Friday, April 5, 2013

My daughter knows about sex and still wants the tooth fairy to come

 "Alana says they teach the reproductive system in 5th grade at her school," my 10-year-old daughter Violet told me earlier this week.

That got my attention. "Yes, at your school too," I said, mildly. She is in fourth grade. Our plan was for me to have a sex education talk with her right before the school curriculum was presented. I was waiting until then in order to "preserve her innocence," or avoid giving her information she would not be ready for. (I had explained menstruation when she was three, and asked about some tampons in our bathroom.)

Vi continued: "We are studying bodily systems in school, and (name redacted) says his favorite system is the reproductive system." (Name redacted) is a piece of work. During a field trip into New York City that I chaperoned,  he made sure to point out every "inappropriate" (sexualized) billboard we passed. "I can't wait until I am grown up, so I can kiss," he announced in the back of the bus. I raised an eyebrow. "Trust me," he said. "You've done it thousands of times." Must keep this child away from my daughter. But how? I fear they will end up attending some middle school dance together three years hence.

Now it seemed clear that Vi wanted to discuss the reproductive system, so I asked what she knew about it. "It's when a man and a woman have sex to make a baby." Okay. I asked her what sex was. She giggled when she replied, but had a pretty clear understanding of the mechanics and used the clinical terms, as we have always done.

Damn. I did not get to her first. I tried to act matter-of-fact, while imagining myself storming into the fourth grade classroom demanding: "Which one of you bitches told my daughter about sex?" Instead, I asked, "how long have you known about this, and how did you find out?" Vi told me that at a sleepover in December, this fifth grader had clued her in, describing a "sex book" that her older brother had. WHAT WHAT WHAT? I remember that sleepover. She was catatonic the next day, but I assumed it was because she hadn't gotten any sleep.

"You don't have sex with just anyone," I said. "Only someone very special." She said, "I know." I also pointed out this is something that occurs when she is much, much older.

I am not sure why I was surprised about what went down at the sleepover. I myself was schooled about sex when I was FIVE years old. The first time I was sent outside to play alone, a girl who lived down the hall in our apartment building, my same age, whispered in my ear. "Do you know what F-U-C-K means?" she asked. I shook my head. "It's when a boy sticks his"-- she pointed to her crotch--"into a girl's"-- again she pointed downward. I went inside, catatonic. I told no one. There was never any elaboration from my parents, naturally.

Vi, happily, seems less bothered by the knowledge than I was. Her innocence is pretty well intact. The day after our little talk, Violet lost a tooth that she had been wiggling for weeks. She offered a theory of how the tooth fairy operates: "She gives the parents the money, and then they put it under the pillow." I left that one alone. I'm not too invested in perpetuating the tooth fairy myth at this point, so my policy is to neither confirm nor deny.  And after her big revelation the day before, I have to be honest, I was not too focused on my tooth fairy duties.

Violet put the tooth under her pillow, but the fairy, she did not come. We all agreed the fairy must have been unusually busy. So she put it under her pillow last night as well, but the tooth fairy flaked again.

I am clearly just doing a bang-up job here at Fallen Princess HQ.

Signing off,

Your Friendly Neighborhood Feminist Housewife


  1. Oh, internet hugs to a fellow mom of a young girl. I feel you so, so much right now! My daughter's 8, and her friend showed her this fine bit of reading:

    I think it's been around for ages, but now she's of the opinion that when you want to have children, a man has to "climb on top of" a woman and "jiggle and shake." I'm not making this up, I got the book so that I could see what she'd read.

    Indeed. I guess I'm glad some other kid told her, in the grand Judy Bloom tradition, but I'm also still shaking my head at the sheer 70s-ness of this literature.

    Anyway. I have no answers. Time moves on, and soon they'll be stealing our Valley of Horses.

  2. I have neglected my tooth fairy duties here as well. felt like crap the next day.

    my girls are 11 & 13 and on Instagram...let me just say, I would identify as a feminist and it makes me shudder at what these girls put out there and I really wonder if they think their body is their value.

  3. I have a 9 year old who's in 4th grade. I tried to have the sex talk with her, but when we were 5 minutes into it she put her hand up and said, MOM, STOP! YOU'RE TOTALLY FREAKING ME OUT!!

    Will try again in 5th grade.

  4. Two years ago when my older son was 6 he asked how babies were made and I told him. He seemed unfazed.

    A few months later he told me that [evil maniac school friend] told him that "There's *another* kind of sex." He was way, way too embarrassed to tell me what he learned though, and I've never been able to get it out of him.

  5. OMG! That must have been such a shock! I remember some dear friends of ours who were determined to be open and accurate in answering their children's questions about sex. But, on his first day in first grade, their son Brian hopped happily off the school bus and greeted his Dad with:
    "Hey, Dad! What's a double dildo??" Some kids hear way too much too soon!

  6. I may have had too much wine at this point, but the title "My daughter knows about sex and still wants the tooth fairy to come" is making me teary. You are wonderful, Christina Kelly.