The Anatomy Lesson

Last week, Nate the Great of did a guest post ( on these pages. She blogged about a conversation she had with her teenage boys about sex education.

While my children are younger than Nate’s, there have already been inquiries down that road. I like to say I handled it smoothly, but I’ll let you be the judge. The article below appeared in 201 Family – a local magazine.


My first grade son asked me the name of a female body part. He was in the bath and doing his usual playing thing – putting water in his mouth and then spitting it out as if he were a refined decorative fish at an upscale establishment. While I find it silly and annoying, he does it quite well and smiles and giggles each time he does it. So, as long as he keeps the water in the bathtub, I grin and bear it and let him have his good time.

I popped my head up from the Wall Street Journal. Egypt could wait. This was important. “What? What did you say?”

He repeated with all seriousness, “What is the female body part called again?  They don’t have a penis – right?

This is the same boy who just that day freaked out because he could not find his SpongeBob video and who the day before screamed as if the house was on fire wanting to know how much four plus six equaled. Striving not to let my face reveal the shock I felt, I replied, “That’s right, girls’ don’t have a penis. Only boys do.”

“All girls have the same thing?”

“Yes,” I answered him,” I paused, not quite knowing how to go on with the conversation. How much did I need to say?  Surely, he was not ready for a detailed anatomy lesson. Was he going to ask me where do babies come from next? Had he heard the word sex? I was definitely not ready. I glanced at my watch – when would my wife be home?  “Why are you asking me this? Where did you ever hear this?” I grew up the youngest of four boys, and at his age, I told people I hated girls.  My grandfather used to tease me and make me repeat “I hate girls.”  It made me feel like I shouldn’t say it, and he seemed to find it amusing.

“I just want to know.”

“Do kids in your class talk about this? The school bus, kids are talking about this on the school bus – right? It’s okay, just tell me.”  I could almost swear this was not on my mind in first grade.  One of my most vivid memories of first grade is my best friend and neighbor, Marc, and I walking around the school yard playing follow the leader with our eyes closed. We would take turns: one day he would lead and I would put my hands on his shoulders and the next day I would lead and his hands would be on my back.

No water spitting now. He was saying some word to himself quietly trying to get it right. “I just want to know.”

I tried to press him again about where he first heard the word but was getting nowhere.  He barely tells me anything. We laugh and play together but rarely does he reveal the bigger stuff to me.  He saves that for his mom. She’s a better interrogator than me. I don’t have the stomach for it. She’s fierce and gets him to talk. It’s a good thing.

I was stuck. Do I tell him? Does this ruin his innocence?  Does it start him down a path that could end in sexual depravity?  Or is it an innocent question?  Is he discovering himself and curious? It could be an intellectual inquiry.  I took a deep breath and quietly answered him, “It’s called a vagina.”

“What,” he said in that abrupt nearly harsh manner he often says the word.

Now, it was my turn to repeat myself though this time I said it in a more regular tone of voice. I said, “It’s called a vagina.”

He looked up at me curious as ever and said, “Every girl has one?”

“Yes, every girl has one.”

He seemed content with this answer. He started repeating the word over again though it did not sound like I had said it. I didn’t bother trying to correct his pronunciation. I was relieved to have the conversation ended. I know he is growing up, is curious, and is exposed to certain things that I might not want him to be. However, I am much more at ease with this being one of those conversations that belongs in the category of we’ll deal with it then sort of thing. Does 21 sound reasonable?


Nate Sees My Future?

MMK is playing host today. Nate the Great of has agreed to do a guest post. She, yes Nate is a she (learn about the history of her name by following this link I have been following her blog for about six weeks. One reason I particularly like her blog is she writes about the interaction she has with her teenage boys. The conversations and interactions are often head shaking. I figure this is my future, so I should study up what it will be like in the MMK household in a few years.

Thank you for the introduction, MMK.  Being asked to guest blog for MMK is an honor.  He is a talented writer and gives a much needed perspective of parenting, from the father’s view.  MMK’s style of writing is both intelligent and approachable. I’ve enjoyed reading theparenting adventures with his young sons and getting to know him as a person.

I am a wife and mother to three boys ages 5, 14 and 16.  My full-time job is caring for my family.  I am also in the middle of a midlife something – which explains why I am going a little insane.

Thanks MMK for allowing me space on your blog. Good luck with the boys in the teen years, you are going to need it.

Today’s blog is conversation I had with my teenage boys a few years ago about sex education. I am not squeamish about talking to the boys about sex. The boys on the other hand can think of nothing worse.

The Birds and the Bees

“Sex education may be a good idea in schools, but I don’t believe the kids should be given homework.”- Bill Cosby

Driving in the car I asked my big boys if Sex Ed had been taught.

“Boys, have you had your Sex Ed classes yet?” – Mom

“Not us. And hopefully we won’t ever have it.” – Tall Boy

“Oh, you are going to have Sex Ed buddy. They usually teach it at the end of the year, just to make the kids crazy.” – Old Boy

“Well, I am not going to the class….no way.  We had it in fifth grade and it was the horrible.” – Tall Boy

“You better be prepared. It’s worse in sixth grade. The teachers go into a lot more details about stuff.” – Old Boy

“Details? What do you mean details. Like what?” – Mom

“Well, you know stuff about relationships, being ready for sex and birth control. You know, stuff like that.” – Old Boy.

“Birth control? Oh, Jeez.  Do they talk birth control for men and women or just women?” – Mom

“They talk about birth control for men, Mom. Jeez, guys have sex too.” – Old Boy

“Thank you for the lovely reminder. I think I figured that part out. Do they talk about condoms? Do they show different types of birth control? Have you ever seen a condom?” – Mom

“MOM!” – Tall Boy and Old Boy.

“What? This is an important conversation. We have talked about sex plenty of times before. I want you boys to feel comfortable about talking to me about these things. By the way, if you need to look at a condom, Dad has some at home.” – Mom

“Oh, God.  Mom, we don’t want to hear about you and Dad. Come on.  I do not want to see a condom. Please get me out of the car.” – Tall Boy

“You know my mother didn’t say one word about the ‘birds and the bees’. I had to learn everything from my friends.” – Mom

“Grandma was a smart lady. I do not want to talk about this with you Mom, not driving in the car to school. Let’s end this conversation now…please.” – Old Boy

When I was young I always wished my mom had taken a little more time to explain how the whole sex thing worked. I had Sex Ed in sixth grade, but it only covered a bit about the female time of the month and showed some side views of male and female parts. Which by the way, was VERY interesting. Sex Ed did not answer the question I wanted answered, so I asked my teacher.

“Mrs. Shell, I was wondering?  What does it feel like to have sex? It must feel good right? Otherwise, why would anyone do it? – Young Nate ( inquisitive sixth grader)

“Well…um…that is an interesting question.  I mean, it does not really matter what it feels like when you are in love.” – Mrs. Shell (bewildered teacher)

I let the conversation about Sex Ed with my boys end. They will have their Sex Ed classes soon. I am sure the agony of talking with mom about sex, will be replaced with the torture of hearing their teachers talk about it. If the boys ever have questions about anything I’ll be ready, even how it feels to have sex. I’ll just make sure when it comes to the mechanics to direct them to my in-house expert, my husband.