Technically, I haven’t had “The Talk” with my son the eighth-grader; but we’ve definitely had a robust session of “The Catch You Later.”
Gideon’s middle school is about to be treated to “Be In Charge 2,” an abstinence-focused program that “provides students with medically accurate information on teen pregnancy and STD/HIV prevention using the ‘Make A Difference!’ evidence-based curriculum.”
Previously, the students have heard about zits, underarm hair, breasts and all the other wonders of puberty. Before the next phase begins, I wanted to find out exactly what Gideon thinks he’s supposed to abstain from. He said that abstinence has something to do with moral decisions and private parts, but he sheepishly hoped that I would leave it at that for now.
(I know I was certainly traumatized by my father’s matter-of-fact one- or two-sentence answer when the precocious 10-year-old me asked how babies got inside the mother. I had only one date before I was 20, and whenever I do go into more detail with Gideon, I’ll probably soften the mental images with, “Yes, what they told you at school is indeed how babies have been made since the second quarter of 2005----but Momma and I used the old-fashioned fax machine method.”)
At least Gideon knows what private parts are. That’s more than can be said for Madonna or HBO. (“private parts? What are these private parts of which they speak? Is that like a cameo movie role where you wear a mask the whole time?”)
One of my co-workers expressed mixed emotions about the “Be In Charge 2” program, saying that instructions on such personal matters should come from the parents. But she admitted that not all parents are created equal.
When I was 14 and working at my late uncle’s junkyard, I had to work alongside a fellow who bragged that if his son hadn’t (had sex) by the time he was 16, he would hire him a (prostitute). I have often wondered about that family’s current father-son bonding moments. (“I’d love to toss a football with you, Dad; but I’ve got rotator cuff damage from handling all the delinquent child support notices.”)
Let’s face it: not all parents are willing and able to pass on constructive information to their children. Many impressionable youngsters get stuff more like “Birth control? Um, that’s like when you shoot the stork before it can deliver a baby. Them storks is good eatin’!”
I’m not sure why some parents live in such dread of discussing the facts of life. They fear it almost as much as making out a last will and testament. Maybe they could kill two birds with one stone by whimpering, “Look, you can take the stocks, the collectibles, whatever ---- just don’t make me discuss shopping for anything that has wings.”
I know some critics think abstinence-based programs are quaint and unrealistic; but to paraphrase the Beatles, “All we are saying is give abstinence a chance.”
Gideon is a good kid, I’ve never talked down to him and I’ve striven to keep communications channels open. So I welcome any follow-up questions after the curriculum.
But in a world filled with school locker room talk, sexting, wardrobe malfunctions and titillating videos, I reserve the right to build a wall around that sweet child.
Yes, I will build a wall -- and Victoria’s Secret will pay for it!
Danny welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”