Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Birds and the Bees and the Stork

Book in Hand: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Burbery
Song in Mind: Today Was a Fairytale by Taylor Swift

The other day, Sex Education for Children was mentioned in one of our office lunch conversations. It seems there's a disparity in opinions about what age should sex education be taught to children. Some say be as honest about it as early as the first time they ask about it (that could be as early as 4 years old when they ask how are babies made) or as late as 12 years old at the onset of puberty. Funny enough, the topic came up again during a ride home with a friend.

The discussions reminded me of my own childhood where sex and anything pertaining to carnal activity was screened by my parents with utmost vigilance. Yes, they were the type to cover my eyes when actors kiss on TV. They only bring me to movies advertised in posters with a minimum of 54 bright colours and always has some sort of fluffy animal or an adorable kid with freckles featured in it. I was always sent upstairs when guests start bringing up adult conversations.

My parents NEVER sat down with me to discuss the Birds and the Bees. I had to learn from what I can glean from misplaced videotapes, Judith McNaught books, watching Little Women and my classmates. One can see how a young child may be so grossly misinformed.

As a Looney Tunes kid, I actually believed in the Stork who carries bundles of joy in a sling with their beaks. That was until I chanced upon an interesting videotape inside an aunt's house when I was 8. It wasn't my fault it was between Rocketman and the Last Action Hero, was it? All I knew was when I opened the flap, there was a picture of a man and a women doing interesting things. But before I could scrutinize it any further, a panicked shriek ensued from my yaya, the thing was snatched away from me, and she started babbling about "Bastos yan, wag mo sasabihin sa mummy at daddy mo na nakita mo yun ha? Papaluin ka nila." I never told. But that was when I started suspecting adults know something they're not telling me about.

I only had to wait three years before an enlightened classmate whipped out a 2nd year Biology textbook during recess, and like a guru, proceeded to divulge to us the truth about the Human Anatomy. Using a number 2 pencil, she pointed out things of men that goes into stuff of women. Then like some kooky flashback, I remembered the video tape and it all became clear. I had no concept of porn yet, so I decided it was an instructional video for people who didn't know how to make babies (well, I was still kinda right, wasn't I?)

Entresvous the Movie. In my last days of innocence, it was my utmost conviction that kissing scenes done by 2 actors (who, I was aware weren't really husband and wife in real life) were actually mirror tricks. You don't get it? They were actors, right? So they acted like they were kissing someone and there's a mirror in between them. It must be some camera miracle to make it look like their lips were actually touching. All these wobbly justifications crashed and burned when I watched Winona Ryder in Little Women. If you watched this film, you will remember Jo and Teddy's kissing scene in the woods. The tongue and the mishmashing and the Saliva. That could NOT be a camera trick. That's real gross spit!

Then romance novels with titles like 'Whitney, My Love' and 'Windmills of the Gods' started making the rounds in school and that was the end of innocence. At this point, there was no doubt about the How anymore. Books like these just gave us a very skewed, hi-dry explanation about the Why. And then years later, as adults, you hang on to this hard-earned knowledge and go totally paranoid if nothing goes like the way it did in these movies and books.

So if you ask me, YES. Kids have ferocious imaginations and need guidance. Parents should find some time (and courage) to talk to their kids about Sex. It's their call if they will tell them the truth gradually as they grow up. But tell them. As much as possible, tell them straight, and avoid aphorisms like the Stork and Birds and Bees, and Flowers and Rain. I heard these make for very weird fetishes once people grow up, haha. I know we're Catholics, and that might limit our explanations a bit. But maybe we shouldn't make it out as some dirty secret that only the perverse engage in. Save them therapy years and years later by teaching them to make good decisions. But more than making good and doing right, let's tell them how they must be brave and be responsible for the decisions they make, even when, especially when, it leads them to paths unexpected.

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