work. They set up their VCR and played a video they had found (I assume) in their parents’ room. For what must have been a few minutes, I watched two pale-white bodies on the screen, having sex.  Blame the desensitization but I don’t remember it being particularly explicit. To be honest, I barely remember my reaction.

I’m guessing, however, that I was fascinated. I was thrust into a world of activity that my parents had never mentioned. These two people on the television were doing what grown-ups do to make babies. That’s what my neighbours told me. Previously, I had believed that children came from the hospital but this new version of the story fit better with the stories I heard in the playground. I had no doubt about it. Instinctively, I knew not to tell anyone else what I had seen. There was something in the way the other girls acted that told me that this was a secret.

My neighbours and I played all the games that children in the townships play. We’d host mini-beauty pageants and play ball games. I had settled seamlessly into the neighbourhood. After we had all viewed the video, we started to play ‘House’. Kids naturally tend to imitate adults. However, after watching the video, our version of the game became far too realistic. To this day, I don’t know why we did it and I don’t remember how it started. All I know is that it was part of a thrilling routine.

After school, I would go over to their house and we’d play our version of house. There were many versions of our game and many were perfectly innocent. Sometimes we would get packets of NikNaks and have little ‘family’ lunches.  We would build pretend-rooms outside using scrap wood or bricks from the yard.  More often, though, we played inside the house.

The two youngest girls (including myself) would always be appointed to play the mother and father. Before the game began, we’d all walk around the street to find condoms which for some reason, was an incredibly easy task. We never had to walk very far to find new or old ones in bushes or along passages. We would return to the house with our finds and then we filled them with water or blew them up to use them as props. We’d go into one of the rooms in the house and proceed to play our game. It was a well-structured process where the ‘couple’ would come home to the children and then later ‘have sex’. The severity of what we were actually doing never dawned on any of us.

I do not know exactly how long we played the game but it must have gone on regularly for at least two or three years. Although we were never stopped, we were eventually caught. I remember the way adrenaline raced through my body when the door opened. I was lying on top of my friend, with our two counterparts beside us pretending to be the children. We shrugged our actions off convincingly. We were just children playing a game and no parent would assume that their child is playing that sort of game. They wouldn’t understand where their child learned such things and for that, I would never blame them.

imagesI reckon it stopped when we started becoming conscious of what we were doing. We gradually grew older, sprouting in separate directions. We spent less time together and when we did meet, all we did was watch soapies. Eventually, as we ventured in to high school we lost all contact and our only communication was the occasional wave through a car window or from behind a fence. We never discussed it. Our sexual interactions were archived alongside the other mundane parts of my childhood, next to recollections of losing teeth and buying new school shoes.

I rarely think about what happened now and even when I do, the memories are quickly overpowered by disbelief. Now that I live far away from home, I hardly ever have to think about it and if I do, it is to ask myself, “Did that really happen?” I know it was not just a dream. I still catch glimpses of the agony of the depressions I went through after I realized what we had been doing. The memories of the hypochondria that followed when I learned how STI’s were transmitted will never leave me.

It took many years for me to understand that what happened when I was a child does not have any bearings for my future. The difficulty was that there is no label for what happened and I had no framework to help me unpack what it meant. For many years, I was scared to tell anyone because I felt abnormal and ashamed. And one of the times when I told a close friend, her shock told me that it was wrong for me to traumatize others with my experience.

Eventually, I came to understood that there is no profound ‘reason’ that I spent my childhood this way. I learned not to blame myself or anyone else for it.  I only choose not to tell my parents because of the risk that they will blame themselves. There was no way for them to stop what was happening and with the wonderful life and love they have given me, I would never want them to feel a shred of guilt.

I struggle to find the ‘meaning’ behind this but at the same time. I know that it has left a footprint on my character. The only thing I can do with my story is share it and accept that it mine. It is the most human part of my experience, the permanent question mark in my life  story. Even if I do not ever tell my story to another soul, I will continue to wrestle through layers of my shame to claim it.

9 thoughts on “My first sexual experience

  1. thank you for sharing. you’re making me think, while I know there is so much confused morality that goes with an experience like this, combined with a childlike sensibility in the initial experience for me its also so true that my childhood is also filled with child sex play. Is it ‘normal’? is that important? perhaps all that there is is this adult reaching out to make sense of something… or perhaps its to honour the feeling of that age when it doesn’t feel like anything wrong? I don’t know, but you also made me remember some early age ‘innocent’ play as well as some teen and pre-teen not so innocent play. maybe that’s where I got my ‘I must have sex with you if you like me’ thing…. so provocative, thank you.

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  2. It happened to me exactly 20 years ago, and yet today is the first time I dared to search for anything related to the issue and found Your story. I can’t even start to fully express how thankful I am for Your desicion to pour it out. I was eight and my neighbor was nine, we engaged in our experience only once, for few hours, but I can’t help coming back to this point and thinking whether and how it has influenced my future sexual experiences and perceptions. If there’s any chance we could have some sort of discreet online conversation, I’d be happy to hear more of Your thoughts and share mine.

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  3. I don’t even know how I end up here, but wherever… the dramatic tone is overexagerated. Child sex play is just as normal as masturbation, is part of childrens curiousity and exploration. Most of the peoples have this experience in their childhood; you sexual act, or simply become aware and curious about your own sexuality, your friend do too, and you start to explore each other. In my case i had this sort of child play many times, with many girls, and even with boys (both sex play and group masturbation), and those experiences started long before even becoming aware of what sex is)… did it affect me as an adult? NO. Even trough I played with boys too (even trough I am a boy myself) I never had the slightless interest in males, so there was no negative effect. Almost everyone had those sort of experiences in their childhood, peoples who didn’t are very rare, is just that peoples don’t talk about it, simply because is not important as you think it is (it was just child play), or because is a little weird talking about your sexual experences as a child when you are an adult.
    Anyway, this is part of childhood, and there is no negative effect, you have nothing to be shamed about.

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  4. This type of play was very rare in my day if it happened at all. We were told where babies came from (mostly truthfully), and that mommy had a baby growing inside her. We just never were told HOW it got there. The most simplistic explanation was that daddy loves mommy and the parents took it from there.
    There were no video tapes or internet back then so we kept ourselves entertained by building forts and playing in tree houses and would put on towels as capes pretending to be the most common super heroes such as Super Man and Batman. We even made up one of our own and named him “strongy man,” who was stronger than Superman himself!
    Our imitation was of life itself. Who and what we saw around us. We played “house” as we observed it in our traditional homes: Mom, Dad, children. Whatever we saw, we copied from dad going off to work and mom staying at home with the children.
    The only times our play became sexual was when we’d play doctor and do what we would see done in a real doctor’s office including probing, rectal temperature taking and butt shots. Only when two of us (usually of opposite sex) would play would we go beyond that and explore other areas of our bodies that were different from our own. We never played naked since getting caught in this taboo activity would have carried dire consequences. Even when we played with only the necessary clothing removed from the area we were examining, we would be caught and could cover up our activity by popping up and covering ourselves while still mostly clothed. There would be some touching probing and massaging of certain body parts besides the usual activities I just mentioned. Years later, I was doing some research and discovered they called this “sexploriation.”
    When we played house, the only sexual part of the game was when we’d administer spankings to bare bottoms, since that is what happened to us. Those playing who weren’t spanked that way or at all would join in just for the experience and realized they enjoyed the “tingling feeling” they had inside by having their bare skin come into contact with that of another person (bare hand).
    I developed a real sense of sexual realization whenever my younger sister and I would play together. She’d talked me into playing house with her from an early age. I’d spank her dolls and she would watch with such interest that eventually, she would take the child’s place over my knee.
    In no time at all I was baring her bottom for spankings and we were both hooked from then on. However, she outgrew the desire to be over my knee with her bottom bared at around 8, when she was into more girly things. I never did outgrow my fetish for the bottoms of females and continued playing my games with classmates, cousins, and kids in the neighborhood.
    I know this all started with the spanking and doctor games I played with my sister. From time to time, my memory takes me back to those years. She and I are still quite close but neither of us ever bring up the past. Years later her daughter picked up the healthy interest and played with her little friends behind closed doors. She is now a brilliant student finishing college a year early. At 16 she took college courses to challenge herself. I have often pictured what went on behind those doors!

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  5. I like this story I read many stories but then I read this it touch my heart I feel its true and thanks for share with us I also this kind of experience with my neighborhood girls but I don’t have idea his to share but its sooo nice I like this story very much

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