Monday, April 08, 2013

More About Sex

I so enjoyed reading the comments that came after my 612.6 blog post, both the ones that were left on the post and the ones that came in emails and were not made public. Of course this got me thinking about fifth grade and the morning that while combing my hair before school and avoiding any possibility of eye contact, my mother asked, "Do you know where babies come from?" "Your stummick," I replied confidently (an older, married cousin had produced two little boys in recent years, and prior to their arrival seemed to have changed shape a lot). "Well," she continued uneasily, "you are going to see a movie about this in school today. If you have any questions, we'll talk after school."

So off I went, wondering not so much about what this movie was going to be but how the heck she knew we were going to see it! The three sections of fifth grade were split up that morning. The boys all went with Mr. Dares to do something that I believe was baseball related. All of the girls followed Miss Koons to the auditorium where -- surprise! -- our mothers were already seated. We watched a movie, "Growing Up and Liking It," and then went back to the classroom where Miss Koons asked if any of us had "already started." She gave us each a little booklet to take home; it talked about the uterus preparing a "little nest" out of blood and tissue that was only needed if a baby was going to grow there. She asked about questions. No one had any. I wondered how that little nest would know  if there was going to be a baby and how that happened, but kept my thoughts to myself. When I got home that day, I was asked, "Do you have any questions?" I knew that the answer had to be "no."

So that was that. Sex wasn't mentioned in the school again until eleventh grade. There we had an all-girl health class that met twice a week with Miss Pletz. (I've set aside my usual practice of creating pseudonyms to protect the guilty -- Miss Pletz's name is just too good.) The format for the class was that she had a lot of booklets and articles about venereal disease, and we spent the class periods reading the materials, and writing reports on them. I do not recall instruction on anything else apart from some dreadful slides that showed us how to identify a chancre. Certainly we weren't told how the little nest got its information. I just knew that mine hadn't let me down like it had "Shirley," who had left school back in ninth grade "to have a baby."

There was one other thing, though. You can ask any woman who attended our high school back in the sixties, "What did Miss Pletz say in 11th grade health?"

And the correct answer would be: "Girls, never sit on a boy's lap without first putting a newspaper down!"

Oh, dear. It was too late. All of us already had.



14 comments:

Janet O. said...

My, how times have changed!
I believe that was the same movie we saw in 5th grade. : )

Patrica said...

The newspaper thing is too funny!!! As I mentioned I attended Catholic girls school in the 60s and NON of this was mentioned until 9th grade at which point we all were treated to a movie screened by Mother Veronica which we forever referred to as "Cinderella Gets Her Period" I think because it was so darned sappy and cute. Since I was the only one in my class who hadn't yet started it was all news to me!

LizA. said...

Oh dear, this should have come with a spew warning.....I'm wiping my latte off my iPad!

Jean Burke said...

The title was intriguing and the post is hilarious! By 9th grade, I'd convinced myself that they made all that up in 6th grade. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. When my daughter was in 5th grade, the school nurse sent the video home because she felt 'she wasn't quite getting it'. Thought it would help to watch it with me. We watched, I asked her about it, she seemed fine, and then she walked upstairs and asked my husband if he gets his period! Oy!

Anonymous said...

Nancy, I do the fifth grade girls growing up class at my elementary schools and this is one of my favorite things to do. The girls are so nervous and squirrelly. Too bad most of them will not maintain their innocence through high school. I am enjoying your posts.
Kathy B

Helen said...

Ohmygosh...this brings back memories. I had the booklet, "Growing Up and Liking It". I believe it was about the only thing my mother and I discussed about sex. I was so naive...

Thankfully she had shared that booklet with me prior to my first period, cause I knew what was happening. She never talked to my older sister (at least that my sis can remember) and when she started she thought she was going to bleed to death!

My own girls learned so much from their teacher in high school...in fact, I learned a lot from what they discussed with me.

You are right...times sure have changed. Wish we could keep our children's innocence longer nowadays, but I think that ship has passed.

Anonymous said...

"Growing up and Liking it" Oh my yes, same movie, same booklet, same class. And mother asking, "do you have any questions?" I guess we all went through the same class. That movie and book certainly made the rounds.
Sue

Synthia said...

I've never heard the one about using a newspaper when sitting on a boy's lap. I think that's hysterical!!!

Gari in AL said...

We didn't have sex ed in school but my mother gave me a book, on her way out of the house, and ask me the "questions?" question when she got home. I, of course, said "no" and we never mentioned it again.

Nann said...

Well, darn -- "Growing Up and Liking It" is NOT on YouTube. But here is an earlier version, with a MUCH less catchy title!!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l9qhlHFXuM

Now, back to quilting....

Mrs. Goodneedle said...

I cannot stop laughing over the newspaper trick... brilliant!

Suzan said...

If only I had known about the newspaper... :)

Ms. Jan said...

"Growing Up and Liking It!" that was the book!! We did get more of the story in 6th grade (after all, this IS California). Of course, they told us that sperm met egg, but not HOW, hence my confusion a month later when the big sister got married with a bun in the oven and it was a family tragedy. =)

suz said...

I went to an all-girl Catholic high school - never saw any movies and our Junior homeroom teach told us you could kiss your father and kiss your brother and give your fiance a peck on the check in the train station when he went off to war. Our senior homeroom teacher told us never to believe a boy if he said he had something in his pocket that would keep you from getting pregnant. Mom didn't tell us anything! A close friend got pregnant in high school and that's how I learned everything! Good grief! I think my 12 year old great niece knows more than I did in high school - not sure if that's good or bad.