Tuesday, April 14, 2009


As I was saying, Lilly just finished up Sex Ed in her fifth grade science class. I was pleased to see that some things have changed since Atticus took it four years ago. The biggest change is that now, they do indeed explain that part A goes into part B. Actually, I'm not sure if this is a true change in the curriculum or an executive decision made on the part of Ms. S (Lilly has the same teacher that Atticus had) who was tired of year after year teaching a topic when half the class was completely confused. The confused half tended to be the boys since (as I also mentioned earlier) it is the dad's job to tell the boys about sex and a lot of them simply don't do it.

Bravo for Ms. S who decided to take the bull by the horns and tell them exactly how babies are made. And kudos to her too for the creative explanation of erections (as passed on to me by Lilly). "She said it's like a long balloon that you have to blow up or it won't go in the hole." Good point. That shriveled up balloon is not going anywhere if you get my drift. It's a not-so-subtle point I would have forgotten to cover myself.

I realized just how comfortable the fifth-graders were getting with the whole subject when Lilly turned from the computer the other day and asked me, "Mom, is menstruation when the penis gets blown up so it can go in the vagina?" "No," I answered, peeling potatoes and trying to picture my grandmother answering that question a few decades ago, "Menstruation is your period. You're thinking of an erection."

She smacked her forehead and said,"Oh yeah! Of course," then turned to the computer and typed furiously.

"What are you doing anyway?"

"I'm instant-messaging Alex and we're studying for the science test together."

Is that what they call it now? In my day that kind of talk would have gotten your knuckles smacked with a ruler (not really, it was the 70's no one was hitting anyone in the public schools but I wanted to say that). Certainly I would have been much too mortified to say any of the words in her question in front of a boy or type them if such space-aged technology existed back then. Secretly I was thrilled that my kids are so much more comfortable with the whole human body sex thing than kids were in days of yore.

So I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing. All three kids have gone through sex ed so all three are well-versed in the topic. I've also had the "always wear a condom--every time" conversation with all three of them repeatedly. (By the way, did you know that experts say when it comes to uncomfortable subjects like sex and drugs and why all Illinois governors go to jail that you should talk about these things so frequently that kids have no memory of a single conversation--it's just something they grow up hearing about. Good to know especially for those of us who remember with excruciating detail the talk our mother gave us --or in my case the talk my mother never gave me.

Anyhoo, like I said I was feeling pretty cocky and forward-thinking and progressive on the whole thing until Saturday night when the family watched a PG-13 movie in which one of the mean high-school girls says to the nice high-school girl "I've heard you've never had an orgasm." (On what planet do high-school girls talk this way, I wonder?) and Lilly had to ask, "What's an orgasm?"

Uh-oh. Ms. S didn't you cover that?

"Oh," I said breezily, "That's the part that feels good so you want to have sex. Otherwise who would do that?"

"Oooohhhhh!" Lilly said, as another piece of the mysterious puzzle fell into place, "It actually feels good?"

"Yes," Jeff offered, "It's the part that makes you want to say yippee." Grace looked mortified and Atticus heh-heh-ed exactly like my brother Paul did at that age.

Later in the movie when said nice girl had her orgasm (thankfully off-screen)Lilly asked, "If it feels good why does she sound like she's in pain?"

I ignored the question.

Some things a girl has to figure out on her own.

Unless Ms. S wants to cover that for me too.


  1. I want to meet the guy who uses that condom.
    Anonymous Mary