My mother is not a great communicator,
especially when it comes to emotional issues.
I remember calling her from University, distressed that a friend had died,
and her response was "Well, that's not very good, is it?"
When I had reached puberty, she handed me a book.
That was how I learnt about menstruation and other rather significant changes
that were happening to my body.
In grade 9, if our parents had ticked the appropriate box
and signed the appropriate form,
we were herded off,
girls to Mrs Smith in this room,
boys to Mr Brown in that room,
where Mrs Smith and Mr Brown somewhat uncomfortably
enlightened us on the nitty gritty of the birds and the bees
and how not to have baby birds.
I can't imagine most kids these days getting to grade 9
without teaching their parents a thing or two about the topic.
Last week, I took my 3 off to the "Where did I come from?" session at school.
I nearly bailed when, in the car ride there, my 9 year old son was explaining to his little sister
that you can't have babies unless you kiss someone or get really close to them
and you have to be married.
Did I really want to ruin that innocence with one graphic sentence
in the school hall?
The seminar had a nice turn out of 5 to 9 year olds
and their parents
and the lady in charge was obviously well practiced
in saying words like "penis" and "sex" to a hall of kids
without showing any evidence of weakness to the pack.
There was a universal "ewwwwww" (from the kids)
when it was explained that the actual way that those sperm cells from daddy
get to the egg in mummy
is by daddy putting his penis into mummy's vagina.
(My, my. What a difference 10 years will make to that reaction)
Friends had taken their children to a similar seminar
and this got explained as a"special hug" between mummy and daddy
but you know what?
The little kids accepted this new fact about life and went with the flow.
There was a universal titter (from the adults)
when kids were yelling out their household's pet names for female pink bits
and some little one yelled out "trapdoor".
At the end of the evening,
the message that hit home to me was that the kids
took the facts on board,
processed them and moved on.
We as adults can choose to be embarrassed or vague or deflective
when we get asked those uncomfortable questions that are going to come.
I don't want to hand my kids a book and tell them to read it.
I know that a book should at least be giving the correct information
and I might read that book with them
but I need to be there
to make sure that they are coping OK.
It is important stuff and, heck knows, at times it will be emotional stuff,
especially when they reach the next seminar,
"What is happening to me?"
There are a number of disturbing things about the "Gangnam Style" song
(OK, yes, it is catchy)
but the one that is the top of my list
is seeing 5 and 6 year old children
doing the dance and singing "se-xy la-dy".
We have explained to our kids that sexy is not an appropriate word for them to use
at their age.
After this talk, they do now have a little understanding about the can of worms
that words like "sex" and "sexy" are opening.
My oldest was a tad non-plussed about the fact
that both sperm and wee came out of the same place in a willy
but was super excited that sperm looked like tadpoles.
My youngest loved the cute pictures of the babies
and took in the information that made sense to her.
Only my 8 year old,
my beloved, sensitive boy,
seemed scarred by the whole evening.
He had already decided that he didn't want to be a woman
because he didn't want to go through the birthing process.
But he was devastated to learn that only 1 of the 250 million sperm
racing for that egg would make it
and that the other 249 million plus sperm would curl up their toes.
I think that puberty and hormones with him is going to be a roller-coaster ride.