A few months ago, my 10-year-old son came back from school all giggly, telling me how funny and embarrassing it was when one of his teachers was telling his class about the reproductive system.
“My teacher said it takes a woman’s egg in her body and a man’s sperm in their testicles to make a baby. So how do the sperm and egg make contact?” he asked innocently.
Yes, the dreaded “talk” about the birds and the bees has arrived.
As a mother, I knew this day would come. But, I never thought that I would be caught off guard while stuck in the car driving my children home from school.
However, I had spoken to sex educators before and read some articles saying how important it is to have open communication with your child to make them feel comfortable in asking questions.
As uncomfortable as I was, I did not want him to feel awkward. I wanted to let him know that there is nothing wrong to ask such questions.
So, I gently laid it all on the table telling him nonchalantly that when two people love each other, they would have sexual intercourse where the man’s penis and woman’s vagina come in contact.
The next thing I heard was loud ‘eewws’. Of course, I quickly added that kids were not allowed to have sex. Being a former court reporter who has seen many adults and minors alike being hauled up in court for engaging in sexual intercourse with another minor, I quickly reminded him that there were laws surrounding underage sex.
I emphasised that sex is complicated and one would have to be an adult who is mentally and emotionally prepared. In other words, they would have to be responsible adults before engaging in any sexual activities because there are a lot of health risks involved.
Recently, Deputy Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Hannah Yeoh, spoke about the importance of introducing sex education in schools and that her ministry and the Education Ministry would work on details of a proposed sex education syllabus.
“It is about time we overcame the taboo of sex education. If we don’t teach our children about sex education, then somebody else will, and they might teach the wrong things,” she was quoted as saying.
Currently, a version of sex education is covered under the banner of Reproductive and Social Health Education (PEERS) from primary to secondary.
I agree that sex education should be taught in schools. Because it has been such a taboo subject, people find it embarrassing or awkward to talk about it. But truth be told, it is a fact of life.
Our children are going to find out about it, even if not from proper channels like through the education system or their parents, they would search it on the Internet. And God forbid what they would find on the World Wide Web.
However, I also believe while sex education can be all biological terminology, it should also involve the teaching of self-worth and mutual respect. It should also be age-appropriate.
For example, when my two boys were in kindergarten, I had already taught them the proper names of their anatomy and the safe and unsafe touching zones.
So, back to the conversation I had in the car with my 10-year-old. Bear in mind throughout the whole time, my six-year-old was listening in attentively when he suddenly asked: “So if a man has only two testicles, how do some people have more than two children?
What came next was silence before my older one burst out laughing trying to explain to his younger brother that to make the baby, it does not involve using a whole testicle.
Yes, it was really awkward and funny conversation that day, but one which we would all see coming in many different ways.