A few weeks before school ended, my daughter Ellie brought home a letter saying that the entire 5th grade would be undergoing a 2-day "Family Life" class. ("Family Life" apparently is the New Millennium code-name for "Sex Ed"). I gladly signed permission and sent her on her way, relieved that some of the pressure was off me. Over the past few months, I have tried to tell Ellie a few things pertaining to the oh-so-dreaded puberty but have been met with looks of disdain and disgust. For example when I explained that she would probably start her period in the next year or two, she took it like a mature 10-year old by promptly sticking her fingers in her ears and screaming "La La La La....." When I suggested that she start wearing a Training Bra she reacted with a yelp, running to her room and slamming the door.
My parents never sat me down and had "the Talk". As a result I was completely in the dark about all things pertaining to puberty. At the age of 10 after a painful bike crash, I was convinced that the bike had impregnated me. I began to become obsessed that if anything even brushed against my "private parts" the result would be an unwanted baby. One day while jumping on my parents brown velvet LaZBoy chair I landed spread-eagle on the arm-rest. Not only did it knock the wind out of me, but in my 10-year old wisdom, I was convinced that I was knocked up. I would spend endless nights literally punching myself in the stomach trying to dislodge the brown-velvet human/chair fetus that I was convinced was growing inside of me. I agonized over how I would explain the pregnancy to Mom and Dad.
I was eventually saved by the mandatory 6th grade "Sex Ed" class, which basically consisted of of a filmstrip showing crudely drawn body parts and explained in 1970's terminology about the "hair down there" and the how the groovy sperm (which only came from a male human, and thankfully not a Schwinn bike or brown velvet La-Z-Boy chair) had to meet up with the foxy lady-egg in order to make a baby. Although I was relieved to no longer be in the dark, I was simultaneously horrified by the images in front of me. When the term "menstruation" was mentioned (along with a corresponding outline of a woman's reproductive system) I could feel my blood sugar level dropping to the single digit range and began sweating more than Bruce Jenner doing a sprint on the surface of the sun. I remember being both horrified and fascinated at the same time.
As an adult I vowed to be open about sexuality with my children. No child of mine would think that a swift kick to the crotch would cause pregnancy, or have a meltdown the day they came face to face with a pubic hair. But to be honest, when the time came I left it to my husband to have "the talk" with my son, and was relieved that my daughter Ellie would be forced to watch the "Sex filmstrip" in a dark classroom surround by her peers, where she would not be able to put her fingers in her ears and scream, "La, La, La, La....."