Thursday, October 25, 2012

Girl, you'll be a woman soon. But not too soon please.

I believe I mentioned that last Friday I had to nip out for a voluntary girls' health movie and discussion at my 9-year-old daughter's elementary school. It was mostly sweet and funny and full of gasps, sighs, whimpers and giggles along with a few sage questions (well, how do you insert a tampon anyway?) and gruesome hypotheticals (what if you get your first period in the middle of the classroom and you're too embarrassed to raise your hand and tell the teacher who happens to be a man?). The school nurse led the discussion and she did a very entertaining job of tap-dancing away from the questions that led inevitably to sex, as in, if starting to menstruate means you can officially become do you get pregnant? And is it possible to become pregnant without knowing it??? Like I said, gruesome hypotheticals, which the nurse was not permitted to explain—that voluntary health talk (and movie, I can only hope) doesn't happen until middle school.

I was sort of surprised that we were already going down this road. Wasn't preschool just...just...five years ago? I've been collecting retro sex-ed books like Facts of Life and Love for Teenagers by Evelyn Millis Duvall (revised edition, 1957) because they are so quaint, so removed from reality (hello, chapter devoted to "That question of petting"!). I thought I might sell them or better still, give them to the parents of, you know, older children as a kind of gag gift. Funny how that doesn't seem so funny anymore... Gag.

What I really need now is to lay my hands on a copy of Peter Mayle's Where Did I Come From?—see it here on my friend Burgin's vintage kid book blog—which I recall fondly from my youth (I think a neighbor had it). I've seen several vintage copies on my estate-sale rounds but they tend to be grubby, stained, split at the spine. All signs of a well-loved, well-read book but—grody. Onward to amazon, where a brand-new soft-bound is $9.95. I think I still have time to continue my quest for the perfect first edition paperback of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I think.

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