Wait until 4th grade was over. Wait until the summer break between 4th and 5th grade arrived. Wait until we could have the reproductive health, er, sex talk with the Bear at a leisurely pace and without any nuggets or zingers from it seeping into her classroom chit-chats or into the recess yard banter or into the cafeteria scuttlebutt. We were waiting just a little while longer to have the sex talk with our 10-year-old daughter both for us, to preserve a few more glorious weeks of blissful childhood unknowing in our oldest daughter, and for other parents too, to not have the Bear accidentally spilling the beans on the sperm + egg / penis + vagina system to her 4th grade buddies who may not be in the know. I’m nothing if not considerate.
But the gig is up.
A form came home alerting us of a special “Always Changing — About You” health class for the 4th grade. We’re talking menstrual cycles, reproductive body parts, stinky arm pits, you know, all the good shit. Well, we’re not talking about that stuff, school is, but you know, now we are. We gotta get in front of this End of Childhood School Year special, to ensure the first sex talk our daughter has is a sex talk with us, not some health teacher with Proctor & Gamble sponsored leaflets. That’s right, our school seems to have bought into some P&G program, with supplied documents littered with ads for their tampons, pads and deodorant.
New plan: divide and conquer. The Mrs. handles the icky this into that does this & that shit. I’ll tackle the commercialism bit and, okay, arm pit management too. Deal.
I’ve never been worried about this moment because of the words themselves or because of the exact information we’ll transfer to her, that her vocabulary and understanding of the world will be forever altered and expanded, and I’m not nervous about this new stage of my oldest daughter’s life. In fact, I am mildly excited about the challenge and adventure of her tween and teen years and all that comes about during those transformative periods of life. Just as I bought and folded her first pairs of underwear after she moved out of diapers eight years ago, I will be the one buying and stocking the bathroom cabinet with pads and tampons for her when that time comes. I’m totally ready for all of that.
What I am mourning right this minute is the first wall of childhood coming down. The bricks that will soon crumble are still covered in chalk and stickers. This is what’s causing the massive stream of tears to flow as I wrap up this short post. I know that this talk we must have is a line of demarcation between simplicity of youth and the complications of adulthood, and I, I just can’t stop crying about crossing over the border with her. I just can’t stop.
Editor’s Note: A version of this post first appeared on Jeff’s blog Out with the Kids.