Having thought we were discussing something he had recently eaten or had with him in his overnight bag. I asked Connor what type of nuts almonds, pistachios, cashews…thinking of the array of colours. I was taken aback when the conversation continued.
“No Nan, these nuts’, he poked and pulled at the little bag between his legs in which he saw nested a pair of nuts.
‘Oh your testicles, probably the colour of your lips, but I really do not know’.
How can you be expected to know Nan?
‘Well, you don’t have any do you Nan…… will they pop out”. He continued to pull and poke at them.
The flash of a nutcracker flashed across my mind then a cold chill soon followed, ‘ No they grow inside their bag. They never come out. They are not like nuts you eat. In fact they are not nuts at all. That is just a jokey name that is used’.
Curious about his body
‘Oh can we play a game with the [bath] toys now?’ Of course.
The chat about his body was over. There was nothing other than curiosity motivating his interest. He was asking sensible questions. I was impressed with his thinking. I was glad he thought he could ask ; glad I did not laugh or gasp openly and glad I did not show any sign of embarrassment. It’s only a body part after all.
Timing is all
I did not see this exchange as an opportunity to introduce adult matters about the function of his boy bits. He is only at infants school. First he needs to know about relationships not about mechanics. Love, care, thoughtfulness and respect come first
Doing our kids a disservice
Schools get a lot of flack for teaching what so many parents and grandparents find difficult. Teenagers struggle to fill in gaps about their bodies and their relationships with the opposite sex for which we as adults are wholly responsible. It is not a sniggering or guessing game. The correct knowledge is critical to happy relationships.
I grew up being told by my father that I was found under a gooseberry bush. My mother did better with a ‘ Daddy puts a seed into Mummy’ which made me think he got her to eat a seed (coloured pink in my head!) from a seed tray and then there was me’. The back of the biology book filled in the very large gap in my understanding.
My mother referred to my vagina and vulva as a ‘tubby’. Even today many young parents prefer such euphemisms. And so build in potential shame as part of how young people and even adults see their bodies.
Compulsory Relationships and Sex Education
Relationships and sex education became compulsory in all schools in UK in September 2020. The approach had been tested in several schools already. The Family Planning Association says, ‘We are pleased the guidance …covers crucial subjects like consent, different types of families and relationships, safe and respectful relationships, …and onlinesafety’.https://www.fpa.org.uk/news/relationships-and-sex-education-what’s-changing
Parents cannot withdraw their children from ‘Relationships Education’ but they can from the Sex Education until they are nearly 16. Don’t leave it that late to help your child. They will have found things out from elsewhere long before then. Many of which may be wrong. A 15 year old lad once asked me ‘ what is The Pill’ …the conversation revealed he thought it was the size of a dinner plate and that girls took a bite out each day. he also thought all girls had one. A conversation has to be open to questions and with honest answers.