Buying your toddlers their own bed is a sure-fire way to reboot your sex life. But does renewed intimacy have to include cologne, man-scaping and sexuality workshops?
We recently bought our kids a bunk bed. They love it. My son sleeps on the top like he’s the king of the mountain. My daughter likes how cozy the bottom feels. Me, I’m still getting used to it. Because of this new purchase, I’ve trimmed my chest hair.
What does my chest hair have to do with my kids’ bunk bed? Bear with me. It all has to do with the reclamation of our marital bed. For the past five years, the king-size bed in which my wife and I sleep has also contained at least one kid; for the past three years, it’s contained two. Whether you call it bed-sharing or co-sleeping, it did great things for our relationships with our kids. It was fun to wake up with them, and fun to fall asleep next to them. It did not do great things for our sex life.
The cottage we rented this summer had a bunk bed, which the kids tried out and decided they liked. Suddenly, they wanted one of their own. When we returned to Toronto, we embarked on a quest to ﬁnd them the perfect one. We went to Bunk House Kids at Avenue and Lawrence and were astonished that any business could succeed with such grumpy staff. We braved Ikea during the back-to-school-hell season of August. Finally, we chose Pottery Barn’s Camp Bunk Bed, which arrived the week before Labour Day. My son’s sheets have ferocious sharks on them; my daughter’s, pink princesses. They were so excited about the new beds they completely forgot to freak out about not sleeping next to us anymore.
My wife and I were a bit melancholy about the transition at first. One of my favourite things to do is read in bed with a kid next to me. One night, with my son asleep, I climbed up into his bunk and finished the last few pages of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.
But that melancholy soon took a back seat to the benefits of the new arrangement. A funny thing happens to a guy when he finds himself alone in bed next to his wife for the first time in years. He thinks about sex. Sex used to be something we shoehorned into weekend trips, or the rare times we were home alone while the kids were at school. Suddenly, it returned to being something that was possible every night. We started talking about it more. And how much fun it used to be. And we realized how little attention we had devoted to that department of our lives over the past five years.
Thus began the grand mission to reboot our sex life—a reboot that a lot of parents attempt, I hear, when their kids reach a certain age. My wife floated the crazy idea that we should make an effort to be more attractive for each other. “What if you wore some cologne?” she asked. Also, she said I needed some maintenance work, which she called “man-scaping.” Suddenly, it was bye-bye chest hair. But the worst part happened the Sunday morning after the bunk bed arrived. On her computer she showed me a list of sex classes—sorry, “sexuality workshops”—offered by the Harbord Street sex shop Good for Her, a list that included “Open Relationships for Everyday Folk” and “Kink 101.” Before I could really consider the implications, I’d agreed to “Spicing It Up: Hot, Sexy and Sustainable Relationships.”
Some days later, I’m sitting here without any chest hair, drenched in Eternity cologne, in the midst of a panic attack because whatever happens in this class, it’s certain to be embarrassing. I am 38 years old, and I still have trouble publicly uttering the word “penis.” I talked to one of my friends about the anxiety this class has induced in me and he shrugged. “You should relax,” he said. “If you’re so uptight then maybe this class is exactly what you need.” Which kind of brought things into perspective. Hmm. Maybe he’s right. Stay tuned.