Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Miguel’s fifth grade is class is finishing up their 8-day Family Life unit, which is just a code word for Sex Ed.

Last week, after he saw a film on the male anatomy, he said to me, “That was creepy.”

“Why?” I asked “You know what penises look like.”

“I don’t know. It was just creepy.”

A normal response from a slightly immature 11-year old, I thought.

I picked him up from school the next day after the teacher had screened the film on the female anatomy.

“Today was even worse than yesterday,” he said in response to my question about his day.

With Miguel on the cusp of puberty, Verna and I are glad he’s learning more details about the various changes his body and soul are about to undergo. But we also wonder if he’s a tad young for some of the topics.

Do fifth graders really need to know about AIDS, HIV, and STDs? His teacher, who is wonderful, said, “Yes, they do. Middle school kids are already sexually active in some places,” which is a good reason why the focus is on abstinence.

Miguel still protests loudly if I even suggest he finds another girl fascinating. So Verna and I want to protect his innocence for a couple more years. We know the raging hormonal torrent is inevitable, but why rush Mother Nature?

On the other hand, it’s not as if Miguel was clueless about the facts of life. He’s known the basic outline of where a baby comes from since he was 8. He asked the questions and I answered them.

Last year he got an involuntary refresher course when one of his classmates, another 10 year old at the time, told Miguel and two other boys in their class that he had a girlfriend, they’d had sex, and he could hook up Miguel and his friends with her so they could “hump together.”

“I knew he was lying,” Miguel said at the time. But I had to review the finer details of sex and reproduction with him because of the boy's fabrications. After we went over how a man and women get pregnant, Miguel looked at me as if to say, “I didn’t really need to know that, dad. Again.”

A few weeks ago, Miguel and I were outside with one of our neighbors, Rich, who was going in for a vasectomy that weekend. Rich casually mentioned having to go back in a few months to have his seminal fluid tested. On our way back inside the house, Miguel asked, “How does the man get the stuff out of his penis?”

Oh great, I thought, here comes the masturbation discussion. Miguel looked at me incredulously after I answered him.

Even though he said he all the Sex Ed. was creepy, Miguel wanted to test me last week before he went to bed.

“What is the thing inside the body that regulates it?” he asked.

“Biological clock?” I answered.

“No, it has to do with growth,” he said.

“Pituitary gland,” I said.

“Correct. What does the woman use to block her menstruation?”

Yes, he really asked me that. I said, “Tampon.”


So I gathered that Family Life wasn’t as creepy as Miguel had said. At the very least, he was learning and happy to share his knowledge with us. As long as he doesn’t end up sucking on a bottle of Woolite curbside, as Gene Wilder did in Woody Allen’s Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex, But Were Afraid to Ask, I think we’re OK.

OK, more than OK.

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