Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mysteries of adulthood revealed... maybe too much

Hump Day
By Brian Cormier
Moncton Times & Transcript
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Editorial Page

I never know how much I should censor myself around my friends' children now that most of them are hitting their teenage years. I keep talking to them like their babies, when in reality they could probably make me blush with what they know about the world.

Most of my friends are quite open with their kids about sex. To my knowledge, none of them have ever told them any tall tales about storks delivering them to mommy and daddy or about finding them in the garden among the cabbages. The garden analogy would be difficult to explain once the kid realizes that gardens don't grow in February, so why is his birthday during that month?

My own parents were quite open about it all. I still remember my shock when I found out where babies came from, feelings ranging from abject horror to wanting to burst out laughing.

"You're kidding me, right? I may only be five years old, but I didn't just fall off the Tonka turnip truck, you know!"

After that, I'd hear 'true stories' of how babies were made, mostly from kids whose parents decided to tell them tales along the lines of the stork and cabbage patch so as to avoid the truth.

One I can remember clearly, was simply bumping backsides with someone else and bam! Instant parenthood!

We barely knew the real names for all the parts, but somehow managed to convince the poor kid of the 'real way,' which pretty much horrified him to no end.

Many kids find out on the playground from their more curious friends who've already had 'the talk' with their parents. My god daughter and her brother first heard how babies were made from their friends. I happened to be visiting when they asked their parents if what they'd heard was true. Their parents promptly confirmed that what they'd heard was indeed accurate.

The son then exclaimed, 'My friend's mother said it feels really good!,' to which the adults in the room all burst out laughing at the innocent comment -- obviously in response to a perfectly understandable question from a child on whether or not the entire process was painful.

Of course, the friend's mother was eventually ribbed about the comment and wanted to die right there, only then realizing that her son was broadcasting her answer to the entire neighbourhood. I can't even remember her name, but when we laugh about the incident, I just call her 'Mrs. Feel Good.'

Seeing all these kids hit puberty has been an experience. The girls getting figures. The boys growing tall and strapping... and needing to shave.

If they ever get uppity with their parents in front me, I simply tell them, "Hey buddy, I remember when you used to go hide in the corner to do 'number two' in your diaper, so don't think you're so grown up!" Of course, it has more effect when they're friends are in the room at the same time, leading to much laughter and finger pointing.

Things are so open now. I remember that when I hit puberty, I didn't go around announcing it to everyone. When your voice cracks and you get whiskers, it's kind of obvious, but before then it's a bit more 'hidden,' so to speak... if you get my drift.

One friend's son, though, decided to announce at the kitchen table during supper that he -- uhm -- started to grow a 'lawn.' He was so proud and was grinning ear-to-ear as he announced his new 'crop' to me.

I sat there a bit stunned (not that that's anything new) and wondered how the heck to respond, until his father nudged me and said, "Well, say something!" What do you say to that?

"Well, congratulations," I managed to spit out, half wanting to laugh.

I always wondered what the big deal was about teaching sexual education in schools. I think it's a good idea for kids to get the proper information in a factual, scientific way. Perhaps it doesn't have to be done in Kindergarten, but at some point everyone needs to get the correct information, otherwise we'd have young married couples running around town searching for babies in cabbage patches or trying to shoot down storks as they flew over.

I had sex ed in high school and, quite frankly, am glad I did. Although I thought I knew everything, I obviously didn't. To this day, I remember a light going off and going, 'Oh, that's why!' when menstruation was explained. Until then, I had no clue.

Before that, I thought it was just horribly bad luck or some unexplained terrible affliction that females had to suffer all their lives.

Only then did I clue in to why I was being sent so frantically to the grocery store every so often as a kid to buy that box of 'baby mattresses' in the purple box with dandelions on the front.

Sex ed should be taught in school at an early age for scientific reasons, not religious or moral reasons.

We can't pretend that dinosaurs didn't walk the Earth no less than we can pretend babies are made by kissing, holding hands or playing dominoes.

And little kids sent to the stores by their mothers to buy 'baby mattresses' should at least realize the urgent need for their trip so they don't waste their time talking back!

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