It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Sex Ed

I am the totally cool mom when it comes to this stuff. My kids get straight information when they ask. Prissiness and prudery are not only not allowed in this household, they are derided as unhealthy dirty-mindedness. I don’t get embarrassed. The only way I’ve ever embarrassed my kids about sex and sexuality is by being enthusiastic about the subject in front of their friends. I’m working on that one…

No subject is taboo, and they know it. My children have never felt they needed to be coy about this aspect of their lives, unlike the 20 year old daughter of a friend of mine who, even though she is on the pill and brings her boyfriend to spend the night, gets indignant when mother says anything to indicate that she believes her daughter is sexually active. How stupid do they think we are, again? My children are entitled to their privacy, of course, but they don’t have to hide things to protect mum’s squeamishness.


I love the column Savage Love, which appears in a free local entertainment paper each week. I let my kids read it. The youngest (just turned 12) isn’t particularly interested yet, finds it either “boring”, “gross”, or responds with “I don’t get it”. That’s okay. She gets the information as she needs it, from a trusted and reputable source. Me. The other two read it.

Why do I let them read something so explicit? Because Dan Savage, for all his in-yer-face, aggressive, tough-talking persona, is very kind to the sexually innocent.

Take this weeks’s column, in which a teen complains that a 17-year-old friend is so obsessed with a character on Yu-Gi-Oh! that she refuses to have anything to do with actual boys her own age. They all fall short. “She constantly complains that none of the real guys ar our high school as are good as [him]. What can I do to help her?”

Savage’s reply (will I get in copyright trouble for this?):

“Your friend’s obsession is juvenile…but I wouldn’t call it pointless. Like a lot of high-school kids, your friend probably feels pressured to be sexually active…Most not quite-ready-for-sex teenagers hide behind Jesus’ skirts when their friends ask why they’re not fucking, but nonreligious kids have to be a bit more creative. Some, like your friend, invent grand/tragic sexual obsessions that prevent them from dating mere mortals. Your friend doesn’t want you to think she’s unhip, or that she isn’t just dying to have sex, or that she isn’t heterosexual, so she’s convinced you (and perhaps herself) that she’s obsessed with [the cartoon character]. And you know what? That’s just fine. Finding fault with all potential real-life boys is a way for her to avoid sexual experiences she’s not ready for. So just back off, okay?”

He’s abrasive, he uses colloquial terms – some would call them vulgar or even profane, but there’s no doubt what he means, which is good. But his bottom line? No one should be pressured to have sex before they’re ready.

This is a good message.

August 26, 2005 Posted by | sex | 11 Comments


From the archives. Three years ago.

It was naptime for Sweet Girl. She’d had her story on the couch, and being a Sweet Girl, it took about 40 seconds to settle her for her nap. Forty seconds in which Noisy Boy must be left alone downstairs, but that’s okay. Noisy Boy was building towers of blocks to smash down. It would be no problem to keep track of his actions. Lay her down, tuck her in, a quick kiss, and I’m on my way back downstairs.

It is silent.

Noisy Boy is alive. Phew.

Noisy Boy has found a quiet activity! He is is happy. Oh, so happy. Noisy Boy glistens and gleams. Noisy Boy’s hair protrudes from his head at odd angles in shiny clumps. Noisy Boy’s white shirt is strangely translucent. Not wet, but shiney and wax-paperish. Noisy Boy…

…has found an “empty” jar of Vaseline from the steps by the back door, awaiting tranfer to the blue recycling bin outside. In the forty seconds he was left untended, he has managed to entirely coat his head and much of his torso in clear grease. How? This jar was empty! Not enough grease in there to coat a bum, but plenty, it seems to coat a boy from stem to stern.

Oh, Lord. Where to start?

Stage one: Strip off the shirt.

Get out the paper towels. Apply to hair and pull slick strands through the towel wrapped round my hands. Great gobs of grease are removed in this way. We scrape his hair, his face, his arms, his belly, his back, his knees. Towel after towel goes in the garbage.

Stage two: richly soapy washcloth is applied to every inch of glistening skin. A thorough scrub, a brisk rinse, and he’s grease-free. On his skin. This leaves…

Stage Three:

The Hair

Cue sinister music: “ba-ba-ba-baaath”.

We repair to the tub. He was really, really good about the hairwashing. He really was. For at least the first six repeats. I tried everything: regular shampoo, greasy hair shampoo, hand soap… The next four washes weren’t so well received, and the final two were a fight to the finish. By then the poor babe was positively drooping in his misery, so I take pity on him – besides, my arms were getting shaky – and I dry him off.

Twelve hair-washes. Twelve! And he still looks like a duck after Exxon. Even when he’s thoroughly dry, his hair still looks wet, soaking wet, except that it’s dry, and it’s standing straight up on end. We’re both exhausted, though, so I put him to bed, an old towel over the pillow.

After nap, we rejoin the fray. I cannot send him home looking like this. Can’t be done. His father, a great guy, fond parent, nicely laid back and a great sense of humour, will think it’s hysterically funny, but his mother, Ms. Anal-Retentive Humour-Impaired Whiner, will not. (Was I surprised when they divorced two years later?)

This time I opt for dishwashing detergent (with Special Grease-cutting Formula!!) at the kitchen sink. It’s much more effective. After only four wash-and-rinses, I can see definite improvement. After another three, the hair in front is looking nearly normal. A final wash or two – I kinda lost count – and I throw in the towel. Literally. Figuratively. Enough is enough.

We spent the next half hour snuggled up, reading quietly, recovering. Even Noisy Boy has his limits.

Even then, after something like twenty washes, he looked odd. Sticky. Thankfully, dad picked him up that night. Dad also dropped him off the next morning, gleefully telling me that (as per my instructions) he had washed Noisy Boy’s hair a few more times with dish detergent that evening. I didn’t see Mom for the rest of that week. I don’t think she was speaking to me…

August 26, 2005 Posted by | eeewww, Mischief | 8 Comments