I got a flyer in my 10-year-old son’s backpack this week, inviting parents to view the film all 5th graders in our school district will see called “Always Changing: A Lesson in Puberty.”
Even I giggled. First, at the word puberty. Then, at the thought of my baby-faced son enduring its awkward changes.
I can’t remember why I didn’t attend the parents puberty night when my oldest son (now 14) was in 5th grade but there must have been a very good reason. Of course I’d want to view the film because a) I’m a busybody …. b) I want to know what ideas will be floating around my son’s curious and confused brain after seeing it… and c) maybe I’ll learn something!
The conversation at dinner the night of the talk went like this:
Me: I’m going to a talk at school tonight after dinner.
Aden (10): You’re going to the SEX TALK??
Eli (8): SEX?! (fits of hysterical laughter)
Me: Why are you laughing so hard? Do you know what sex is?
Eli: (still laughing) NO!!
Jacob: Oh I remember that talk. It’s really boring except for the one part where they talk about getting an erection.
Aden and Eli: A what??
Jacob: An erection.
Eli: (squealing, giggling, practically falling out of his chair) Erection!! Erection!!
Me: Do you guys know what it is?
Jacob: (Trying hard to be blasé) I know what it is.
Eli: (stops laughing) No, what is it?
Me: (Trying to stay matter of fact and breezy) It’s a physical reaction in your body, when blood rushes to your penis and it gets stiff.
Eli: (Blurts out in horror) My penis is going to fill up with blood?
Me: (Wishing Wilson was home) It doesn’t hurt. It’s not as bad as it sounds.
Grateful for the excuse to escape, I headed to school for a refresher course in breakouts and boobs.
Something about sitting in the back row of the school auditorium with my friends, taking notes about fallopian tubes brought me right back to adolescence. The short film tries to demystify puberty and explain the body changes kids can expect starting at 10 years old.
It will not win any Oscars for acting but it gets the point across without being too corny. Contrived scenes between teachers, parents, and other caregivers and their kids, explain things like anatomy, body odor, and pimples. The funniest part was when a mother explained menstruation to her tentative daughter saying “You’ll get used to it. Soon, you won’t even notice it.” Really?!
Boys and girls screen separate versions of the film that pertain to their specific body changes. Then a teacher and the school nurse is available to answer any questions in a safe atmosphere, without being mortified by the presence of the opposite sex. But the film only focuses on puberty, and stops short of explaining intercourse.
They leave that tricky topic to us parents.
Our district addresses the reproductive system and more advanced sexuality issues in middle and high school. Our district’s head of health and physical education led the meeting and complimented our progressive community for allowing many pressing modern issues– including different types of birth control and STD’s– in the high school curriculum. She noted the district has a low teen pregnancy rate, which she hopes is in part due to education and awareness.
I was so nervous and embarrassed about anything having to do with sex and my body as a teen, that it made me uptight about it for more years than necessary. Curious angst comes with the territory, but I want to make sure my boys feel more comfortable with the changes in their bodies and their sexuality than I did.
My mother gave me “the talk” briefly when I was maybe 10 or 11, but I can’t even remember what she said, nor could she when I asked her this week. I do remember her giving me these funny cartoon books called What’s Happening to Me and Where Did I Come From? which explained a lot more than she could.
I remember specific illustrations and explanations to this day, which is why I bought them for Jacob when he was about 9. He was– and always has been– extremely curious and demanded a sex talk before most of his peers.
He did have several friends who had older siblings who had revealed some — mostly inaccurate– facts about sex and puberty so we felt it was time. We had the talk with Aden a few months ago and he asked fewer questions than Jacob and seemed less interested. (Those hilarious discussions are a whole other blog for another day!)
As the mother of three boys, I’d like them to understand how all bodies work and how we gals think and feel sometimes. I’m hoping that will make them better boyfriends, husbands, friends…and people to whomever they love.
The puberty film is sponsored by Proctor and Gamble and unsurprisingly pushes Always feminine products at the end. It’s shown in many school districts nationwide. If you want to screen the film yourself, here’s the link. The site also has scripts and resources for parents to talk to their kids about sex.
Watch it and let me know what you think in the comments.