The four year old has pulled her skirt over her head and dances as she sings, “I am inappropriate! I am inappropriate! I shake my inappropriate booty! I love to be inappropriate!” I think this new found freedom stems from her recently received first kiss. Sam leaned over during snack time and kissed her cheek. Being the girl that she is, my child immediately told her best friend, who told her mom, who told me. Best Friend’s Mom also told Sam’s mom, who apologized to me for her son’s forwardness. I said, “A kiss on the cheek? I think that’s okay.”
In the face of our trouble over the new 5th grade Growth and Change course that is coming up soon, a kiss on the cheek seems positively benign. The course book talks about oral sex, masturbation, etc. Not in the “how to” sense, but in the definitional sense, which is probably way more information than any 11 year old wants. Remember how oogey sex sounded at that age? Remember when boys still had cooties? Or, I should say, when we recognized that boys had cooties.
Looking over the student manual for the Growth and Change science unit, I think it’s rather impressive. Mainly focused on the biology of reproduction and human growth, it has large illustrations of internal and external organs. It shows drawings of different body types, different stages of development, and different needs for boys and girls (girls shave their pits, or at least they do in the summer once swimsuit season begins; both need deodorant; both need to shower more frequently, etc.) It sends kids to the parents for morality issues, like when is it okay to have sex and is masturbation acceptable. It repeatedly tells kids that sexual contact is for consenting adults. Thinking that the whole hullabaloo over the new materials was 99% unfounded, I shared the course book with some friends. Holy Can of Religious Right Worms!
“That’s pornography!” exclaimed these dear, wonderful women.
You mean, pencil drawings of the human body, not engaged in any behavior at all, just standing there, to be dissected, as it were, is porn? Wow, then I am a porn addict because I regularly look at real naked bodies (photos in my pregnancy/child birth book, my children, my self--although this last one is mostly due to proximity to mirrors and not because I’m so in to that.) They felt that schools should not teach sex education at all. But schools teach the skeletal system, the digestive system, the endocrine system and the nervous system. What should we do? Leave a big, black, gaping hole for the reproductive system? The books that teach about biology should have the word TABOO printed over the no-no parts?
From what I've seen, without accurate information, kids will do one of two things:
- Either they will find out in tragic and scary ways that mating is for humans, not just for dogs. And, sister, in that case, it will not be the mature, loving encounter that I hope it is for my children.
- They’ll learn all about sex, anyway. On the playground, in locker rooms, under the bleachers. They’ll hear the words that kids use to describe sexual acts and they’ll think sex is dirty, embarrassing, and something that only teenagers do.
Now, it could be that in 20 years my kids will be sitting around discussing their youth and part of what they’ll say is, “Can you believe Mom and the school were so open about all that? What a stupid idea!” But, maybe, it will do the opposite. Maybe, between the school system and home, we’ll create a generation of kids who can have an honest discussion about sex with someone they love without the accompanying embarrassment or guilt. What a novel idea: demysticize the act by actually talking about it without giggles or rib poking.
Of course, given my children’s propensity for pulling their skirts over their heads, we may be in for a rough haul. I’ll let you know in 20 years.