Privacy, Please

What do you tell a 4-year-old after she busts in on you when you're having sex?
girl pushing open a door

The important thing to know is that we are not sex addicts.

We are not cavalier about where or when we engage in sexual congress.

We have a door on our bedroom and we do, on occasion, close it. That said, let me try to set the stage for a night when our door was slightly ajar.

It was around 9 P.M. I'd been cuddling with my then 4-year-old daughter, having just read her a bedtime story. It's a lovely ritual that brings the day to a close in a warm, cozy fashion; in fact, nine times out of ten I pass out in her bed only to wake up sometime around 1 A.M. with the hardback version of Goodnight Moon splayed across my face and a Barbie-shaped dent in my shoulder. Most nights I stumble bleary-eyed out of her room like some sorority girl doing the walk of shame out of a frat house. Other nights my husband will rouse me and lead me back to our bedroom, sparing me permanent damage to my face and back.

On this night I awoke to his giving me a gentle shake/shove. When I staggered dead-eyed into the bedroom, he gave me a come-hither glance and whispered sweet nothings to me: "Wanna do some (euphemism for intercourse)-ing?"

It was no wonder he'd gotten turned on -- I was wearing my third-most flattering yoga pants and a T-shirt/sports-bra combo that squishes my breasts together into one long, ready-for-anything uniboob.

I shook the cobwebs from my head like a Looney Tunes cartoon character, then responded to his offer by purring, "Y'aright, let's go."

We commenced our foreplay routine. On that night we decided to go with #4A, though we did shake it up with a few added elements. Fast-forward maybe 12 minutes or so -- I'll spare you specifics, though I will say that my thigh muscles were being worked to capacity and that I was making good use of my balancing skills, while my husband was exercising his neck muscles and his ability to hyperextend his elbows.

Things were progressing fairly well and we were both poised to "complete our task," you might say, when I happened to turn my head and see our child standing at the bedroom door, rubbing her sleepy eyes.

"Momma?"

My husband and I froze for a split second before uncoupling with the force of a gasoline explosion. He somersaulted into a pile of laundry only to emerge fully clothed, wrapped in a pillowcase, my yoga pants, and a "Got Milk" baseball cap. I stood there, nude (save for socks; it was November in Chicago -- don't judge), babbling incoherently, and wondering if we'd just scarred our child for life.

Suddenly, the kid emitted a gleeful shriek, ran to the bed, climbed up onto it, and began jumping.

"Bounce time!" she squealed. "Bounce time!"

Clearly she was not disturbed by what she had seen. If anything, she was in a state of pure delight, having gleaned that we were in the middle of some hilariously fun, bouncy party game, and she wanted in on it too.

It took some delicate wrangling -- underscored by my saying "no" in every tone imaginable -- but I was finally able to usher my daughter into her own room for the night.

My husband and I crawled back into bed. By that point we were both too tired and too disturbed to even consider resuming our previously scheduled activities.

Several nights later, now mostly healed of the mortification, we endeavored to finish what we had started. This time we closed the door and were taking a no-nonsense, almost surgical approach to the finish line when I heard a slow click, looked up, and saw my kid standing in the doorway. This time she was holding an armful of dolls and giggling in a high creepy voice that, in movies, usually signals the arrival of the Antichrist.

It was even more shocking the second time around. It was as though she had developed some sort of pervy sixth sense that, combined with her 4-year-old fighting weight (which meant she was not quite heavy enough to make the floors creak), allowed her to simply materialize like the sex-murdering specter that she was.

One week later, we installed a lock on the door. It seemed a perfect solution -- and it was, in that it kept her out of eyeball's reach. But it also prompted her to sit outside our door and wail -- and FYI, it is darn near impossible to achieve any sense of "closure" when someone is pounding her tiny fists on your bedroom door and yelling, "No bounce! No bounce!"

Concerned that, were we to allow this to continue, my husband would suffer from permanent blue ballage, we realized that the time had come for us to have a conversation about privacy. I would take the lead, and he would stand by to add color commentary on an as-needed basis.

How to Establish a Bedtime Routine
How to Establish a Bedtime Routine

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