My oldest son, who now appears out of nowhere to remind me that he's 10 1/2 years old and not 10 when I'm asked by friends and the random stranger interested in perhaps abducting him how old he is, completed a week long puberty class last Friday.
The note about the class came home for my signature a few days prior. Seeing it made me think a couple of things. First, when is it that I became the mother of a 10 1/2 year old kid? Second, when did they start calling the "penis and period" class "puberty class"?
A) Remember that time during the winter of 1996, when you'd been married a couple of years and you kept rubbing up on your husband and telling him you thought he'd make a really great daddy? That's how. Duh! Didn't you go to penis and puberty class, girl?
B) Probably shortly after the kids in my fifth grade class called it the "penis and puberty" class, then giggled uproariously at how our clever brains operated, believing that surely no one ever had thought of anything quite as hilarious.
Granted, it's been a few years, but I don't recall bringing home a note for my parents to sign, allowing me to sit in the empty lunchroom and find out about how I should shower regularly and not mess with my zits because that would just make them worse. I wonder if I had, they would have talked to me about that special time in my life when I was blossoming into a woman. Nah! I didn't even get so much as a book about puberty from them. Instead, I gathered insight into the female reproductive realm via the stick figure illustrations in the pamphlet our school guidance counselor passed out, the same ones we'd then draw genitalia on and giggle about when said guidance counselor turned out the lights for our very important film strip titled "March of the Menses," or something like that. Not the kind I'd later sneak to watch late at night on Cinemax that helped teach more so much more. In a softcore, apparently all it takes is BOOBS! to turn someone on kind of way, that is.
Anyway, note signed and pat on the back shared with my 10 1/2 year old, I sent him to school one morning as a boy and expected him to come home a man. Upon his return to the tribe as a brave and mighty warrior, I could see from the gleam in his eye that he had exciting things about growing up to share with me. After tossing out words like "testicles," "pubic hair," and "sperm" (which, for some reason, he said with that skin shivering, "This is disgusting" reaction that I reserve for words like "human creepshow" and "murder") he approached me with his hands cupping something small that he'd hidden behind his back.
"Guess what we got in puberty class today!!" he asked.
First, my internal dialogue kicked in. "I'm pretty sure the note didn't talk about distributing condoms. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but come on! It's fifth grade here. Please don't make it be a condom. Don't make it be a condom..."
Me: "Is it something small?"
Me: "Is it in a wrapper?"
Me: "Is it something you know you can talk to me about as your parent and a trusted adult, but perhaps would like to wait until your Dad is home so you can share this with him?"
Son: "Mom. Just guess."
A couple random guesses later, the child brandished a blue plastic bag, ripped it open and yanked out a package of Old Spice Pro Strength deodorant. Today's puberty is brought to you by Old Spice. Clinically proven to fight odor and wetness AND make you smell like my Grandpa!
(sidebar - how freaking cool is it you can manscape a virtual man on the Old Spice website!?! Go kill an hour. I did!)
The deodorant came packaged with a thorough, Old Spice-approved pamphlet containing information about stinky armpits, changing voices, out of whack feelings - and the parts that would make me giggle like a fifth grader - nocturnal emissions and erections.
Actually, sometimes, those last two things make me giggle still.
Following his third day of puberty class (the second was spent talking about feelings and changing emotions, blah, blah, blah, which makes me think, huh, I must go through puberty every couple of hours), my son came home with a perplexed expression upon his face. He grimaced when I asked what his lesson had been that day. Reaching into his backpack, he pulled out a diagram of the female reproductive system, unwrinkled it, put it up to my face and announced, "This is GROSSSSSSSS!!"
Me: "That's not gross, honey! That's a beautiful thing! Did you learn that babies develop and grow there?"
Son: "Mom! This is where you pee from!!"
Not wanting to stifle the learning, I asked if he'd also learned about the "Miracle of Menstruation" (starring Russell Crowe and Kate Winslet). His rolling eyes, which in between rolls glanced around the room as if to assure himself that we were not being listened in on by anyone he knew, indicated they had.
Me: "Well...do you have any questions about that? About a female's menstrual period?"
Me: "Let me just ask you this, then. You know Mom doesn't mean it when she gets all out of control and threatens to, oh, I don't know, set your Dad's head ablaze every few weeks, right?"
Timid Son: "Yes..."
Me: "Good! Now you know why that is, right?"
Son, now a tiny bit scared, thus ignoring me: "You know when the baby is growing up there it's attached and when it's born, they have to cut that wire, right?"
Son: "You know! The wire! The thing the baby gets it's food from until it's born!"
Me: "Honey, that's called an umbilical chord. Were you listening in class today, or drawing things on stick figures in the margins of your pamphlet?"
Son: "Can I maybe just have a cupcake now?"
Mom: "You may have a cupcake, which I'm sure you're glad you can eat without it having to be fed to you via a wire connecting me to you!"
Thankfully, btw, giving birth to a child isn't like having to get a Fisher Price Little People barnyard set out of the box at Christmas, what with all the wires, clips, and fasteners they use to secure toys in boxes these days. The last thing I'd want to see is a rechargeable screwdriver coming at my GROSSSSSSSS parts!
Later that night, as we were trapped in the mini while running errands, he mentioned that the teacher had also provided them a diagram of the male reproductive system. A system, it should be noted, that my son thinks rocks (his word, which was enhanced by a few unseen but quite obvious exclamation points, and perhaps a few fireworks plus a motorcyclist jumping a gorge while being encouraged by buxom cheerleaders. Cheerleaders my son actually doesn't really care for much at this point because, case in point based on the previously noted uterus, girls suck, thank you very much).
"Do you think it rocks?" he asked me. I masked my affinity for the male reproductive system with an answer I felt he could relate to.
"Well, it is where you pee from," I said, all crinkly nosed and 'blech' faced in the rearview mirror for him to see.
"Whatever. I think it rocks!" he responded "All except for all the other stuff about it."
Me: "What other stuff?"
Son: "Stuff. Just stuff."
Me, flipping the light bulb on: "Ohhh! Stuff stuff! Did your teacher talk to you about erections?"
Me: "Not directions! Erections. EEEE-WRECK-SHUNS! Erections!" (I like to say it a lot in hopes of curbing the giggling)
Son: "We don't need directions. We're going to Target. We go there all the time!"
In his defense, the music in the mini at the time was a bit loud. That, or he really knew what I was saying and simply didn't wish to speak to me - a nosy female AND his mother - about erections. I can't blame him. I just hope we get through his actual puberty as easily, and with as straightforward directions.
Also? Seriously, too much erection talk does make me giggle a bit.
Labels: Can't a girl just do that thing in a book where she adds up the days of her uh what do you call it mentalstration