A couple weeks ago the school sent a form home asking for my permission to talk about puberty with my son. Of course I signed it. The more sex ed he receives from knowledgable sources, the better.
I have always been open with O about things like sex and puberty. When he was three or four, I remember walking him through the childbirth exhibit at the Museum of Science in Boston, where he got to see, soup to nuts (no pun intended), how babies are made. We refer to our genitals by their proper names: there's no cutesy "weiners" and "va-jay-jays" or the vague "down there" I grew up with. We try to be scientific without being too clinical. I've noticed in the last year or so, O gets a little embarrassed talking about certain aspects of sex, which is completely normal for his age, but oddly, he'd still rather talk to me about it than his father.
O was telling me his gym teacher last week was explaining how the talk would work and he said, "I'll be talking to the girls and Mrs. S will be talking to the boys." When the proper amount of outrage and shrieking registered, the gym teacher held up his hands and said, "Just kidding, kids. I'll be talking to the boys." O said he leaned over to his friend and whispered loudly, "Perv!"
That's my boy.
How times have changed. I remember when I was in fifth grade (1975?), the whole talk was sprung upon me with no warning. I had to be led out of the darkened basement cafeteria, sobbing, when I learned that soon I'd be bleeding every month "down there," and that there were three holes, not two, and that babies didn't come from wishing really hard for one, which explained why motherhood wasn't really working out for me, and that someday a boy would be sticking THAT into me. And not just to make babies!
My mother had to come over to school and pick me up, and I sensed that the school was not happy with her as she led me out of the principal's office. I found out later that the school had mailed a little package home a couple weeks before, complete with a flowered booklet -- written by the friendly folks at Tampax -- my parents were supposed to give me and talk to me about. That evening I could hear my parents, who had just filed for divorce, fighting about it, my father arguing that my mother should have been the one to sit down with me and my mother saying, "But I didn't think she was old enough!"
The result was I became the resident fifth grade sexpert. I had to. Kids were brutal in those days, so I had to fight back with solid information they could use, information I picked up wherever I could. I remember telling some girl that her mother was having twins because her father had sex with her ... twice. Then there was this thing called a "blow job" and it worked by just blowing air on a boy's you-know-what. And that if you looked at too many pictures of naked ladies in the stack of dirty mags your older brother kept in the secret fort down in the woods, you'd turn "gay." Whatever gay was.
Sex education. It's a good thing.