Quick Hit: Parents this could be you

If you haven’t been on Twitter today, you might have missed this. Warning you may want to read this out loud to people or cry laughing.

But what do they do with their legs?

Categories: education, Life, parenting


26 replies

  1. I don’t know that I ever asked my parents about the anatomical details of reproduction – then again, I was always a weird kid, having had an enthusiastic interest in human anatomy and physiology from the age of six, and reading my mother’s midwifery textbooks by the age of twelve. My questions were actually much more along the lines of “what does it feel like”, which was probably even more embarrassing for my mother to answer.

  2. My daughter once asked me why people have sex. My reply was “Because it’s fun, it feels good.” She seemed to be satisfied with that.

  3. I loved the bit where her daughter asked whether there might be any videos of humans mating on the internet, and she looked her in the eye and said ‘no’. Who says there’s no place for lying in sex ed?

    • Times like this I feel a bit like I’m the only person who’s discussed internet porn with a nine-year-old. And some of the mechanics of gay and lesbian sex, and sex re-assignment, and why people have sex when they don’t want babies, and masturbation, and contraception, and (approximately) how to use a condom, and abortion, and IVF, and artificial insemination, and why Tony Abbott is a fucking nightmare prospect for Australian women, and various other things.
      Nope, there’s no room for lying in sex ed in my house. And I really, really don’t see the point of waiting until puberty, with all of its accompanying embarrassment and unwillingness to talk with adults about sexual topics, before allowing topics to be brought up. I’d much rather my kid get accurate information from me than inaccurate information from schoolmates and friends.
      But mainly, while realising that this is fictionalised, I’m still a bit boggled by the idea of a curious kid getting all the way to age nine – nine! – without the slightest beginning of a clue about reproductive biology.

      • I discussed internet porn with both of my sprogs when they were closer to seven years old and starting to do their own searches online. I explained about how I had the image-search filtered, and why, and where they could look instead for good information about how sex works instead of relying on random stuff that was just meant for titillation. I’d already talked to them about the basics of reproduction and sex for pleasure (and not just heterosex), and how masturbation was considered best managed as a private hobby rather than a public exhibition, and answered various of their questions that led into other areas.
        It really is best that kids know facts rather than myths, and who to ask and where to look for more facts, isn’t it?

  4. testing testing – at least one person is having trouble commenting.
    eta: well it seems to be working OK for me!

  5. I guess when I was responding I was thinking in terms of what questions my kids have asked about sex which I had not quite anticipated. Turns out the answer is very few which I rather suspect is because I have had a fairly similar range of discussions as Lauredhel with my lot largely instigated by me often going off on a tangent from something the kids have said. Or when watching nature documentaries, which they were all big fans of from pre-school years onwards. In fact I think the first time I talked about human reproduction with my oldest I began with “You know how mammals reproduce? Well, humans are mammals.” because we’d been watching one of the David Attenborough series.
    I won’t lie in response to a question from my kids about anything (disclaimer: that’s an ideal I know I fall short of sometimes) and I seem to have missed the feel awkward about talking about sex programming so the humour of this sort of thing doesn’t quite work for me – though the legs thing invokes some rather amusing imagery!

    • mimbles, I missed out on the embarrassed-about-sex-ed programming too. It must be much more difficult for those who didn’t manage to deflect it.

  6. tigtog: I am getting repeated 404s when I hit “submit” on comments on this post.

  7. [Mod note from Mary: several comments of mine edited into one here for easier reading.]
    Lauredhel: I wonder about the extent to which adult ignorance is feeding into this: we cannot educate with insufficient education ourselves.
    I had pretty open parents and fairly uncensored access to reading material: on this topic I read a 1970s edition of Sheila Kitzinger’s Natural Pregnancy and Childbirth aged 8 or so. (Which was great, because as an educational resource it probably was limited itself to a reading age of 10 to 12 although the subject matter wasn’t simplified.) But there was still lots and lots of things I didn’t know about human reproductive biology until I was an adult, for example, I knew almost nothing about the menstrual cycle other than that one menstruated and at some point when one wasn’t menstruating one ovulated. I didn’t know for a long time that the time span between fertilisation and implantation was many days long.
    Not that one would have to communicate this to a child all in one go, but at least for me, the more solid my background in a subject the less I will feel weird about trying to pass that knowledge on. There’s a lot of room for decent sex education and biology education for adults! On top of the embarrassment of the societally taboo subjects, there’s the fact that the taboos have left a lot of adults with not a lot more knowledge than was passed onto them at their version of The Talk.
    To give another anecdote, my husband reports that he believes he was off sick on THE ONE DAY that his high school class’s Physical Education unit covered the ovary-uterus-vagina biology, and at least one of our male friends reached age 20 as a product of NSW public education without having learned that some people menstruate or the basics of what was involved. And this is the basis from which parents are expected to in turn provide sexual and related education for their pre-teens. (These particular men have made use of the Internet to make up their deficits, but they could easily not have done so.)
    And this is without getting into, say, the mechanics of gay and lesbian sex, or for that matter non-PIV sex of any kind, which wasn’t taught in schools at all that I was aware of.
    I think it’s definitely a big leap from “your genitals are super-private and we touch them for cleaning” to “many adults consensually touch genitals for pleasure” too and I’m not sure the “wait until you are asked” model actually works in this respect. I reacted much as Mulan did*, although I think I kept it to myself. If I had had some idea that there were some situations where people in society have genital contact, it wouldn’t have had to come across in one giant lump of shock.
    * I knew about sperm, ova, pregnancy etc, I did not know how sperm was typically introduced to the vicinity of the ovum. So I found out about both the process of mammalian sexual reproduction and the fact that people sometimes consensually touch genitals at the same time and it was a shock.

  8. For what it is worth, I appear to have tripped a bug/misconfig when posting the phrase “gay and lesbian sex” which made my comment not submit at all, so people may wish to find an alternative wording of that until tigtog reports back.

    • Thanks for the bug report, Mary – Lauredhel had the same problem earlier, and she also used the same phrase. It’s nothing that we’ve manually added to the filters (the standard filters don’t even throw a 404 anyway) so I wonder what’s going on?

  9. Ok, it won’t let me do it either. How about just “gay and lesbian”?

  10. How about the word ” sex”?

  11. OK, it appears that the blog is not letting us post about g-y sex, or l-sb–n sex, but will let us post about gays or lesbians not having sex, or about sex which gays and lesbians are not having.

  12. This is through the front page interface – if I go and post through the admin interface I can post what I like without the redirect to the 404 page.
    OK, time to fire up the back-of-beyond backend of the blog.

  13. I wonder if this 404 is related to the 404 I had when I tried to post that link (discussing same-sex marriage)?

    How very annoying that your software has some censorship settings that are in complete contradiction to your principles!

  14. Every time I see a 404 now I’m going to wonder if Sopa’s stopping the quiltbag happy folk dancing.

  15. Nope, there’s no room for lying in sex ed in my house. And I really, really don’t see the point of waiting until puberty, with all of its accompanying embarrassment and unwillingness to talk with adults about sexual topics, before allowing topics to be brought up. I’d much rather my kid get accurate information from me than inaccurate information from schoolmates and friends.
    God, I wish I had that. Would have worked things out so much sooner, and made my teenage (and early 20s!) life so much better.
    but will let us post about gays or lesbians not having sex, or about sex which gays and lesbians are not having.
    Just as well, I could write entire essays on the subject.

  16. Could you do a global text search of your WordPress code/config files for these phrases? One possible check.

  17. So I’m guessing this book wasn’t part of everyone else’s growing up? I can’t remember it ever not being there among the other kids’ books.
    I agree with Laudredhel that the kid in the article is implausible – so curious, so smart, and yet the subject never occurred to her before she was nine?

  18. Thanks for the giggle, Aqua. I need it today.
    I was thinking it was a bit implausible from a nine year old, too. But I confess I’m not entirely sure how much my six year old knows. We’ve tended to go with answering questions when they come up and there may be gaps. He has witnessed his sibling being born, though (albeit underwater) so I think he’s fairly clear on that part of the process. We’ve also definitely had discussions about the difference between biological relationships and social relationships (such as the fact that everyone has a biological mother and father, but that their family may contain a range of different people).
    Oh, and I don’t lie to kids either. Sometimes I refuse/choose to tell them things but not a direct lie.

  19. My nearly 9 year old only asked where babies came from late last year (9 in Feb) when he was told that he would have a new cousin soon. He knew that he and his sister had both been cut out of my ‘tummy’ (both caesars) but up until then it hadn’t occurred to him to wonder how they got there, probably because he was quite little when I was pregnant with his sister and while there have been other babies for other family members and friends subsequently it for some reason had never piqued his interest. So I’m not surprised by her late interest nor her forensic interest in the details of it all. FTR my son was disgusted, doubly so when he realised that his parents had also done it. Then even more disgusted when he realised that it had happened twice because he also had a sister. At his request we haven’t discussed it further, yet.

  20. David, now almost 15, has been known to literally run away (laughing usually) when I’ve started talking about that stuff 🙂 I may have resorted to speaking loudly down the hallway on occasion.

  21. Babette Cole’s “Mummy Laid An Egg” has a doublepage with the words “Here are some ways Mummies and Daddies can fit together.”
    It has many (child-like) pictures featuring; some balloons, a space hopper, a party hat, a clown’s nose and huge grins.
    …I sometimes wonder if the Tiny Tyrant is going to have some funny ideas about just what’s involved in the sex act.

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