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Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Sex Talk

A bitter, ominous wind whistled through the port racks as my class of eight-year-olds huddled on the carpet inside the classroom. 

There’s no such thing as social distancing when you’re eight and you can’t walk past another eight-year-old without squeezing them in a head lock or inflicting a Chinese burn.

I wasn’t huddling with them. I was perched on a small chair beside a whiteboard where I’d scrawled the word SACRED in bright crimson marker. 

“Look at this word,” I instructed the raggedy gang. “This word here is a very, very, EXTREMELY, very important word.”

I took a deep breath. I was about to give a lesson on sex.

Having just limped in from an arduous playground duty when a Year One girl had jammed her knee between the top rungs of the monkey bars and screamed like a banshee nonstop until I'd clumsily rescued her, I had been looking forward to a bit of a sit down.

Unfortunately, a group of my girls had barrelled up to me outside the classroom with extreme indignation (along with Nutella and jam donut) smeared all over their faces before I could get in the door. 

“Mrs Poinker! Mrs Poinker! Alphonzo said he was my boyfriend and he loves me and he kept on trying to sit with me at lunch,” squealed the first girl, her eyes sparkling with a Gloria Allred level of outrage.

“He said the same thing to me too!” said another. “He says we’re all his girlfriends and he loves us all.”

The girls shrieked en masse, then shuddered in passionate disgust.

The ME TOO scandal sprang to mind.

I couldn’t ignore this. It wasn’t as if Alphonzo was an up and coming Harvey Weinstein or anything, but even so, when a girl says, no, you can’t sit beside her with your stinky lunchbox and squashed banana*, well, no means no.

So here we were. Me delivering a sex talk to the class of eight-year-olds and wishing I was at home binge watching Escape to the Country and doing my calming crosswords. 

“See this word,” I gestured to the whiteboard where I’d emblazoned the word, SACRED across its shiny surface.

Forty-eight saucer-like eyes stared at me, frowned at the board, then turned their bulging eyes back to me. I had the floor, I had to make this good. 

“This is how we must see ourselves,” I smiled in my grandmotherly/Mother Teresa manner. “This is how we must see our bodies. This word here, (I rapped a metal ruler sharply on the word) says everything about us as human beings. This is what all of us are.”

I tried not to make eye contact with Alphonzo as I waffled on throughout my long-winded, raving monologue. 

Poor Alphonzo hadn’t really done anything wrong and I was wary not to single him out because I am a discriminating educator and because his mother might come in and get up me.

“It’s fine for girls and boys to be friends and nobody should get teased for that,” I blathered. “But you are too young to have girlfriends and boyfriends. There’s plenty of time for that when you’re teenagers.”

The high school teachers can deal with all that shite, I thought. They think they’re better than us with their trigonometry, Bunsen burners and clean clothes, so let them do the hard yards with the awkward delicacies of gender issues. 

I took a deep shuddering breath before delivering my big sex talk finale. It goes without saying I mentally patted myself on the back for my undeniably insightful, worldly-wise, diplomatic teaching style. 

I should start a podcast on how to talk to primary school children about sex, I thought. I'm a bloody expert.
“I hope, from now on, (weeny peek at Alphonzo) we are all going to respect each other and remember this word.” I tapped the whiteboard with the ruler. 

“So… altogether now, Our bodies are...?” I demanded a response, grinning wildly in encouragement.

There was a second’s pause, nervous glances were exchanged and someone sniffed.

“Our bodies are SCARED!” twenty-five voices chorused triumphantly.

K. Maybe no podcast. Maybe teach them to read.

*not a euphemism.