Monday, 27 May 2013

Let's Talk About Sex, Baby

When I was eight I had something happen to me that was akin to the first ten minutes, or the infamous warning sign section of an after school special.  An authority figure yelled at me and then pinched me really hard in an inappropriate place because I wasn't finishing up a project fast enough.*  There were no witnesses and because I had been yelled at and "got in trouble" I was embarrassed and ashamed.  I did, however, cry to my classmate and friend A that day and she, thankfully, told her mom who immediately called my parents who immediately took action.

I still remember the conversation, in the coat room of an OV's restaurant for my eighth birthday where my parents tried to explain to me that I had done nothing wrong and why I needed to tell them when an adult acted in a way that made me uncomfortable.  They also reiterated that while respecting adults is important that, my body belonged to me and that no one should yell at me, bully or ever touch me without my permission.  In retrospect I feel sorry for them, trying to explain difficult concepts in the black and white world of a third grader.    I can only imagine what would have happened today where tolerance for bad behaviour is much lower.

This weekend I asked my mom about the situation, whether or not she was horrified that I hadn't gone to them.  As a parent I have a new level of concern over the terrible behaviour of the person and the way that I was isolated when they pinched me.  My mom told me that she was more relieved that I had told someone and that person had done the right thing and that was what was important.  Also that I had learned something really valuable before things had gone further. 

How do we arm our kids to deal with something like this?  One of our first steps towards protecting the minions is knowledge.  We have been teaching them the correct names for their body parts.  One of our favourite tools for this is Kathy Stinson's The Bare Naked Book.  It's a perfect story for one of us to read while we get bath time babies ready for bed and teach them the correct names for everything from hair on their heads to the tips of their toes.**

Last week I came across a great article on Bunch Family about teaching your Toddlers about Sex Education.  It boasted China's excellent sex education for young children, including the use of anatomically correct puppets and gives great tips on empowering your kids with education.

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Image via Wikipedia
In a The Wonder Years kind of way I learned something important from my mom this week.  Sometimes bad things happen, it's the way we deal with these situations that really teaches our children about life.  A few years after the pinching incident I explored dealing with unpleasant situations through school enforced guidance class sessions where we watched and evaluated episodes of Degrassi Junior High.  I wonder when I can start teaching my kids about life via the kids of Degrassi street?    

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*Not that there is a appropriate place to pinch anyone, other than on the cheeks, if you're over 80 years old.
**It also helps negate the fact that my darling husband thought it was funny when Molly proclaimed that my breasts were "Balls" and that every now and then she yells "BALL" and smacks me in the chest.

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