Our seven-year-old has a crush on a new guy every week. When we told her she’s too young for that carry on, she replied, “I know, but there are so many good looking guys in my class.”
They are a pack of lookers in fairness — but I never thought we’d be ‘here’, so early in her life.
As always, the neighbours are well ahead of us on the sex front. More than 240 primary schools in Britain recently introduced an ‘All About Me’ sex education programme for six to 10 year-olds, including a module on the rules of masturbation. (There are rules?) We know from Brexit that the Brits have a thing for self-abuse, but still, six seems a bit early doors, even for them.
But, why wait? We have an open relationship with our two kids, we can pretty much say anything to them. Now might be the perfect time to set them straight about sex, before one of their friends decides to give them a half-arsed version that will leave them scarred for life.
My entire sex-education at home went as follows:
Me: We’re doing reproduction at the moment in science, is it true that the man puts his penis into the woman’s vagina?
Look, at least he didn’t say no. I suppose he didn’t want to rule out the possibility of grandchildren.
The upshot was the only family member who told me about sex, growing up, was a second cousin in Kinsale.
I was 10 years old and we were walking along Main Street one day when a passing driver blew his horn. “Keep your horn for your wife,” shouted my second cousin at him and I burst out laughing because he was always very funny. Then I asked him what he meant by that. He said, “Seriously, don’t you know, meet me outside Acton’s Hotel at three this afternoon and I’ll give you a quick rundown”.
That guy knew how to build tension. I can’t remember half of what he said outside Acton’s Hotel, but the other half turned out to be rubbish.
I don’t want my kids to be badly advised. And I don’t want them to develop any hang-ups about their bodies. Right now, they see their genitals as just another part of their body. I’d like it to stay that way, as much as possible.
Now, confession time. I have no idea what kind of sex education they have in my daughter’s school. I assumed this wouldn’t be an issue until I googled ‘sex education Ireland primary school’ and found a newspaper article from last year which revealed a fairly ad-hoc approach to this around the country.
It also told me that Accord, the catholic marriage counselling service, is the leading provider of RSE (relationship and sexuality education) in Ireland. I’m sure it’s great organisation, but it brings to mind the time a priest and a nun gave us a little chat about marriage in secondary school, but just in case some areas of a sexual relationship remained a mystery to them, they had a lay couple on hand to answer our questions.
The ‘All About Me’ programme got a bit of push back in Britain, with some parents keeping their kids at home when it was being delivered. But, judging by excerpts shared in the media, it’s open, honest and full of common sense. They describe masturbation as “something we should only do when we are alone, perhaps in the shower or in bed, a bit like picking your nose.”
That seems like solid advice to me. Although, to be honest, I take a dim view of people picking their nose in bed.