Let's Talk About Sex

How did you learn about sex? We all have a story and my completely unscientific discussions with friends tell me that learning about the facts of life (not those Facts of Life) is often embarrassing and riddled with euphemisms.

I recently saw a story about Marjorie Holsten, described as a homeschooling expert by Tea Party groups, who advocates teaching children about sex by using guinea pigs. She claims this is how she taught her own children about how babies are made and that she learned about the birds and the bees by "watching animals do it on the street."

This reminded me of the delightful story about how Nana taught my mom about doing the funky chicken.

In comparison to Nana, the Duggars are sexually permissive. Nana repressed everything having to do with coitus, which might explain a few things about her. She didn't talk about it. She would start talking loudly over any movie scene that began to imply doing the wild thing. And, believe me, she didn't bump uglies any more often than she absolutely had to. By my count, she had sex exactly twice - once for my mom and once for my uncle.

Nana was so uptight about sex that she didn't tell anyone my mom was pregnant with me. When I was born, she put out pink candy cigars to inform the world that her daughter had a baby. Yep. Nana was ashamed of her first grandchild because it let the cat out of the bag that my (married) mom and dad practiced the horizontal mambo.

Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when my mom would have gone through puberty and needed to learn about the changes her body was going through, Nana turned a blind eye to the entire situation. Except, of course, to drill into my mom that holding onto her virginity was paramount (yes, I get the irony) and the belly button was sacred.

Fast forward to 1968 or 1969 when my mom was a co-ed at Florida Southern College, living in the Alpha Delta Pi house with her best friend Lynn. Still pretty ignorant about sex at age 20 or 21, except for what she heard from her friends, one night Lynn snuck a cat into their dorm room.

As they were cuddling the cat, Lynn realized that it was pregnant and told mom to feel its belly. Mom felt the kittens moving inside the cat's belly, which was an entirely new experience for her. She certainly never felt Nana's belly when Nana was pregnant with my Uncle Michael.

Moments later, Lynn exclaimed, "Get some towels! This cat is about to give birth!"

In all seriousness, Mom looked at Lynn and replied, "How can that be? These kittens are moving further and further away from the cat's belly button!"

Mom swears that as the words came out of her mouth, she knew in that instant that Nana had lied to her all those years. The belly button wasn't the sacred place from which babies came out of a woman's body, like a human Jiffy Pop Popcorn. Babies come into the world by moving from the uterus through the dilated cervix and into the vagina before shooting out like a canon ball shooting out of a canon.

Completely embarrassed and upset that she could have been so dumb on this matter, Mom called Nana for an explanation. I obviously don't know exactly how that conversation went down, but I've imagined it in my mind many times.

Mom: Hi Mom, it's Virginia. Do you know what I learned tonight?

Nana (with her deep Southern drawl): No, Sweet Thing. What did you learn?

Mom: I learned where babies come out. They DO NOT come out of the belly button! Why did you let me believe for all of these years that babies come out of a woman's belly button?

Nana: Well, honey, I just don't know. There are some things you just don't talk about. Now can we recite some Bible verses. This is all too much.

Mom: I just humiliated myself in front of Lynn. She thinks I'm an idiot. How did YOU learn where babies came out?

Nana: You know I grew up on a farm in Batesville, Mississippi. One day, your Aunt Johnnie and I were walking around and saw a pregnant cow give birth. I guess I thought you'd learn about it the same way I did.


Nana: I, I just don't know. Let's recite some Bible verses.

*This is the only line that I know for certain is exact. Mom has shared this story so many times and this line never changes.

So that's the story of how my mom learned about birthing babies. Frankly, if not for that cat, she could have gone her entire life without knowing the truth. When both David and I were born, Mom was fully sedated, as was the practice in the early 1970s.

Photo from Amazon.com. Click on the photo to order the book.

Photo from Amazon.com. Click on the photo to order the book.

"By this time, the man wants to get as close to the woman as he can because he's feeling very loving to her. And to get really close the best thing he can do is lie on top of her and put his penis inside her, into her vagina."

"By this time, the man wants to get as close to the woman as he can because he's feeling very loving to her. And to get really close the best thing he can do is lie on top of her and put his penis inside her, into her vagina."

Fortunately for me, Mom wasn't nearly so uptight about sex and human reproduction. She handed me this very handy dandy book.

That's right. I received a cartoon book with gross looking people.

I have no idea how a book can claim that it's teaching the facts of life without any nonsense when, aside from the naked people inside, it could have been lifted straight from the Sunday Funny Papers.

When you open the book, you get a complete feel for just how ridiculous the whole thing is.

Just look at that couple. It's all about the man and what he wants. The woman, I assume, is just supposed to go along with it. Because, you know, that's what you do. It's simply assumed that the "sticky stuff" containing sperm magically appears and the "romantic sperm" (I'm not joking) finds the egg and boom! a baby is made.

Ya, that wasn't embarrassing for me. Not at all.

Fortunately, for parents too lazy to review the book with their kids, there's even a Saturday morning style cartoon. You can plop Junior  down in front of the TV with a box of Sugar Smacks and return 30 minutes later, confident that your child has all the information he needs to avoid sex at all costs.

How did you learn about sex?

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    Jessica Gardner

    A native of Chicago's Northwest Suburbs and resident of the North Shore, Little Merry Sunshine comes by her name honestly. The story goes that as a child, she was always so happy that she even slept with a smile on her face. Her mom nicknamed her Little Merry Sunshine. It stuck, along with her insatiable desire to focus on the good in the world and to leave it a little better than she found it. She does this by sharing her passions and dreams, what inspires her, and maybe you too, and furthering the discussion about how we can listen to our better angels. You can reach her at LittleMerrySunshineCN[at]WowWay[dot]com.

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