Friday, July 24, 2015

Explaining Things to a Four-Year-Old: TMI is TMI

Let me preface this post with identifying myself as a certified OWL teacher. What's OWL, you might ask? OWL is the acronym for Our Whole Lives, the UU version of sex ed. That's really a gross over-simplification; what makes OWL unique is its focus on intimacy, respect, and introspection, with a distinct lack of judgment or shame. OWL has different curriculum for different stages of development, spanning across - you guessed it - our whole lives, from early childhood development to retirement.

When I told my husband about OWL, he said, "Great! You'll find other people who don't mind you saying 'It's a vagina' at the top of your lungs!" He has a point. I do get aggravated with the various euphemisms for genitalia. To make up words for them is to cloak those parts in shame and secrecy, when in fact those parts are essential components of our whole being. How you look at your penis or your vagina influences your entire sense of self. So, yes. I say "vagina" whenever I can. It's not a pee-pee, it's a penis. Or a vagina. And the penis and vagina aren't even responsible for peeing - that's the urethra. So there's that. As for the other euphemisms...especially in regard to the vagina, they just get sillier and sillier. "Hoo-hoo" (my vagina is an owl? Hey, maybe that's where Our Whole Lives comes from!), "hoo-ha" (a laughing owl?) and more. My kids call them penises and vaginas. James can even explain to you which one you have (I know because he took the time to explain it to me). 

So, when James recently asked me how babies are made, I was completely ready. 

"Mom, does a baby grow in your belly? Did Violet come from somewhere else and then grow in your belly?"

I didn't even have to think about it, really. "Well, James, we actually all start out as eggs and sperm. The penis goes inside the vagina, and sperm travels from the testicles to...blah blah Fallopian tubes...ovaries...blah blah uterus...and then the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall, a placenta is formed, and the baby grows!"

He stared at me, blankly. "So, the baby grows in your belly?"

"Yes, James. The baby grows in my belly." Sigh.

I suppose there's a reason I'm only certified to teach to 7th to 12th graders...

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