It’s almost as busy at the school as the mall on boxing day. The parents get to find out from Saleema Noon exactly what she’s going to be telling the kids about… body stuff. You know, sex. And parts ‘down there.’ Where babies come from. One parent breathes into a bag. Another shuffles to the back of the room. I sit in the front row and regale everyone with stories of highly inappropriate questions I asked my male grade 4 teacher when I learned about s. e. x. (You can message me if you are curious. I don’t think I can actually write my question in a classy digital magazine!
I diligently took notes while listening to Saleema, and was thrilled to have learned from her. More than anything, I took away the idea that it’s never too early to talk to your kids about their bodies, and especially how to keep them safe. Their maturity will dictate what they absorb, and they will receive the messages when they are ready. She made a great point in saying that it’s not fun to talk about, but it’s like having an earthquake drill. You need to know.
We’ve got her tips for talking about sex with your kids.
Starting the Conversation About Sex
- Tell the kids that they are Body Scientists. This will add an educational and serious perspective to a typically giggly subject. Body scientists never let silliness get in the way of learning about bodies. Have a giggle now and then get back into science mode.
- ‘Boys, Girls and Body Science‘ by Meg Hickling is an excellent book to read with your kids, as is ‘What’s the Big Secret?’ by Laurie and Marc Brown.
- Be honest. It will establish yourself as a credible source of info. Then they will come to you to ask things later – because you don’t really want them getting the wrong info from someone else.
- Mention that they are too old to be using baby words. “Do you want to learn the words that real doctors use?”
- Encourage them to use a word instead of ‘sexy’, like they may hear in music or on the playground. ‘Sexy’ is an adult word as it has to do with sex, which is an adult thing.
Teaching Kids to Protect their Bodies
- BIG LESSON: We do not explore other people’s bodies. There are 3 private parts on the human body. These are parts of the body that no one can go on without your permission. You are the boss of your mouth. The breasts are private on both boys and girls. The third is such a scientific word that you may not have heard of it. Genitals. You can touch and explore these on your own body, but not on someone else’s.
- If someone did try to touch or explore your private parts you are allowed to scream ‘no’ or ‘stop’ on a bossy voice. And in this case you are allowed to do what it takes to get away – even kicking or punching. Then tell a grown up.
- You don’t get in trouble in this happens to you. If someone doesn’t believe you, keeps telling adults until someone believes you.
- Sex is for grown ups. Tell an adult if you see something that makes you uncomfortable. I asked aabout pornography, as my kids accidentally saw a magazine in a store once. Saleema suggested that I talk about it with the kids, and point out that it’s not real and not legal for kids to look at pornography. Like sex, it is for adults only.
Telling Kids about Boys’ Bodies
A penis helps with making babies. To make a baby you need an egg and a sperm. Testicles make sperm. Usually on boys one testicle is bigger than the other. Boys have two openings between their legs. The urethra is the opening at the end of penis and urine or sperm come out of here. The anus is the other opening and doctors say that stools come out of here.
Telling Kids about Girls’ Bodies
Girls have three openings between their legs. They have the ones that boys do plus an extra one. This third opening is called a vagina and is for a baby to come out of. A vagina is about as big as a middle finger unless a baby is coming out of it. But how does a baby get in there?
Telling Kids about How Babies Are Made
To start a baby you need an egg and a sperm. There are lots of ways to make a baby. Usually is its a man and a woman who want to make a baby, and they usually have sex to join the egg and the sperm. One child asked if you have to do sex when you grow up. The answer was a definitive Nope. Saleema then went on to explain that even if you want to have a baby you don’t have to have sex. Some people use a doctor to join the egg and the sperm. And some babies have two mommys and some babies have two daddies. Every family is different but all babies come from an egg and a sperm.
Once the baby is made it doesn’t actually grow in the tummy. Otherwise hamburgers and French fries would hit it in the head! It grows in the uterus. Usually it grows upside down because that’s the way it sometimes comes out.
Did you know that the birth canal is the first waterslide you ever went down? Another healthy way to be born is an operation called the cesarean. She dotted her information with pauses and constantly asked, “Are you wondering anything about this?” She is a genius.
Telling Kids about Condoms
I want to tell you about condoms so you won’t pick them up when you find them on the ground. Grown ups use condoms when they want to have sex without making a baby. They are clean when you buy them at the store but like a used tissue, if you find them on the ground they have germs on them. Get an adult. Same thing if you find a needle. Doctors use healthy needles to give you medicine but the ones you find on the beach or on the ground have germs.
Following Up With Your Kids on Sex Education
At the end of the talk, I think there were a few adults who learned a thing or two! We were encouraged to talk to our kids about what they had learned, and Saleema told the students to always go to an adult with their questions. “Even your teacher is a body scientist. Not your grade 9 brother. They think they know everything but really don’t.”
In closing (thank goodness) we all talked about appropriate places to talk about body science. We all agreed that the grocery store and the playground are not appropriate, but in private is a good place so that they don’t get confused. After all, a person’s body is WAY too important to get wrong information.
And yes, you deserve a break after having the conversation! (And a pat on the back)