Thursday, December 02, 2004

Almost 12, The Story of Sex

I was eleven years old and my mother decided that I should read 'Almost 12, The Story of Sex'...I assume, to absolve her from having to have 'the talk' herself. I looked at it in wonder, amazed that I was being asked to read a book about sex. I wish I could remember how much I actually knew before I started reading through Mr. Taylor's very sterile interpretation.

I do have one poignant memory of my elementary school best friend B calling me into the girl's bathroom when we were in 3rd grade...
"Pssst, A_____, come in here. Hurry!"
I walked in to the stall with her.
"What?"
"I found out what it's called!" She was always the teacher since her parents were divorced and her mom had boyfriends.
"What? What what's called?"
"The worm...ya know, the snake..."
Of course my eight year old interest was piqued.
"What's it called?!"
"A peeee-nis."
"Eeeewwwww. No it's not! Don't say that again!"

So, by the time I was eleven and received this book, I am assuming that I knew all the proper names for all the 'parts', but after that I can't be sure. I don't remember much of what the book said, but I do remember that it was traumatizing. It was sterile yet graphic-- if that makes any sense. It was all told in a medical way but with mental images that I was not yet equipped to handle. There was more than one occasion that I actually cried and told my mom I wouldn't read it. "This is disgusting. How can you make me read this? What kind of Mother would force their kid to read this?!" If I recall correctly, she told me to stop being a baby and just read.

Another young memory involving sex (or the lack of knowledge thereof) embodied the fact that my parents joined the Presbyterian Church and became Born-Again Christians after I was born. I was the only one that was born during the 'unholy' time in their lives. I was convinced that because of this I was surely doomed to eternal hellfire. Somehow I had conceived the idea that a baby could be made in one of two ways. Through the lusty passion of the unsaved or the mingled thoughts and wishes (and maybe even body heat) of the Saved. I knew that my inception had involved the former and had pictured all the seedy scenarios of my parents sinful clandestine union in a shady motel...and I alone would be punished for how I came into the earth. At whatever age I was when the first of a long litany of foster children (or anyone that happened to be homeless and washing their feet with Windex on a park bench) came to live with us; my parents started a dinner ritual where anyone could ask any question they wanted and receive an honest answer. I sat there each night trying to ask. Trying to work up the nerve. I needed to know if they had had sex to have me. I never did find the nerve to ask...

So, all this runs through my mind as my boys get older. I taught them most of the real words right from the beginning. A doctor on Oprah said that she would recommend parents begin having 'the talks' at six. SIX! That's just 22 days away for Justice and I answer that with an emphatic NO WAY! I realize that knowledge is power and all, but are there a few instances where kids can remain innocent and unaware...at least for a bit more? When it comes to our time for the talks -whenever we finally decide when that should be --it will not be Mr. Kenneth Taylor's 'Story of Sex' that they hear...that much I do know.

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