A couple weeks ago my kid’s school sent home a note saying that “The Health Talk” was coming up. My son happened to be pretty sick with an on and off fever that week, coincidentally. His friend told him, “You’re lucky you missed it.”. My friend and I were trying desperately to figure out from the broken incomplete sentences from the boys what exactly was taught since no other information came home about it.
Turns out the big reveal was this week. We had another notice – this time on gold paper – come home that they would begin covering “Puberty” and “here are some follow up conversations you can have at home.”
F*ckety freak frack. Seriously? He was just potty trained like a year ago.
(not really, but how is my child looking down the barrel of puberty already?!)
I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but I don’t really know what I’m doing quite yet. I figure the parental instincts will kick in eventually. For what it’s worth, I am on point with the second kid. The first continues to be mostly training wheels.
So I took the suggestions from the work sheet pretty loosely. The school district can barely manage my kid’s IEP. I doubt they have a better handle on hormone functions and sperm than I do. The only thing I took from the paper was to make sure if things feel awkward (“IF” ?!?! IF ?) you let your child know it’s awkward for the parent as well …. I agreed to a certain extent.
Anyway, after my daughter was sent off to brush teeth and get ready for bed, I figured i’d delve into it. I was more concerned with friend info and what the playground conversations were that resulted from the curriculum, to be honest.
I guess I should say here that my husband and I have always had a pretty open door policy on information with our kids. They are quite aware of what body parts are, what their functions are and if there are questions, just ask us and not friends. This has resulted in some pretty hilarious random questions from my 6 year old daughter the last few weeks. The first – on the way to school – was “did they have to cut open your pee pee to have us, mom?” which led to an even more colorful conversation. The very next day she had a follow up question; “What happens to the milk in your boobs, mom?”.
Needless to say, the discomfort level was laid out early and paved the way for the more possibly awkward conversation with the 11 year old of hormones, puberty, and erections.
Now I will freely admit that biology talk has always been quite uncomfortable for me. I get through it, I try to hide my discomfort, and I realize it’s my own hang up. But you know what? It doesn’t matter to your kid. If they want information you have, they will water board you, pull your finger nails out, or perform Chinese water torture to get that information. (or is that just my kids?) I anticipated this conversation to be excruciating, but I managed to go into it nonchalantly and just see how it would unravel. I had no idea how much info I was going to give, and I had no plan. (big surprise there, right?)
While my son was occupied, I asked if the talk had begun at school. He told me yes, and we went on from there. I was surprised at how comfortable it was to communicate with him about this. It seems we had laid the groundwork already leading up to it by being honest and open about biology.
Don’t get me wrong, it was not a cake walk, but it was less painful than a Minecraft monologue.
One thing that surprised me was how interesting he thought it all was. He told me in class he didn’t find it embarrassing or weird, but he had to act uncomfortable “like all the other kids so they wouldn’t think i’m weird because I liked learning about it.”
My son has always loved science and how things work and operate. It shouldn’t surprise me that biology would be any different for him, but I guess it did.
I think it’s unfortunate he didn’t feel like he could safely behave in a way that might even model positive behavior for his classmates. Instead, he had to camouflage his curiosity and interest to avoid social mayhem. (and how many other boys felt they had to do this? Were they all secretly comfortable with it and just interested in the science of it all?)
Our conversation lasted about 45 minutes, and I feel like we covered most of the important stuff. It’s always sort of a need-to-know basis, and every kid has a different level of maturity so no script is going to be 100% effective. Apparently if you go in with an open mind, not a lot of expectation, and honesty, it doesn’t have to be a painful experience.
The entertainment factor will help mask some of the awkwardness, also. The one exchange I feel I need to write down for fear of forgetting it later was this:
I was explaining how he’s already begun to notice some changes, especially in the mornings. He asked if that meant then that sex could only occur in the morning. I explained more, and also that it was just his body wiring itself, practicing functions, programming everything for when it would be necessary MUCH MUCH later in life.
“Oooh, I think I get it, mom. It’s like a video game. You have to start out practicing your abilities and begin slow. They don’t just throw you in a level and expect you to fight the Big Boss right away.”
Yes. I think I will let him believe that sex is like fighting a Boss at the end of a level. A big, mean, ugly vicious Boss. He wont be dating until he’s 30.