The Facts of Life.


This week a note came home about how my year six son is going to be doing sex ed next week. He called it ‘health’ which was him sanitising it because he is awkward about it. Which I understand because I still vividly recall my sex ed talk in grade seven.

Allow me to set the scene. It’s summer, four year seven classes have been jammed into the front rows of our giant hall, a small bird-like woman stands in front of us. We have separately had discussions on puberty and all the interesting yucks that go along with that and now they have brought us together so the boys and girls can be mortified as one.

In year 8 we would get the more in depth talk that involved slides with horrifying examples of flaccid penises slowly becoming erect but they toned it down a little for 12 year olds.

The woman tried her best as we all squirmed in front of her, keeping her face impassive as she described erections and wet dreams and finally the briefest, most uninteresting description of sex that ever existed. It sounded totally dull and gross. I don’t think any of us were in a hurry to abandon Super Mario Bros and our rollerblades to engage in what she was describing.

Finally she came to an end. I swear every kid was perched on the edge of his or her seat ready to bolt from the stifling hall at the nearest opportunity and begin the process of repressing this memory as quickly as possible.

“Any questions?”

Christ on a cracker, lady, are you kidding? NO ONE is about to ask a question in front of our whole year about something like this.

A lone hand raises.

100 heads swivel to stare at the kid who I am going to call Peter Brown for the purpose of this blog. Peter was not a popular kid. In fact it was widely rumoured he picked his nose and ate it. Peter sang like an angel and was ribbed about it frequently. Peter loved Nancy Drew novels and once hand wrote out every book in the series and gave it to me as a recommendation. Peter gave absolutely zero fucks about everyone’s discomfort. Peter wanted answers, dammit. Everyone was like, “Shut up, Peter, what are you doing?! Put your damn hand back in your lap!” But Peter coolly stared straight ahead at the woman on the stage and waited for her to call on him.

Clearly she didn’t expect questions either. The first time in her entire speech that she looked a little rattled was when she said, “Yes?”

“Can you have sex even if your penis ISN’T hard?”

I got to hand it to Peter. He didn’t look embarrassed or stumble over the word sex. He said it like he said the word sex every day. We were all still calling it, “It”.

“Ahh….I…um….well, usually it’s hard.”

We all got ready to leave again. But Peter wasn’t done. He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms, cool as a cucumber, “But if you WANTED to do it and it wasn’t hard, could you?”

“It’s hard when you do it.”

“But what if it’s not?”

“Well, it just usually is.”

“But usually isn’t always. If it was soft, could you?”

“I don’t think that would work?”


She is red faced and flustering because I’m guessing exact mechanics of the sex wasn’t really part of the program. We are all half mortified by the exchange and half impressed by the fact Peter just won’t let it go. Our classroom teachers are chuckling awkwardly at the sides.

Finally, red in the face, she half yells, “You just can’t put it in soft! For one, it just won’t go in! You can’t just STUFF it in there! And secondly, it probably wouldn’t feel very good!” And then she stops, looks a little shocked at her outburst and blinks a couple of times.

“Okay,” Peter says, nonchalantly, “Thank you.”

And then before anyone else can ask a question she quickly tells us we can go.

And that’s the story of how Peter Brown became a legend and stopped me from successfully repressing all memories of my first sex ed talk.

2 thoughts on “The Facts of Life.

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