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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sex Education

I asked Little Boy at lunch today (as he was wolfing down a delicious bowl of ramen) - "Do you know how people have sex?"

He looked at me with a bunch of noodles half hanging out and mumbled - "Mom, I am eating."

But I persisted. The Daughter went through Mommy's Sex Education module at 8 years old. I had almost forgotten about Little Boy... and since we're in the middle of the school holidays and Little Boy is 10 years old, it is as good a time as any.

So, I explained sex to Little Boy. I find that it's easier to explain the birds and the bees to children before they actually reach puberty. Nothing is happening inside their bodies yet. They are not yet puzzled and afraid of the things that happen every month, or that go whoosh in the night. It's all still theoretical. It's all thinking... not yet feeling. One can explain the mechanics of sex very properly with the help of a picture book from the library.

And since they aren't yet at the age to question authority nor practise over independent thinking, it is also easier to get them to accept and understand the social conventions that surround the sexual act - marriage, childcare responsibilities, family responsibilities, partner fidelity...

And in the same way that babies can accept that their Grandma lives inside the phone receiver (because Grandma's voice comes out from there), an 8 year old doesn't really question how the man's "ahem" gets into the woman's "baby bag". That's just the theoretical science of it. There aren't any ooohs or aaahs or ewwwwws.

I really do want to be the one to teach my children about sex. Because if someone else (or the internet) teaches them, I'm not sure they will explain the social responsibilities of the sexual act at all... or in a manner acceptable to me. The Daughter could well learn that one should try out a few partners before settling on the best. Little Boy could learn that it's ok to love 'em and leave 'em.

From sex, one naturally progresses to talking about dating and about marriage. The Daughter learnt early on that a woman has a shelf life. It doesn't make sense to waste time in relationships that will lead nowhere. Unless one sees a possible future with someone, just stop it there and then. Of course, the possible future may not materialise, but that's better than knowing that nothing will materialise and waste time. It takes time to build an understanding. For 2 trees to graft together into a single strong unit, it takes years. And when a break up happens, time is wasted and people get hurt.

I once sat down to lunch with a male friend who shared that he and his brothers all have steady girlfriends (for many years) but none wish to commit to marriage. In my head, I was quietly disapproving. Why should you be wasting the girls' time? If you aren't willing to commit, let them go so that they can find partners who will commit.

I went so far as to point out men our family knew whom I thought good husbands and boyfriends... and other men whom I thought poor husbands and boyfriends. All this was done because I feared... I so feared that she would choose poorly. Anyway, I have done my best. If she still makes a stupid choice, I know I tried my best to protect her.

What did Little Boy learn? He was told "Don't go around having sex with girls any old how yeah? You don't wanna get trapped into marrying someone who won't make a good spouse. Besides, later when we go home, Mommy will share with you close-ups of all the awful bugs that cause venereal disease. We will also learn the types of pain and death caused by each."


Blur Ting said...

You're such a good and responsible mum!

Malar said...

Great mum! I thought it's the most difficult topic to discuss with the kids!

petunialee said...

Ting - Gee... thanks. It was easier because my first born is a girl... and I am female. I wrestled quite long before I approached Little Boy (after I bugged The Husband to talk to him to no avail). But since I had done it the first time with The Daughter, it was easier to approach it with Little Boy.

petunialee said...

Malar - Having done it twice, I must say it isn't as bad as what I had imagined. And the good thing is, once the communication lines are open on this topic, it makes it really easy to sit down in front of your teenager and give in-her-face reminders once in a while... or ask point-blank questions about what could have happened that should not have. It just makes it easier to be there and available for the child.

Wen-ai said...

Little Boy must be puzzled by the timing of the discussion! While he was eating noodles! ;)

petunialee said...

Wen-ai: Yup... yup... he sure was.