It’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right.

As I sit here at my computer in the kitchen of our tiny house, my oldest daughter is watching a human growth and development movie at school. This is The Movie. (I saw my version in 1981. Girls went into one classroom. Boys went into another. We each saw our gender-specific movie, we returned to our normal classrooms, and when it was all over I knew that vagina is NOT pronounced Va-GHEE-nah. (Similarly, penis is not PEN-iss, as I had originally thought. Please know that the PEN-iss was NOT covered in our girl movie.))

Last week I was able to screen the movie that Meredith is currently watching, and I was a little shocked. Although the girls and boys will be divided, they will be viewing the same video. The video is presented as a call-in radio show titled “Puberty Week with Brad and Janet!” and I have no idea how the obvious Rocky Horror Picture Show tie-in made it past the original reviewers.

This morning Meredith left the house as an innocent almost 10 year old. She will climb into our car this afternoon with the line drawing of an erect boy part fried onto her brain. She will know about wet dreams. She will know that a sperm is 50% of what makes a baby and that an egg is the other 50%. She will NOT know how those two parts hook up, and if she asks it during the Q&A session, it will not be answered because it wasn’t directly discussed in the movie. (I know.) It wasn’t directly discussed in the movie, yet I know my kid and I know how her mind works and this evening I’ll probably have to lay it all out for her. And I guess that’s fine, but I also think that 10 is young, but I also know that kids are growing up faster now, but I also don’t necessarily think that arming them with this knowledge at 10 is going to prevent teen pregnancy.

I’m a bit flummoxed and I *did* consider letting her skip the movie. (This morning she told me that she was going to eat a light lunch just in case the movie turned her stomach. Heh.) BUT, kids are kids and kids will talk and I would rather she see it than hear about it at recess.

I can’t remember if it was the fourth grade movie or the fifth grade movie that said something like, “Just because you’re now CAPABLE of making a baby doesn’t mean you’re READY. You need financial stability!”

Financial Stability.

Here’s a photo of me when I was a 19-year-old sophomore at Mizzou. I’m wearing a bolo and a vest, I’m drinking a wine cooler in my dorm room, I’m getting ready to attend my very first (and also very last!) fraternity party, and I had no concept of Financial Stability.


In other words, “Just because you’re now CAPABLE of making a baby doesn’t mean you’re READY. You need blah blah blah blah babies are cute!”

(By the way, I’m pretty sure this song was playing as that photo was taken, and I was using a lot of aerosol hairspray in those days. The jeans were NOT mine, by the way.)

Anyway, the kids are growing up and the kids are alright and I’m sort of a prude and I’m getting ready to bake Snickerdoodles for a priest and I wish I knew where that bolo went because I’m suddenly feeling the need for some honkytonking. ‘ ‘ ‘text/javascript’>

28 thoughts on “It’s just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right.”

  1. That’s only like three years. My kid will be watching that video in three years and right now she’s pretty sure everyone goes to Uganda or Chicago to get a baby from a tummy mom who has grown a baby for them. And YES, I KNOW, I should tell her differently, but I don’t want to.

    I can’t even. Can’t I just lock my kids up until they’re not sweet innocent little babies anymore? I’m thinking sometime around their fiftieth birthday would be good…

  2. TEN??? Holy poop! We didn’t have our video (um… ok, it was film, we didn’t have video back in those days) until 9th grade… heck I didn’t even start my period until I was a freakin sophomore. We need to stop feeding kids hormones… and bring back child work camps or something.

  3. Oh, Ang, you will be fine. Just discuss a lot of this stuff in the car so you can look ahead and not directly in their eyes. If it helps, I can come over and help with the answers. Sometimes it helps not hearing this from a parent. I’ve taught sex ed in mother/daughter workshops, sorority houses, rehab centers, and juvie. Trust me, mother/daughter workshops are easy audiences! I’m there for ya, Darling!

  4. I saw that movie in third grade! What! My mom never, ever, ever talked to me about sex, which led me to wonder for years why women didn’t just put in a tampon during sex if they didn’t want to have a baby. To overcompensate I’ve been throwing books about how babies are made at Jackson since he was three.

  5. We’ve always answered our kids questions as they came up, and then when they reached adolescence, I took them away for a weekend to go into more depth. That was with our girls, but our son is very embarrassed about anything to do with sex. Absolutely twitchy about it. I don’t know if my husband will take him away for the weekend when he gets older or not (he’s 10). We want to inform him, not torture him.

  6. It will be easier than you think. While it’s distressing to think you’re sending a baby to school and she’ll come back a — what? A woman? No. Just a little girl who knows more than she did before the video.

    I agree, talk about it in the car, if possible. But if that’s not possible (because Little Sister doesn’t need to know this, yet) then simply say, “So, how was the video today?” If she has questions, she might ask them, or she might wait awhile. Follow her lead.

    Often kids react much less dramatically to “the movie” or “the book” or even “the talk” than parents think they will. If the video was done well, she’ll regard it as just something new she learned, like what happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar or what an avocado pit looks like when it sprouts.

    Really. She’s a smart girl. She and her friends will probably talk, but now they’ll have some decent information to inject in their conversation. And then someone will suggest a game of jump rope (or whatever girls do these days) and her world will still be the one you’d like her to be in.

  7. min asked last year. luckily we had a handy christian book from 1942 in our retro book collection…. then we went and bought her a MODERN book and she only obsessed about the growing of the boobs and the hair.
    Now she is in public school and apparently, yesterday was sex-ed day all over the world because they were also supposed to watch a video. but we took her home early to take her to her bday party. guess she learned the rest at recess today!

  8. OH DUDE. My 15yo girl child had an audition for a short film last weekend and this week she got a callback and tonight the (female) writer/producer is calling us to discuss how she plans to shoot the “makeout” scene in a way that we’ll all be comfortable with it and long story short, I am changing my name to Teri Shields! Wheee! Pass the wine coolers!

  9. We had to give the talk to our kids a couple of years ago. A single friend of ours decided to have a child through in vitro fertilization. After she had left from telling us she was pregnant, the kids (who love Magic School Bus) wanted to know how she could be pregnant if she wasn’t married. My daughter had seen the Magic school bus episode with the chicken and the rooster enough times to have put two and two almost together. We had to go into a simple discussion for my son who started the conversation and then a more detailed one for our daughter. The funniest part was a week or two later when a commercial or preview came on the TV that referred to oral sex. I was lucky enough to be gone that evening and my husband had to deal with that one himself with our daughter.

  10. My youngest still thinks I have a PEN-iss, no matter how many times I correct him. I can’t fathom having the movie talk with him in a mere 5 years. My oldest is 9 now, but he started asking questions when he was only 4 so we got him an age appropriate book and talked about it at a high level. He knows all about the sperm and egg business, but I know he doesn’t really know where they come from or how they get together. But I’m sure it won’t be long now…

  11. Hey! Rocky Horror reference! Just one hour before I saw this post I was having “the RHPS talk” with my 12-year-old daughter. She asked about the movie and whether it was one she could see. I promptly said no, it’s inappropriate, gave a summary of the plot and then started singing the songs just to illustrate how definitely inappropriate we are talking, at the same time that I waxed poetic on how the movie made me love Tim Curry no matter how bad the role and explained yes I used to go and yes I used to dress and when is it okay to do that kind of thing? well I might feel different about that than my mother did but I’m never going to shame her for feeling curious blah blah blah . . . I can’t seem to have these kinds of conversations without making a major fool of myself. Turns out she’d seen the Glee episode. :-( Moot.

  12. I would forget the bolero and stock up on the wine coolers (God, koolaid with a kick… those were the days).

    My 8yo is adamantly against any sort of him/her discussion so far. I have offered. I have offered to just bring home a book for him to read silently, alone in his room. He just glares at me and says “Mom, I DO NOT want to KNOW.”

    My 4yo, on the other hand, already knows more than her brother, mostly through the process of logical questions and deductions.

  13. Oh my goodness, I do believe I have a picture almost exactly like that, except for the wine cooler and bolo.

  14. We saw our educational video when we were in primary school aged 9. We saw it in a mixed class and it involved a birth scene that was enough to put me off wanting to have babies for a long time.
    Our teachers were very good and answered every possible question without embarrassment.
    My teacher was concerned we should have the facts having been traumatised by a previous student who had got her period at 9 and convinced she was dying had locked herself in the school toilets and refused to come out.

  15. I am so not looking forward to this. Although, with three sons I know WAY more about the male anatomy than I ever cared to at this point.

    Oh, sweet Meredith. Take her to the American Girl Cafe afterward. It will make everything feel better.

  16. This IS momentous. Almost 10 seems kind of young. Couldn’t they wait until middle school?

  17. I remember when I saw the video in 5th grade, but I don’t remember the actual video. My oldest is 13 now and we talk about how you should never do lots of things, especially send any naked body part picture of yourself to anyone EVER!!!!! Then we talked about bullying and the Amanda Todd story and then I cried hysterically and she had to get me tissues. Anyway…they do grow up so fast.

  18. I firmly believe in giving kids all the facts (age appropriately) as soon as possible. I can’t remember having ever NOT know what sex was. My mom had a book called “the body book” which was a picture book that stepped through digestion, vision, hearing, and reproduction. Complete with line drawings of people having sex. It showed the egg/sperm meet up, how a fetus grows, and, finally birth. It wasn’t salacious, it was just the facts presented in a straight forward manner. Not that there still wasn’t plenty left for me to learn when I reached sex-ed classes (how does birth control work, what are the options, how well do they work, what’s up with tampons, etc. etc.) Just that the notion of sex was not startling. Now, WHY anyone would want to do that? I didn’t get that till much later.

  19. Ugh aaaaahhhh ohgodohgod my son will be having that exact same experience some time in the next few weeks. I thought I was going to be the kind of mother who totally had this figured out waaaaaaaay before now. I was going to be the mom that talked casually and openly about this from Day One. Oops, delusional parental fantasy #78, there you go. I’m seriously considering not saying anything at all and just letting the school handle the whole thing. But that would be a total cop out. So, not really. But a little bit. My stomach is totally turned right now.

  20. My gorgeous eight-year-old Littlest has a terrifying friend who is always talking about sex. I had to tell Littlest what it was because she was so terrifyingly misinformed. LOUDLY misinformed. Which was worse, in the end, than being informed at all.

    After I rambled awkwardly through the details, she said ‘Ew. Yucky.’

    And I felt a LOT better. Better me, with help from her sister’s book about puberty, than the Terrifying Friend Child.

  21. My son & his friends refer to health class as “Vegas” (as in what happens there stays there). When you’re a 10 year old boy your body is like a rental car. At first you just want to keep it on the road. Later, you begin to wonder how to work the defroster.

  22. My first thought was “10!!!!” but then I thought about it and I knew all of that stuff at 10. I don’t know if I should have known, but I did. But man, am I so glad I don’t have to answer the awkward questions you’re going to get.

  23. My husband had The Talk with my daughter last summer when she was 8. I was away overnight with my younger daughter. She already knew about the “seed” and the “egg” and now wanted to know how they got together. She had been asking some pretty pointed questions around this time and it was getting difficult not answering. He gave her the basics and I guess she was pretty grossed out. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall! I asked her a few days later if she had any questions for me but she said she was all set.
    A couple months later she asked what the “sticks in the bathroom drawer were” (tampons.) I gave her the info on that and her reaction was “being a girl stinks!”

  24. Yup, our girlie was about 10 when this rolled around–we decided to make the preemptive strike, challenging though that is, and I’m really glad we did.

    We found the Harris/Emberley (co-authors-check Amazon) books to be a great help. So matter-of-fact, they struck just the right tone. She and I cuddled up on the bed one afternoon and looked over the first in the series, and she asked a few questions, but took it all really well. Yay her!

    She agrees with Mer (funny-those are our girlie’s initials!) that the whole being a girl thing entails some pretty sucky stuff–she’s 15 now and holds fast to that belief, but has a good head on her shoulders and I’m glad she knows which way is up.

  25. I think your long-lost sister lived on my floor at Illinois State. You are SO rockin that vest.

Comments are closed.