Confronting the Facts of Life

It’s the subject you most need your child to understand but you least want to talk about. When I was in school, the class was called “lifestyles.” At Justin’s school, they call it “family life.” And all the fifth graders are being introduced to it in the last few weeks before the summer break.

The school gave parents the option of exempting their child from the lessons if they had any moral or religious objections. There may be some people who prefer to teach these things to their kids in their own way, but I am not one of them. If a professional educator is willing to explain the birds and the bees to my child, leaving me to cover my ears and chant “blah blah blah” in blissful ignorance, I’m good with that.

Except I don’t think I’ll really get a free pass. I am somewhat saved by the fact that I have boys — their father will be on the hook for the nitty gritty details. (A friend of mine once mentioned that while her mother had explained about menstruation, she was given to understand that it was a one-time thing. I don’t want to be responsible for such misinformation.)

Brayden got an early introduction to the whole concept of reproduction when his grade 2 class raised baby chicks last year. The eggs stayed in an incubator for a few weeks, eventually the chicks hatched (the odd one died, which was a lesson in itself) and the kids got a hands-on study of the cycle of life. I wish I knew exactly how the teacher explained it all, cause Brayden somehow accepted that the hen got a seed from the rooster without ever being curious about how. (He recently commented that “you kiss someone and they have a baby,” so there’s still some work to be done.)

So anyway, after Justin’s class had their introduction to family life, I happened to overhear some parents talking. One of them said that at one point, the teacher mentioned the word “vulva,” and one kid blurted out, “Hey, my dad drives one of those!”

You wonder how we got this far as a species.