March 24, 2005

What Kids Talk About

A mom is driving her fourth–grade son and his best friend home from school. The two boys begin discussing the books on puberty that their parents have given them to stave off uncomfortable conversations—I mean, to answer their questions fully and expertly. Which book has better answers? Which book is more fun? What do the pictures show? They chat away as if the mom isn’t there.

“Mine’s better,” the best friend says, “because it calls it ‘having sex,’ not ‘having intercourse.’ And it has color pictures.” Pausing to consider, he sums up, “Sex is gross.”

“I don’t know,” says the mom’s son. “I’ve heard that sex can be joyful and beautiful.”

All right! thinks the mom. We’ve done something right!

And after a moment of tangled silence, the boys turn to the eternal subject: Pokemon.