Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Dirty 'S' Word

Her Highness: "Momma, some boy said the S-E word today at school."
Me: (puzzled)"The S-E word. Which one is that?"
HH: "Sex. It is spelled S-E-X, y'know."
Me: (heart falling to feet) "Uh, what is sex, Her Highness?"
HH: "Well, I don't know but he got in trouble for saying it. Is it a bad word?"
Me: "Well... not really a bad word but more of a grown-up word."

The conversation happened several days ago and ended at this point, much to my initial relief. I was thrilled that she had only heard the word and did not know any more about it. Now, though, I feel like I missed a great opportunity to talk with her about sex. See, this course that I am taking this week is Human Sexuality. We are talking about anatomy, sexuality and dealing with many facets of sex, as a whole.

I learned last night that there was a chlamydia outbreak in a local school a couple of years ago. No big deal, right? I was unsurprised until the instructor went on to explain that the school was an elementary school and it was an entire class of FIFTH graders! Fifth graders! Fifth. Graders. Ten or eleven-year olds. Apparently, these children were left unsupervised at a birthday party and engaged in an orgy while the parents were outside the home. An orgy. In the FIFTH grade.

My thought was I wasn't even sure what sex was in the fifth grade! Let alone an orgy! Yikes. Double yikes!! The instructor then went on to say that children are peppered with sexual images online, on the TV and in print from an increasingly early age and they are, in turn, becoming more sexualized at an early age. Great.

So, I stopped and talked to her after class. She told me to talk to Her Highness NOW and educate her at home so she doesn't get misinformed at school or on the bus, which I guess is now a hotbed of sex in latter elementary school, as well. So, I have to do this. I don't want to but I have to. I want her to value herself and her body and not be lured into something that will stay with her forever because of my discomfort. Statistics show that parents who talk to their children about sex have kids who are less likely to engage in risky behavior or engage in sex at all. (Fingers, toes and legs crossed!)

I was the eleven year old who thought I was hemorrhaging when my period unexpectedly showed up one May morning in the fifth grade. Kind of sad that I knew what hemorrhaging was but not menstruation, right? My mom calmed me and assured me I was not dying but said, "Oh, I'm so sorry. This is horrible. You will have to deal with this every month of your life until you're really old." She handed me some pads and told me I wasn't going to school that day. That was my education about my famed Aunt Flo. Sweet, huh?

I later overheard my mom telling my grandma that I had started that day (horror of horrors!) and then my grandma told my grandpa (even bigger horror!). So, the whole family and then some were privy to my deepest embarrassment and I still didn't even really understand what was going on until the sixth grade when they showed "Julie's Story" and talked about sex, menstruation, etc. I read "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret" by Judy Blume around that time, too, and both enlightened me way more than the sorry way my own mother did.

In her defense, she was a kid when she had me at fifteen. I have since gathered that my grandparents were not very informative regarding sex and all surrounding it. I vowed, though, as I got older that if and when I had a daughter, I would educate her better than I was and make it less of a death sentence and more of a rite of passage. Well, now I have to live up to those earlier vows and I am scared to death.


Patois said...

It's time, for sure. And I'd like to say I am shocked by the fifth graders and the orgy, but I'm afraid I'm not. I am very sad, though.

Kellan said...

My girls (15 years old) were in the kitchen last night just talking about one of their friends and how she is a lesbian ... it is all so much stuff that I didn't ever have to deal with when I was a kid - it is too much stuff and too soon - but it is our world, isn't it? Take care and good luck with yours. Kellan

WorksForMom said...

Oh man, I think it's time Toni. I'm dreading (DREADING) sex talks already (and my son is 1).

5th grade orgy? Oh my, how incredibly sad, no?

The Egel Nest said...

5th grade and orgy should never be in the same sentence...

Oy Vey x 10!


The Egel Nest

Robin said...

Go for it. She's curious and you want her to get the information correctly from a trusted source. That sets such a stage for sexual relationships later on in life.
Do it in an informal, but structured way. You'll feel better talking about it that way and so will she.
Good luck!