Produced by Gary Drevitch
IF NOTHING ELSE, THIS ARTICLE HAS CONVINCED US TO START USING THE CORRECT NAMES FOR OUR CHILDREN'S PRIVATE PARTS. WE WON'T CALL THEM "THE BAD STICK" AND "THE DIRTY VALLEY" ANYMORE.
From the people who brought you the "trend" of first-year potty training, the New York Times now proudly presents Sex Ed for Toddlers, featuring an all-new set of suburban moms seeking original ways to intimidate the Hell out of their neighbors. Today's group comes to us from Long Island, and it met weekly last summer with a Planned Parenthood staffer for lessons in how to educate toddlers about sex, because it sure beats teaching them how to add. Sure enough, the moms involved found the lessons "so necessary" that they are scheduling another set for 2006.
Because when it comes to sex ed for three-year-olds, says Nanette Ecker, the educator who led the moms' group, "Parents don't have the luxury of silence anymore." She did not then add, "They do, however, have the luxury of paying me to teach them ways to talk to kids about how they and their husbands get it on."
Now, we don't just want to poke fun at these parents, at least not exclusively, because their approach does address some valid cultural questions. For example:
The general cultural environment has become so vulgar, the early-approach advocates say, that sex education has become a race: parents must reach children before other forces - from misinformed playground confidantes to pubescent-looking models posed in their skivvies - do. "We need to get there first," said Deborah M. Roffman, a sex educator.
And Roffman's right about that; Fellow and Tiny see all kinds of images we'd rather they didn't and while they can't put their finger on exactly what it is, they know that something about those images makes them uncomfortable. Now, would full-blown sex ed make them feel better about it? We're not sure. Often at this developmental stage, a child's curiosity is only surface deep, as Bill Taverner, the director of education for Planned Parenthood of Greater Northern New Jersey, wisely points out in the Times piece:
"If a child holds up a tampon and says, 'What's this?' " said , "the best answer may just be, 'that's a tampon.' Having a name for something is sometimes enough."
But as with the women in the earlier Times piece on "diaper-free" parenting, who potty-trained children as young as seven months old, we get a sense that at the end of the day, this is really all about the moms, and they straddle the fine and sometimes icky line between being proud of what their kids can do, and bragging about what they can get their kids to do. For example, we can tell you about what new academic feats Fellow is accomplishing in kindergarten, and, sure, that's plenty obnoxious, but it's a different kind of obnoxious than saying, "And then I blow this whistle, and Tiny Girl drops to the floor and gives me 10 push-ups."
To that end, we'll give the final word to Susan Vartoukian, hostess of the Long Island sex-ed group, who has had "the talk" with her two young boys years before most parents would even think about it:
"It's a fun time at dinner now," Ms. Vartoukian [said]. "We have The Talk every single night."
And there you go.
November 17, 2005 | Permalink |
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