“Mom I Got my Girlfriend Pregnant..
…and I have herpes,” said my thirteen year old son. This, following a thirty minute car ride abound with opportunity for this announcement. But I suppose that would have made sense, so why do that? Yep, crossing the threshold of the pediatrician’s office, mere feet away from the receptionists, was much better. Sometimes I’m convinced I was graced with children for the sole purpose of allowing them to mess with my head.
Face aflame, eyes brimming with bemusement, my son decided to put me out of my misery just a stride or two later. “In health class, mom. That was my assignment to study and explain how I would handle it.” Oh, well, that makes sense– what?
We were there for a sick visit, and no doubt the receptionists heard the grand proclamation although I’m not convinced they heard the follow-up. At least that’s what their understanding, somber nods as we signed in led me to believe. But I had bigger things on my mind.
Call me old-fashioned, but I’d really prefer if I were the one to determine how in depth my children should be taught about this stuff. This was one of the weighing factors in religious education for my children, as our church mandates a video viewing and lengthy in-depth discussion of what many of the kids walking out of there referred to as soft porn to “educate” our 11 and 12 year-olds on the graphics of sex…. Huh? No thank you.
At what point did this happen? On one hand we bemoan the loss of our children’s innocence at such tender ages. Yet on the other, we march them into environments that require the educational deflowering of our babies. I get chastised by strangers for bringing my children to a rated R movie but am required to hand them over to a stranger who will explain to them the ins and outs, no pun intended (ok, maybe it was a little intentional) of sex as required of them by the great state of New York. Let’s just hope the state doesn’t include health class in its pride-and-joy Common Core strategy.
If 62 + 26=88 has been turned into :
(60+2) + (20+6) = 80+8
and other abominations like found here http://www.nationalreview.com/article/373840/ten-dumbest-common-core-problems-alec-torres accurately identify our new and improved educational system our poor teachers are compelled to abide by, what might sex-ed look like if Common Core should ever be applied? (This is the part where I refrain from actually posting the examples I made up. See? I have acquired a filter!)
I’m all for acknowledging the fact that my babies are growing up and encouraging open discussions with them about whatever topic is on their mind. I practice the parenting approach of assuring them – and following through on this assurance- that they can come to me with any question, on any topic, in a respectful manner, and I will do my best to answer it as honestly as I can. Sure I may take a deep breath and a glass of wine to process my response, and there have been more than a fair share of guffaws during these bonding moments. But you know what? Those who think just because they ban their kids from these conversations and clamp down on all but the most Quaker-like of adult exposure may be surprised to hear what your kid says at the ball field with his friends. Or online with strangers. Nope. Denying the reality of what our kids are exposed to does not mean they are not exposed to it. It just means they won’t talk to you about it. Instead, they’ll get their answers from Google.
Feeling brave? Google the question… How are babies made? Would you rather have your kids learn like that? Or perhaps they should be totally shielded from all of it. Somehow. Like maybe you live in a tree house in the Amazon and your sixth grader definitely does not ride the bus with high-schoolers. So their first exposure to all of this is in that religion course, with a very sweet-faced couple describing the video they just saw, in a room packed with kids who are half horrified and half raring to go. Or in Miss Gray’s health class, surrounded by their peers who have been watching Tosh.O and riding the bus with high-schoolers for months. Maybe you feel better about it, but I guarantee you your kid will remember that embarrassment forever. Ask me how I know.
Having survived the middle-school grade health class parenting test, my next curricular requirement made me a grandmother to my sixteen-year-old son’s baby. A word of advice- if your kid brings that computerized doll home, and if you, too, cannot resist posting a pic and an announcement, do yourself a favor by emphasizing the fact that it is a doll, and you are not actually a grandparent yet.
I’m not sure what the answer is. How much leniency is too much. I like to think I’ve drawn an acceptable line in the sand of what my kids may and may not partake in. Probably not. I’ve undoubtedly shielded them too much as well as allowed too much. But so far they seem to doing alright. No real babies or STD’s- only the make believe ones they indulge in at school.
But maybe it would be even more accurate if the school followed this schedule, in the spirit of reality:
Let the kids wear those fun little drunk goggles all afternoon, while watching the artistic videos and engaging in deep talks. Then the next week, as a surprise, “diagnose” them with that STD. Create photo shopped pics of them doing things they just don’t remember doing with the drunk goggles on. And a few months later, dump the screaming computerized baby in their laps. For girls, maybe you can make them wear the pregnancy suits for a week. Boys, you can have them sit in a room full of crying “girlfriends” and their angry parents before both “parents” are sentenced to an accounting class and home-ec, or whatever its equivalent is called today. Cancel all social events for the health class students who have to stay home with that baby while their friends go out. And so on. I mean, may as well give them the full experience, no?
Or how ‘bout this…let parents parent their children.