Monday, January 29, 2007

AIDS Awareness

Friday morning, after a long week
of missed snow, houses guests and
a deep, deep cold
we had morning assembly
with just the 5th to 8th graders--
a mind-numbing power point
in non-kid friendly language
to educate them on AIDS
“transmission is from blood to blood
contact, breast milk, and anal, oral
or vaginal sex” the nurse droned.

I saw the mouths of 6th grade boys
drop to their knees.

At the end, there were no questions
and I could only assume that either:
they had no clue what she was talking about, or
the questions would come later.

They were barely done copying homework
when Yasmin raised her hand.
“So…what’s oral, anal and vaginal sex?”
She was paying attention.

This catapulted us
into the day with a jolt
where I was suddenly covering
a curriculum ranging from
tampons to farm animals
(what happens if you have sex
with a person who had sex
with an animal? one ten year old asked)

There are some questions you are never prepared for.

But this is the territory
of minds trying to make sense
from the daily craziness of the world
dragging these uprooted questions
like radishes
out into the yellow light.


Blogger Deezee said...

"There are some questions you are never prepared for."

that's an understatement! wow.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Kathleen said...

i have been waiting for this post!
well done.

you rock.

9:34 PM  
Blogger January said...

Wow, I wouldn't know what to do in that situation.

Love these lines, "dragging these uprooted questions
like radishes
out into the yellow light."

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does it still amaze me that education can be handled so badly. Why do nurses assume that 6th graders know what anal and oral sex is!!! I am so glad that you were there to field their questions. Isn't it so true that there are many questions that we are never prepared to answer. So glad you were there. Thanks for another great poem about real life. Love you. iocm(also thanks for the pictures from Saturday I so wanted to be there!)

7:08 PM  
Anonymous my backyard said...

Oh, wow! I would have hated to be in your shoes. And what on earth were the presenters thinking?

I give those kids credit for asking questions. I could never have done that at their age.

7:14 PM  
Anonymous Gel(emerald eyes) said...

We parents were faced with no choice when to talk to our children about oral sex and such when "WAPO" ran a front page article or front page metro article about 7 years ago about the high incidence of oral sex in the middle schools. In fact, the job fell to me, as it usually does, because my husband was not home.

This was detailed in a huge article in the newspaper during the summer before our oldest daughter entered 7th grade. Both of our daughers, then pre 7th and pre 5th grade, read the paper everyday and are precocious. Although we are an open family, I had answered questions on their level and even broached many a topic. (Our oldest asked me about AIDS about 4 years earlier when she was 8 yrs old and reading "Good Housekeeping.")

The WAPO article was biased against women/girls, placing all sexual activity solely on the girls's shoulders and even quoting statistics to support that while blatently omitting info about the boys. That riled me!

We knew long before the article that such practices even occur in elementary school. (I'm not naive and worked in the social services/health fields before changing careers to a full time artist and writer.)

It was difficult but not impossible to explain the questions and offer additional info to my 12 year old. However, our 9 year old was so horrified at the thought of such practices she had never even heard of, it was information too soon. Still, she and her sister are only 2 grades apart and were very close confidantes so to leave one out in the dark, was not the course of action, even though our younger one expressed no interest in sexual activity. We doubted she'd be "in danger" but we believe in disseminating info not repressing it.

That was, by far, the hardest talk I've ever needed to give them- to my own flesh and blood, girls 2 1/2 years apart and with different understandings while trying to STILL convey that sexual expression after marriage was LOVING. Especially our younger one, of course associated the genitalia as much with waste elimation at that age of 9. (Neither of my kids had hit puberty.)

I can imagine a whole class asking you questions but I only had 2 to answer and explain to. Hats off to you for that day.

To not answer, according to WAPO (and they are correct about this) and other even better sources can result in teenage pregnancy, increased venereal disease, increased depression, low self-esteem and a shockingly cavalier attitude that such practices are "preferred, even that young, for prevention of pregnancy." No, no, no and I'm a liberal minded person in most areas.

It sounds like you belive in bringing those uprooted "radishes out into the yellow light of sun." Thank you. That's good teacher!

If this comment was too long, apologies. I did not see an email contact.

9:05 AM  

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