My tween's version of the fifth grade puberty talk in school

My tween's version of the fifth grade puberty talk in school

Yesterday was the day of the big puberty talk in fifth grade, the one where the boys are in one room and the girls are in another room. My daughter shared some of the "highlights," if you will. The school nurse handled the presentation to the girls and before she began in earnest, she asked the girls to try as hard as they could not to laugh.

Then she asked the students about the differences between boys and girls in the puberty. (Am I the only one that finds that to be a dangerous way to start?)  One student answered with, “Boys get a lot stinkier than girls a lot quicker.”

The teacher, a mom to several boys, found that to be very, very funny and she burst out laughing.  So much for keeping it together. Apparently, though, the female principal was not as amused.  I’m wondering why the principal was in on this talk, but that’s another story.

Once the teacher regained her composure, the puberty presentation went on with on with only minimal giggling.

That is, until it came time to talk about boys. When the girls saw what my daughter described as “a cartoonish science-y kind of drawing” of the male anatomy, they could not contain themselves. The 10 and 11 year-old girls erupted in laughter. As they tried and failed to compose themselves, the nurse shook her head and said, “Happens every year.”

When I asked her what else was funny, my tween answered, “It was a puberty talk, mom. Not a whole lot of funny going on."


I asked how it was when the two genders were back in the same classroom. I remember that being perhaps the most awkward part of the sex ed experience in fifth grade. My daughter said it wasn't too bad, and then detailed this conversation:

Boy (to all girls in class):   What'd you learn????

All girls in class:   Nothing.

Boy (excitedly) : C'mon! You were in there for an HOUR AND A HALF! Don't tell me you just sat there.  What went on in YOUR room?

Teacher:  You were told that we were going to keep what we learned to ourselves.

Boy:  Nope! They didn't tell us that!

Teacher:  Well, you keep what you learned to yourself and the girls will do the same.

Boy (dejectedly):  Fine.


My daughter then showed me what was in the bag that she received as part of the presentation. The bag is labeled “girl gear.” My daughter pulled out the booklet titled “it’s a happy thing.” Why does talking about puberty mean no capitalization? Is the e.e. cummings approach to puberty supposed to make it more fun? I don’t get it.

The booklets were sponsored by Always, which reminded me of Wendi Aaron’s fabulous Open Letter to Mr. James Thatcher, Brand Manager for Proctor & Gamble. I’ll wait a bit before having my tween read that one, but I’m confident that she’ll someday appreciate it as much I do.

The booklets included coupons. Expired coupons. As in, expired in 2010 coupons. That really annoyed my tween. I’m not really sure why my tween was focused on coupons for maxipads, but that expired coupon seriously bugged her.

Then my kid pulled out the book and held it open. Then she looked at it and saw that she had accidentally turned to the drawing of how the ovaries release eggs into the fallopian tubes. My daughter sighed and said in horror, “And I turn to the worst page in the book.”

When I asked her about the other "bad" pages in the book, she said, “really anything with pictures.”

I reminded her about the pictures of the male anatomy.

“Oh, well, those are hilarious."


She was a typical tween, very chatty one mine and then boom! that door was shut and the conversation was over. I think I was clear on that when she said, "Whatevs" to something I had asked her. Trying to do what parents should, I reminded her that this is an important time and I'm happy to answer any questions she has and she can come talk to me at any time about anything. I then asked if she had anything she wanted to talk about now and she said on her way up the stairs (and yes, it was only then that I realized she'd been backing away from me), "There was an hour and a half of talking on this today at school mom. I'm all talked out."

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You may also like: Books about puberty for tween boys and girls and their parents

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