The Birds and the Bees

My mother taught me the finer points of human anatomy from a nursing book with black and white illustrations that used to be her mother’s. The front cover was ripped off, the pages dog-eared and frayed. She consulted that book for every childhood ailment we ever had.

And she used it as a visual aide when she gave my sister and me The Talk. 

I remember the day she took us into her bedroom and pulled the dusty volume off the shelf. I just don’t remember what she said. We learned the facts of life with all the proper terms and anatomically correct illustrations.

And the entire time I was thinking; I have no idea what you are talking about.

But I nodded my head and pretended.

I don’t know how old I was, but it wasn’t old enough. My sister is two years older than I, so that talk was probably more for her benefit than mine. Two for one? I don’t know. But there never was a repeat. Not even a review. I had my chance to learn about the birds and the bees and I missed it for lack of understanding.

I’m not sure what kind of deep-seeded personality flaws this lack created in my psyche, but I’ve always been a little sensitive about it. So much so, that two years ago I was blindsided by my neglect.

We were on the fifth grade field trip. After a couple hours of walking and herding, we settled in to the Imax theatre for our viewing pleasure. Unbeknownst to me, the movie? The Human Body. My poor little fifth grader sat next to his mother in the dark as the narrator discussed how a baby is made.

It was the first time he ever heard it.

I thought I would faint.

The kids were mostly freaked out by the information. I think I was more so.

And it got worse.

I learned on the bus trip home that most of my son’s friends had already had The Talk.

I was mortified.

Fifth grade? Really?

Apparently, kids these days develop earlier than we did. That’s what they told me. I looked at my red-headed, freckle-faced boy and thought No way.

A few days later I broached the subject with my baby.

And was surprised by his open curiosity. He was ready to hear. The Talk.

I ordered a couple books and a movie that one of the mom’s had recommended. All in all, it went very well. My eyes were opened.

But I adjusted.

Guess where I’m going tomorrow? With my youngest? With my baby?

On that very same fifth grade field trip that I was so traumatized by two years ago. Same city. Same stops.

Different movie. (whew!)

But as the date of the trip quickly approached, I began to feel a tightness in my chest. Could my baby of babies really be ready for The Talk?

I sucked it up and broached the subject two nights ago.

We watched the movie.

All in all it went very well.

But I’m still glad that our movie tomorrow is Under the Sea.

Will you share your stories about The Talk with me? I’m ever so curious…

Resources:


The Movie:
Where Did I Come From? Narrated by Howie Mandel

The Book (for me):
Everything you Never wanted your kids to know about SEX (but were afraid they’d ask) by Justin Richardson, M.D., and Mark A. Schuster, M.D., Ph.D.


The Book (for him):

The American Medical Association’s Boys Guide to Becoming a Teen by Kate Gruenwald Pfeifer

Comments

  1. says

    this is not good; my parents never had that talk with me and they were a medical doctor and a nurse. Maybe that’s why I turned two-shades of red when I tried to tiptoe around the talk with my daughters. I am wondering if part of the reason we must talk to them sooner is because they are reaching puberty younger and with all the garbage on the television. Thanks for making me laugh instead of blushing with your cute story :).

  2. says

    My oldest daughter is 8, and she already has a million questions (not only about this issue, but about everything). I answer her questions honestly and openly. So yes, it’s early to have The Talk, but it has worked for us because she initiated the conversation and we’ve been able to talk about it without awkwardness or embarrassment. That has been a blessing.

  3. says

    I was given Where Did I Come From when I was about four years old – I grew up with full disclosure. And still I am extremely shy about the whole subject and have only managed to tell some of it to my dd. She’s ten and I think it’s still too young for her to know some things. But that’s just us. I realised earlier this year she didn’t even know what a male body looked like! I corrected that, but oh boy it was difficult!

  4. says

    My mom had “the talk” with me when I was around ten – clinical facts only. I thought it was gross.

    I got over the gross factor by the time I was about 16, and somehow maintained a relatively healthy view of sex…it belonged in marriage, it was a beautiful expression of love, all that jazz. But really, I knew NOTHING. There were terms that I eventually looked up in the dictionary because my mom had never, ever talked to me about them. There were things I learned from friends. Thank goodness I’m a reader and when I was engaged I read several books on the subject.

    Unfortunately in the Christian world I get the feeling that most people think the best sex ed is the kind that gives the least amount of information possible that will keep kids from having sex until they are married. That’s it. Most of my friends didn’t even get “the talk” – they got handed a book. The clear message from the beginning? Sex is embarrassing. Shameful. Hidden. Uncomfortable.

    Is this what we want our children to grow up believing?!?!

    I have married friends, virgins when they got married, met all the “purity” standards, who still have a hard time getting past all the embarrassing, shameful stuff of their childhoods. Making it to the wedding day a virgin doesn’t guarantee a great sex life, folks, and it shouldn’t be our only goal.

    I think our goal should be to – gradually and at appropriate ages – introduce our kids to the wonder of sex. God created this amazing, funny, intimate act for us to enjoy! Also as a way of making babies. (Not JUST as a way of making babies.) The “philosophy” of sex should be given as well as the specifics. It shouldn’t be uncomfortable to talk about – and if it is, I think parents need to get past their own hang-ups!

    I don’t have kids yet and I know it’s easy to think about from this side of the equation. But I’ve envisioned the MANY conversations I hope to have with them about this beautiful subject (not just one “talk”.) I hope that it can be something they feel comfortable talking openly about with me when they’re teenagers, young adults, engaged. I hope I’m someone they can bring their questions to. I hope that I can show them that it is sacred, beautiful, wonderful – not embarrassing, hidden, secret. I hope I can give them all the information they need to know not JUST to make it to the wedding day a virgin, but to have a passionate and fulfilling married sex life.

    I guess I hope to give them all that I was NOT given. I hope they don’t have to look words up in the dictionary. I hope I can give them some small picture of how amazing their bodies are. I hope I can convey the sacredness and the respect.

    We have a lot to compete with, with all kinds of sexual information in the media. Giving them clinical facts and then saying “it’s great after you’re married” is NOT enough. I have a 16 year old sister and I’m seeing the failure of this line of logic with her. I’m trying to show her something else, something more. We’ve GOT to get past our embarrassment, folks, and be able to offer something to our kids that is MORE compelling than what they see in the world! Otherwise THAT is what they’ll choose for their sexual worldview.

    Sorry for the passion, it’s a bit of a soapbox with me. 😛

  5. says

    My best friend came home from spending a year in Catholic School in a big city and told me all about it (with a few confusing additions that I’m not sure where came from). It was the year between third and fourth grade. I asked my mother about it, months later when I had finally mustered up the courage and she laughed hysterically through a discussion that I may have comprehended a fraction of a fraction of.

    My son started asking questions at the age of six and by 8 could have given a talk at Promise Keepers about the importance of paternal responsibility (his dad and I are happily married and he’s a very involved father, and we didn’t really say anything to get him thinking about it. I guess the thought that a man can sire a child and just…walk…bothered the boy a whole lot). It made for interesting conversations at playdates and family dinners. It has been pretty easy discussing things with him, probably because he’s had years to bring up questions and it wasn’t an awkward issue for him.

    My daughter, on the other hand, is now in 5th grade and wants nothing to do with any conversation of the sort. I’m looking for a good book (from a Christian perspective, but healthy, informed and positive Christian perspective…does one exist?) on the subject, it’s amazing how different kids are and how you have to keep hopping as a parent because the second time around is often so different from the first! I have no idea how it will go with my youngest, who is a first grader. I suspect she has ideas of her own that probably involve fairies, storks, or public toilet seats.

    Thanks for this post, what a great gift it is to have someone bring this up…since it’s something we’re all going to have to deal with, and something you don’t get to talk about often!

  6. says

    I wanted to do The Talk younger than usual, because by the time my mother had it with me, I was already being sexually abused by a grandfather. I have a boy and a girl, and we started about age 7-8 with the basics, but the discussion continues. My son, who is about to enter high school, just got a big ol’ Part II. My daughter is soon to start her period, and that makes pregnancy all the more real.

  7. says

    Well, Cliff had the talk with our middle son, but when my oldest son was about 10, we had the talk kind of randomly sitting at the Sonic waiting for our food. An obviously pregnant teenage girl walked by with skin tight clothes on and a shorty shirt. Garrett looked at her and then looked at me and said, “Did that girl have SEX to get like that?” I said, “Uh….yeah. Do you know what that is?” I explained it to him and he was relieved to know some of the stuff he had heard from his buddies was wrong. 🙂

  8. says

    Wonderful gift, Laura, for you and for your two “guys.”
    BTW, my mother was raised on a farm, and her dad was very adamant about keeping her from the fields when “that time” came around. She confessed to her boys, one day, that she knew nothing about sex until she and dad got married!

  9. says

    We just recently sat down with our 10 year old boy and discussed things. He had a few questions, mainly why we keep making love if we don’t want to have more children, and he seemed satisfied with our answers. It was a perfect opportunity to tell him that sex belongs between two people who commit their lives to each other, and that it is a special gift of that commitment. He liked the idea and said he hopes to find a wife special enough to do something that gross with.

  10. says

    Laura,
    Luckily my wife grabbed the bull by the horns and talked with our daughter last year(she was in fifth grade).

    Recently, unknown to us, the elementary school where my boys go conducted a school-wide asssembly about “inappropriate” touching. When I got home and they started in with their giggles expaining the information presented. They are in second and third grade. I almost sat them down then to do the “talk,” but resisted. I just can’t imagine as immature as they are, trying to explain those things…it’s coming soon though. I need some divine help to get through it.

  11. says

    So funny this! It was pretty much a forbidden topic in my house. But we had lots of books… I taught myself everything I needed to know 🙂 I actually can’t imagine having an open discussion with my parents about this, but I hope to be very open with my own children one day.

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