I am man enough to admit when I am wrong. In fact, I realize that as a man I am nearly always wrong in some fashion. Recently, I have been surprised by discussions my child has in school at guidance class. I was irritated at the school but that may have been wrong and I have some thoughts on the subject I would like to share.
Allow me to preface this with the fact that all the school talks were legitimate and probably life lessons that children need. That being said, I was a little blindsided by learning about the talks through worksheets crammed in the bottom of backpacks. I couldn’t believe the taboo discussions or the uncomfortable topics. We are guilty of sheltering somewhat so the reaction was reasonable for any parent. I cast out for opinions on Facebook and waited for the social media inflammatory response to cause an itch for the school system.
As always the Facebook reactions were two-sided with arguments each way. Under the surface was another discussion; When should we teach kids difficult, controversial, or uncomfortable topics. Drawing on my own pristine childhood I quickly realized that I learned about most of the inappropriate topics at an early age.
Difference in boys and girls was in preschool, there was a girl who would go around to the boys on the playground and flash them by holding out the front of her pants. They looked in horror to find that someone had taken her penis. Oh the humanity, that poor soul. How would she play bathtub semi-air guitar or write her name on the sidewalk while peeing. I think we all felt sorry for her condition, unaware that it affected about half of our classmates. An anatomy lesson might have helped us be less concerned.
The school bus held the most sway over my questionable learning. By third grade I was already swearing at a twelfth grade level. I knew all about the human anatomy and all the ways it could be “combined” although the baby process was still mysterious. Drugs weren’t around until middle school except for the kids who would bring cigarettes they stole from home. Bullying, fights, politics, and alliances were all critical skills on the school bus. It was a weird kind of buffer between school and home where kids could learn without adults being made uncomfortable. Genius really. But my kids don’t ride a school bus. How will they ever learn?
What should a parent do?
Luckily most of those topics are standard curriculum these days. We have found completed worksheets on domestic violence, appropriate touching, and the dangers of alcohol. We could debate how these things are presented like maybe the violence worksheet shouldn’t have a sentence that is “When my parents fight I feel ______.” Maybe they could not plant the seed that parents will fight and make them feel anything. My true struggle is the thought that for children who need these talks it is probably too late and other children are blissfully unaware and might have a shot at staying that way for another year or two. What to do?
First we all need to take a deep breath and realize that childhood innocence cannot last forever. We can’t keep their mind behind an iron curtain and leave them to process things too late in life. We have to let go of happy thoughts and step into the horrible, horrible world ahead of them. This step will start with a list of things we naturally try and avoid.
These are the pending topics (individual fears may vary);
- Drugs (How do you explain that drugs are awful but at the same time highly addictive. They are addictive because at some point they felt awesome and kids are smart enough to figure that out.)
- Sexual Congress (If I use Legos as a visual aid then I can metaphorically illustrate the concept of hetero and homosexuality and the logistics therein but I don’t want to mislead them about what territories are involved in good old fashioned baby making. For the life of me it feels like showing them porn to talk about the naked body)
- Puberty and the Future Torrent of Vaginal Bleeding (Five women in the house, the cotton industry and I aren’t ready.)
- Sex In General (Again, this is creepy to think about explaining)
- Prostitution for Fun and Profit (A reality in our old neighborhood for sure)
- Swearing at Homeless People from Moving Vehicles (Be nice to others)
- Crop Dusting People You Don’t Like with Farts (Art of War)
You see what I mean? Who would want to talk about any of that with a kid? Much less, girls who have a daily goal of buying the new My Little Pony or getting some form of candy. But I’m regressing here. We already decided that they need to know the tough subjects and school has been kind enough to start the discussion. I think that I was too hasty in my displeasure and that maybe school could cover more topics. I have added a few suggested books that may help.
Then we could cover sex and prostitution with the next book and reinforce drugs through a variety of related chapters.
Then there is the fact that dangerous people are all around us and we have to be prepared for life in a dangerous world. This book could cover bullying, assault, guns, and human body part black markets.
Then as reinforcement there could be a final book that summarizes all of the dangers of life and gives examples of horrible things that have happened to really young people so our kids will know that the danger is now!
Yes I am sure that this book series will solve all of the problems concerning education of children on the hard topics. I will probably be a millionaire for my discovery and I may not have time to respond to the wave of fan mail because I am preparing to travel across the country and hold parenting workshops.
If you have ever been troubled by new knowledge that makes it home from school, this post is for you. You’re welcome.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.