I was at a parents’ forum recently for the final year students of my children’s primary school. My oldest daughter is in the sixth year. She’ll be eleven in July and will be off to secondary school in a few months.
We were discussing the modalities for the graduation ceremony, when one of the parents brought up a very sensitive topic.
‘Please I want to find out when the school authorities are intending to talk to the children about sex’. Very explosive. I heaved a sigh of relief. ‘We’re finally here’.
To my utmost surprise, some mothers became very uncomfortable. ‘What are we supposed to tell them? Why do we bring up the topic at all? When they ask us questions then we will answer them’. I was shocked. The reason I paid close attention to the issue was the parent who raised it. Her daughter is one of the quietest girls I know. She rarely ever speaks. Half the time she is reading a book. I felt that she may have said something to her Mum which prompted her raising the sex education issue.
An argument arose. How much should we tell them? Should we tell them the whole thing or an abridged version? In my mind, I really could not figure out where to stop. It is either that we talk about it or we don’t. Sex is sex. There are no abridged versions of the act. You either do it or you don’t.
Some parents felt that since the children would be taught reproduction in the first year in secondary school, there was no need to go into details now. Others felt there was need to tell the whole story, so that the kids don’t have information that is not complete.
What did I feel? My baby is almost eleven. She is all grown with all the curves in the right places. She has the body of a fourteen year old. I had already taught her about how a woman menstruates and she has been at it for almost a year. I see the way boys react to her and I was not going to leave her to her own devices. Also she is growing into a pretty young woman, and I was not going to leave her uninformed.
It did not make any sense not to give her the full picture. First was the issue of her physical maturity. Then there was the fact that she would be going off to boarding school in a few months with children from different parts of the world and backgrounds. I felt there was a strong need to tell it like it truly is.
She came back from school a few days later to say her head teacher had come to class to tell them about sex. They talked about unwanted pregnancies and how they come and so on. I took it as my cue to tell it all.
So I explained the menstruation process all over again and what ovulation means. I also told her what happens in a boy’s body as he reaches puberty. Then I explained an erection and how they get it. I explained that for sex to take place, a boy’s normally flabby, soft penis would be filled with blood to make it erect to enter into the girl’s vagina. The girl also releases some fluid that lubricate the vagina. At the climax of sex, he would release some fluid called sperms into the girl’s vagina. The sperms could fertilize the egg that is released at ovulation to create a baby. You should have seen the look on her face. I had to look her in the eye to tell her these things.
I am a Christian woman and believe the tenets of my faith, sexual abstinence before marriage. And that is what I taught her. I also believe it is possible to live by those tenets and still have a good time growing up and being adolescent. And I told her so. I did not want her to think there was something wrong about sex, just that God intended it for married people. Sex was something she could look forward to in the future when she would be married and there were no longer any barriers to sex.
At the end of the discussion, she asked a few questions. I had actually talked about it a lot before now in the course of watching some movies and all. So it wasn’t too difficult to do this now. Her younger sister kept trying to barge in on our conversation, but we would not let her. It was a very Important and big discussion. Little girls were no allowed.
All in all it was a lovely experience. When I was having children, I wanted to have daughters. I wanted to talk girls through living self respecting and God fearing lives. I am proud of what I was able to do with my little first baby girl. I thought we would never get there. We ended up agreeing to ask Mummy if she had any questions at all, not friends, not the internet, not magazines, ask Mummy. I realised that my baby girl is fast becoming my friend rather than just my daughter. I am grateful to God. CK