i wish i could talk to my students the way i talk to my children


Kids want to know. Want to have the conversation. Want to hear it from someone they trust. Kids want to talk about sex. They do. They know it’s out there. They know it’s happening. But they have no one to talk to. Because? Well, because it’s taboo for kids so young to have that conversation. I mean, really, how many adults believe that if you talk to kids about sex that kids will take that information and use it. Use it for real, and actually go out and have sex. Lots of adults believe it. Believe if you talk about it, that means you are giving them permission to act on it. Or, they believe the opposite. Don’t talk about it. Even if kids ask. About sex. About what it is. Or what this or that means. Because, well, it’s embarrassing for them, the adult, to talk about an adult thing with such a young kid. That the best way to handle such a conversation is to ignore it, and to change the subject as quickly as you can. But, I am telling you, kids want to know. They want to have the conversation. With someone who is informed, and will tell them the truth.

Long ago, when Elizabeth was, maybe, five years old, she asked me where babies come from. I answered her with a question of my own. Where do you think they come from? She thought for a moment, and in her small, young girl voice she questioned From here? pointing to her belly button. Not that I was shy about the conversation, in fact I embraced it, loved where it was going, but I also knew she was teeny tiny and could only handle so much. So I simply answered something like, Sounds good. And that was that. Over the years she’d asked simple questions that I knew were building up to more in-depth important sex questions, and every time, without hesitation, I’d answer her, based on her question. But, wait, she wondered one day, how does the baby get in there? She must have been about 8, 9, or 10 years old at the time, and I matter-of-factly told her. Yes I did! I knew she was ready for the info so I told her, using vocabulary she’d understand. Oh, is what she said, with interest, seemingly happy to know something maybe many of her friends knew nothing about. And so it went. We talked. About everything sex. Over the years. We talked openly, without embarrassment. And, along the way, her two younger brothers learned that they too could ask me questions and talk about things they wanted to know. Things about sex. Things they heard, or read about but didn’t understand what it meant. They’d ask as casually as if they were asking what was on TV. And, you know what, the best thing is – for Liz, my one and only daughter, a girl I wanted to grow up with a strong sense of self respect – did just that.  When high school was all said and done for her, the main thing that prevented her from ever doing anything too emotional with a boy was due to our open conversations. About sex. And me explaining how the intense emotions involved should be saved for when she was ready to handle such relationships. I know this because she told me so.

I wish I could talk to my students the way I talk to my children because, they too, are curious and want to know the facts. They know things, and have heard things. I mean, how can they not with all the information so available to them. Information that makes them wonder, interests them. But really, all they want to know are the facts. And they just wish someone would talk to them. Have a conversation with them. To help them make wise choices. That’s all, really.

What’s a 5th grader doing with a condom?


Alert! Alert! What’s a condom doing on an elementary campus? Who knows? Except for the kid, who was clutching it in his fist, dug deep into his pocket. Clutching it deep until he got caught. Not by a teacher. But by some other kids. Kids who screamed eeww! and gross! They kept screaming as they ran away, looking for someone to tell. As they were running, breathing deep, trying to get the word out, the kid quickly ran to the boy’s bathroom and flushed that plastic encased circular-shaped rubberized gadget – could it be considered a gadget? – down the fastest flushing toilet. Whew! he sighed. Gulp! he swallowed when he was approached just outside the door, by an angry looking adult, who whisked him away, straight to the man in charge.

During the lunch hour, an innocent kid, someone without a clue, but someone who was considered a witness, was asked what he saw. That poor kid felt nervous, didn’t know what to say, until, well, he just blurted that the other kid, the one who was in trouble, had something gross, something I don’t want to talk about. Oh, the poor kid. He just wanted life to go back to normal. Back to normal 5th grade things, like foursquare and climbing on the jungle gym.

The condom kid cried. Said he found it, at his home, in his much older brother’s truck. He didn’t think it was a big deal, until it became one. He thought it’d be funny, maybe blow it up like a balloon. Boy was he wrong. That’s not a funny, entertaining thing to do. Not at school, anyway. Not in front of adults trying to teach morals and values. No way. No how. Not there. But, oh my goodness, did that one little, or maybe it was big, condom start the buzz of conversation of other interested youngsters. Kids who were curious. Curious about things like that. Things like condoms, and what they are meant for. Oh geez! Later in the day, when all was dealt with, the kid, the one who caused all the ruckus, returned to the man in charge, full of tears and regrets. And was told to ‘never ever ever bring something like that here, to school, ever again. Never.’ Okay, is all the kid could say, a tear dribbling slowly down his cheek.