Sleeping in a tent in the backyard with my cousin Byron the summer I was 8 years old resulted in my first overtly sexual experiences with another person. I had played doctor with both boys and girls, and as a young child I had also had first-rate sex education from my mother.
I should tell about that. One day I came in from playing (the two boys next door were total delinquents) and asked my mom what "fuck" meant. I was 5. Her response was pretty sensible. "That's a word you should be careful with, I think," she said. "It's not a nice word, but it's about something that's important and beautiful. When you're older you'll understand more about it." That was enough.
Later the same year, she was quite noticeably pregnant. I asked about that. "Mommy, why is your belly getting so big?" "Because I'm going to have a baby, and you will have a brother or another sister when it is born." "Ugh, I don't want another sister, that's for sure! But how did the baby get in your belly? Did you have to swallow a seed?" (If only I could have known then what I was saying!)
"No," she said, "the seed came from your dad and me." "How?" "We made love, which puts his seed with mine, and when you're older you'll know more about that." "Oh." She was right, of course: when I was older, I knew more about that, lots more.
To come back to the Byron story, I didn't yet fully connect up all the parts of what I knew, but I knew that certain things felt really good, and that if you kept at it long enough, it would feel really good for a short time: orgasm but no ejaculation, in other words. Well, no reason not to show Byron about this fun thing, I thought. He liked it too, and on successive occasions we continued to experiment with additional ways one might, um, arrange things. It goes without saying that we managed to figure out nearly all the mechanics of the matter, what would work where and how.
I really don't think one should call this "having sex." It was certainly sexual in the genital sense. But as far as I can recall, it was a purely physical thing for us both. It felt good for the body, in the body as a whole. Having sex, I think, involves more than that, with emotional and psychological components and an imaginative repertory not quite within the ken of an 8-year-old. But I had the basic technique pretty well down when such imaginings did arrive, as inevitably they would.