The 4th Grade Sex Talk

by Amy Hunter
Originally Published: 

From the moment the ultrasound technician informed me that I was having a son, I was over the moon. I would have been happy with a boy or a girl, but once the baby’s gender was confirmed, it was as if that little flickering dot on the monitor became a real baby. A boy baby. All my hope for my firstborn child materialized at that exact moment. The games we would play, the songs we would sing, an image of a little boy with huge brown eyes running on the beach, or into my arms as I twirled him around and around … I could see it all.

I guess I conveniently forgot the fact that he’d one day learn about puberty.

Today, that beautiful baby is a 10-year-old. He loves Minecraft and football, soccer and Harry Potter, and he’s days away from finishing 4th grade. So, naturally, this is the time where the school separates the boys into one room, and the girls into another, and gives it to them straight about the birds, the bees, and VD.

I vividly remember the time I was an innocent 10-year-old subjected to this talk. The school chose Mrs. Macy to be the presenter of sex to the girls. It wasn’t enough that Mrs. Macy was a proverbial troll who could make even the most hypersexualized person consider a future in the sisterhood, it was also the fact that girls have to learn about menstruation. Which, in one conversation, can make any female understand that we are really bearing the burden for all of humankind. I was glad to know my son will never have to bleed through copious amounts of super tampons in the middle of the night.

When the letter came home from school, informing the family that the health talk was rapidly approaching, I handled this like I handle any topic with my children, in a completely awkward, you’re-going-to-be-sending-me-therapy-bills-for-life kinda way.

Me: So, you’re going to have the big deal sex talk at school next week. Would you like me to tell you all the stuff or would you rather be surprised?

Him: How about I stay home from school that day and you tell me all about it the night before my wedding?

That sounds about right. And the topic was dropped.

Until yesterday.

My son walked in the house with a look on his face like I’ve never seen before. He looked like he’d accidentally watched a scary movie.

Me: You OK buddy? How was your day?

Him: You were right. Me: Right? About what? Him: I was surprised.

He began to explain the sheer embarrassment of being corralled into a room with all of his classmates, then hearing the only male teacher in the whole 4th grade use all the scientific terms, “penis, erection, ejaculation, gestation.” And they were told in advance they weren’t allowed to laugh. That part was the most ridiculous of all: no laughter permitted? Laughing when I’m uncomfortable is the story of my life. How can you stop a defense mechanism? It’s like trying to stop a runaway train.

He said the bus ride home was the most uncomfortable he’d ever felt. “Mom, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. They. All. Know. And I know. Crazy.” And I knew exactly what he meant.

I’m a liberal mom. I want my boy to have all the knowledge in his head to make all the educated decisions about all the important topics he’ll be forced to make in his life. Is the sex talk awkward? Absofuckinglutely. Is it necessary? Damn straight it is.

I’m kinda glad he chose to be surprised. I really dodged a bullet on that one.

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