Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Facts of Life

     You don't have to do it, but it's something that you don't want to miss out on—like a father's witnessing the birth of his child. What I'm referring to is teaching your children the facts of life. I did it for our oldest son when he hit puberty and my wife recently did it for our daughter. She was apprehensive before doing it and months earlier had claimed to have done it, but when I recently read Penelope a book of facts that supposedly aren't true and the Immaculate Conception topic came up, I asked her while trying to decide whether it was age appropriate, “Mom taught you how babies are made, right?” and she said no.
     Deanne explained that she taught her only about menses and how it's useful to determine projected birth dates for pregnant women.
     I explained to her that it's time for Penelope to know, to learn from us first, because we had already signed the school's sex education consent form. By teaching her ourselves, it will be something she will never forget and will cause her to esteem us more in the future when she realizes, “That was pretty cool of her to tell me herself.” And in turn, she'll more likely open up to us when she falls in love, starts dating, gets a boyfriend, and goes through other major life events. By telling her too, it shows our love and respect for her—that we care enough to do it ourselves rather than slough off the responsibility on someone else.
     Sure, it was uncomfortable for us raised in conservative (and somewhat prudish) Asian cultures. Deanne said she learned when her parents gave her a pamphlet. Mine gave me one too, but it was designed for an early prepubescent and left out all the critical details. Same thing happened in fifth grade sex education class at school. I even asked the teacher who showed diagrams of the female internal organs explaining how sperm in the vagina swims up through the cervix into the uterus blah, blah, blah--, “But how does the sperm get into the vagina?”  
     She paused a moment and reiterated that the sperm swims up the vagina, through the cervix, into the uterus blah, blah, blah... and if you need further explanation, she concluded, then ask your parents. Hands shot up and Mrs. Lee said we have a lot to catch up on in Social Studies so get out your notebooks now.
     I asked my friend Harvey during recess, but how does the sperm get into the vagina? He just bunched up his lips and shrugged, apparently no further enlightened about it than I was.
     So I learned the scholarly way—I read our reference books at home. The children's encyclopedia didn't have it. It wasn't under the World Book Encyclopedia's heading “Sex,” either. I found it buried way down in the boring text under the heading “Reproduction.” My head throbbed along with my heart's thudding beat as I read that (the act) is generally very physiologically and psychologically pleasurable to both sexes. After looking up those words, I thought to myself, the man, sure, but the woman? Ever since then, I've had a rather scholarly attitude toward many other biological functions. Maybe if my parents had told me themselves, I would have a more social attitude toward them?
     Nonetheless, Deanne did it (well, almost). I told her prior to her second attempt that it's ridiculous that people are so squeamish about talking about it—it's as natural as breathing and eating. All animals (pretty much) do it. Virtually everyone on earth who has ever lived has done it or will do it. The main thing is to focus on loving Penelope and to bless her in the process. Tell her it's a beautiful thing for a loving couple—one of the most beautiful things there is. God could have made us like fish, I explained to Deanne—drop the eggs on the ground, fertilize it, that's it. Or like squid—bam! So long! But He didn't. He blessed us with this gift.
     I choked up when I explained certain parts to my son. My daughter choked up when my wife explained certain parts to her. My wife asked why are you crying, did something happen to you? She said no, she didn't know why. My wife was worried so she left off before reaching the critical part. She told me maybe she'll finish explaining a couple of years from now. I said we can't wait that long—weeks or a couple months, maybe, but no way years. So hopefully, she'll get around to it sometime soon. (I'll remind her as necessary.)

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